CONTACT: Rabbi Eric J. Greenberg
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON, D.C., November 18, 2015 - In the aftermath of the tragic Paris attacks – and those in Beirut and Baghdad – and increasing political calls to restrict Syrian refugees from entering the U.S., the Multifaith Alliance has issued the following statement:
We are distressed to hear American politicians using the Paris attacks as a rationale for keeping Syrian refugees out of our great country. We must ask: Why would we blame the victims of terror for the evil acts of the terrorists? This runs counter to who we are as a nation, abandoning the great historic principles of the United States of America, which stands for religious freedom and welcoming those from other lands who are in distress.
We call on public officials and politicians to desist from inflammatory and bigoted legislative actions and pronouncements against Syrian refugees and Muslims especially at this highly emotional time.
Georgette Bennett, Founder of the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, a project of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, stated:
“Such actions are reminiscent of one of the most shameful periods in our history: the mass internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the refusal to allow the St. Louis, a ship filled with Jews fleeing persecution in Germany, to dock in an American port. Many passengers on that ship died in the Holocaust. By our current actions – and inaction – we are condemning Syrian refugees to unnecessary suffering and death. These refugees are victims, not terrorists.”
At the same time we stand by our government’s efforts to meticulously screen Syrian refugees coming into our country for resettlement to make sure that terrorists are not sneaking in disguised as refugees. We support practical, common sense fixes that will make the resettlement process more efficient by allocating more resources to screening, using a uniform algorithm for all screening agencies, and prioritizing women and children along with medical workers – to the benefit of both our nation’s security and Syrian refugees.
All our member faith groups, including Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and Sikh, call for helping the needy, oppressed and disadvantaged. As the Bible teaches in Leviticus 19:16: “Thou shalt not stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor.”
The Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, a project of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, is a coalition of more than 50 faith-based and secular organizations. Our mission is to mobilize global support to alleviate the Syrian humanitarian crisis, heighten awareness of its growing dangers, and advance future stability in the region. Our activities include giving briefings in the U.S. and abroad about the crisis, facilitating relationships between complementary partner organizations working to help Syrian war victims, and nurturing transformative people-to-people diplomacy in the region.