Jews coming together on refugees and conflict

The following email was just sent to the list of Independent Australian Jewish Voices:

Dear friends,

After a brutal civil war that massacred tens of thousands in Sri Lanka, many Tamils are seeking to rebuild their lives in Australia and beyond. We have not only a moral responsibility to listen to their pleas as refugees, but legal obligations under international humanitarian laws to which Australia is a signatory. Above all, as Jews, we understand what it means when countries turn their back on asylum seekers looking for protection. The Jewish community should be raising its voice in support of Tamils seeking asylum and we should demand that the Australian government recognizes its legal and moral responsibilities to refugees.

Refugees in boats fleeing persecution ought to remind Jews of the St. Louis and the Exodus. For Jews of all people today, turning a blind eye to the Tamils is unacceptable. For this reason, we congratulate the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) for their public stance and we encourage Jews to show support for its recent statement that calls on the Rudd government to exercise compassion when dealing with refugees. The statement is here.

We also encourage you to sign the 300,000 Reasons campaign, an Australian-wide initiative to pressure the Rudd government to “draw attention to the plight of 300,000 Sri Lankan Tamil citizens – men, women and children who are being forcibly held in military camps in their own country for no reason other than their ethnicity.”

In other news, the UN Goldstone report over Israel and Hamas war crimes in Gaza has caused an international outcry. It makes sober reading and deserves serious reflection. Leading Jewish historian Tony Judt has praised Goldstone for braving “personal vilification and institutional mendacity to describe the crimes committed by Israeli forces in the course of their invasion of Gaza in December 2008.”

A petition launched by American Jews to support the Goldstone report is here.

Finally, the following stories are recent news and views about the Middle East:

Dispatch from J Street, Huffington Post
US State Department: Israel is not a tolerant society, Haaretz
Israeli settlements could cause one-state solution, Salon
America, Stop sucking up to Israel, Haaretz
Is using aid to Israel as leverage becoming a mainstream idea?, Salon

Best wishes,

Independent Australian Jewish Voices
Peter Slezak
James Levy
Antony Loewenstein
Eran Asoulin

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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