Georgette Bennett, founder of the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, said “separating the myths from the facts” is essential. “Policy is being driven by misinformation and misconceptions,” she told The Jewish Week in a phone interview last week. She cited a recent study by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, which found that only 3 of the 859,629 refugees admitted into the United States from 2001 on have been convicted of planning terrorist attacks, and none was carried out (none of those implicated were Syrian). She voiced concerns, echoed by experts, that the current ban will not only fail to deter terrorism, but may exacerbate the security situation.
“By not rescuing those in need, we are in fact enabling the condition we fear the most,” she said. People “living in limbo,” particularly youth, are most “vulnerable to radicalization. Cutting off rescue increases the threat to our security, it doesn’t decrease it.”
What the Multifaith Alliance and local faith leaders bring to the table is “moral authority and vast constituencies with real mobilizing power,” Bennett continued. One “glimmer of hope” amid the “horrific tragedies” in the Middle East is the partnership between Israeli and Syrian organizations, she said. “Jews and Muslims have been able to rise above politics, above stereotypes of one another and form a system of support,” Bennett said. “We can do the same in this country.”
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