Today, UJS is releasing an open letter to His Excellency Ambassador Regev, calling for the British Jewish community’s opposition to the planned deportations of asylum seekers in Israel to be relayed to the Israeli government.
In conjunction with this international campaign, we will also be launching the Mensch initiative, encouraging local-scale activism to address the UK’s support of refugees.
In a time where so many are displaced, we are proud to join the efforts of the Jewish community’s response to this unacceptable situation, calling on both the UK and Israeli governments to live up to their commitments under international and Jewish law.
If you would like to learn more about the situation please read our FAQs here, and please sign our open letter to the Ambassador below.
Dear Ambassador Regev,
We, British Jews, are immensely proud of our Jewish homeland and the State of Israel’s wonderous achievements and contributions to the world. We are also heartened by the religious, cultural and ethnic diversity that we see in Israel. To have a Jewish homeland after 2,000 years in exile is nothing short of miraculous. That this state is a beacon of freedom and democracy in a region too often marred by terror and tyranny, where Jewish values are brought to life and held in high esteem, only furthers the achievement. We advocate for, defend and support our Jewish homeland, and we share a message of peace and inclusion with the world.
However, the recent announcement to deport asylum seekers that crossed into Israel from 2005-2012 is a betrayal of these values we hold dear. They came to Israel because they knew it was a beacon of freedom and democracy. A country whose people understand how vital it is to protect those fleeing persecution and death in their country of origin. For asylum seekers to be called ‘infiltrators’ and facing imminent deportation is a smear on Israel’s name. We are taught Ve’ahav’ta lere’acha ka’mocha, to love your neighbour as yourself. Israeli field hospitals live up to this mantra across the world, from treating injured Syrians in the Golan to earthquake survivors in Nepal and Haiti. Yet this guiding principle has been forgotten behind the perimeter fences of Holot and now the planned expulsion of tens of thousands of asylum seekers.
Each year we celebrate the returning to our ancient homeland and the founding of our modern state, a state whose birth was announced with the words “the state of Israel will be … based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex”. Our prophets implore us “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong” (Ezekiel 47:22-23) and instruct that “There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.” (Jeremiah 22). Indeed in our sacred texts we are commanded to treat strangers well, more than we are commanded to love God, and to “Love them as yourself”.
We, the British diaspora, are proud of the modern miracle that is Israel. We are proud that the Jewish state is guided by Jewish values. And that is why we cannot stand silently by whilst the Israel we love reneges not only on its commitments under the 1951 International Convention on the Status of Refugees, but also on its commitments to the values it claims to embody.
We implore the Israeli government to reverse this decision, showing the Israeli government values the Jewish diaspora and wishes to uphold the principles on which our homeland was built.