CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 11

Israel and the Issue of Shelter-Seeking Immigrants
Yehoyada Amir
The Jewish tradition anchors itself in the
memory of the Exodus from Egypt. The family
who emigrated to Egypt due to dire economic
woes became a people. Before long,
xenophobia-the hatred of the foreigner-was
awakened and the immigrants were perceived
as a threat to the Egyptian nation. Xenophobia
rapidly deteriorated into cruel enslavement
and attempted genocide-a total breakdown
of humanity. Pharaonic Egypt itself became

a slave to the enslavement, trapped by the
death trap it laid for the people of Israel, and
led itself, step by step, blindly, foolishly, and
obliviously to its own downfall. Pharaoh's army
drowning in the Red Sea while in pursuit of
the liberated slaves is a symbol of the grim,
inevitable conclusion of the process.
Contemporary Jewish existence is anchored
no less in the experience of the refugee,
fleeing terrible danger. Refugees wanting
to live, whose only sin was to be born in
the wrong place at the wrong time to a
persecuted people, knocking on the doors of
an indifferent, unfeeling, alienated, and tired
world. The reasons not to absorb the refugees
are numerous, creative, and bureaucratic-the
results devastating. Once the war ended and
the machine of destruction ceased to operate,
humankind turned to setting new standards-
responsible, moral, humane, which would
obligate the absorption of those seeking
refuge and limit the right of countries at peace

to ignore the pleas for help. The human race,
appalled by the depths of murder and hatred
revealed in its midst, desired to adopt new

Israel is also required
to play her part in this
giant human saga.
Hundreds of
millions now
seek to emigrate.
Many seek refuge
from the hunger
and poverty
thrust upon
them by cruel
which takes pride
in the slogans
of capitalistic
freedom. Others
flee for their lives
from the terror
of savage wars,
ethnic cleansing,
strife driven by
violent religious
extremism and more. They
leave their homes, endangering their own lives
and those of their dear ones in the hope of
finding rest for their feet, to begin worthy lives,
to engender hope for future generations. They
arrive at our thresholds too. In recent years,
tens of thousands of seekers of life and liberty
have trodden through the desert in the hope
of finding here the "Promised Land." Maybe
they heard something about the imperative
arising from the Book of Books that the Jewish
people have instilled in humankind; maybe
they hoped that a dense history of persecution
soaked in blood would evoke compassion in
a generation of Jews that enjoys peace and
As does every fortunate country with a thriving
economy, a stable regime, and a relatively
free society, Israel is also required to play
her part in this giant human saga. Like other


countries, we know we are incapable of
offering a solution to every person in need;
we also closed our borders at some stage
and effectively stopped the flow of refugees.
Like other countries, we also tend to forget
that the closing of borders is legitimate only
if we take part in effecting change in the
world; if we understand that the great tide of
immigrants knocking on the gates of freedom
and economic welfare is a manifestation of
the terrible distortion created by the current
world social and economic order; if we meet
our responsibility to repair it, if only in small
measure. Indeed, these are global issues,
involving action that is mostly required far from
our borders. We are not required to complete
the task, but neither are we exempt from it.
However, there is an aspect close by,
immediate, that cries out to us. Tens of
thousands of immigrants-refugees, economic
migrants, seekers of life-who are here with
us exhort us to return to our foundational
values as human beings and as Jews. Their
existence demands of us to extend a loving
and responsible hand. To embrace and not
to persecute; to assist and not to ignore. To
accept into our national home and not to
expel to a cruel and uncertain fate. This effort
should have commenced long ago; it is critical
that it begins today. There needs to be action
to dismantle "ghettoes," to integrate into the
workforce, to spread a safety net ensuring
healthcare, education, and welfare. We must
allow them to become part of the mix of a
society that strives to be Jewish, not only
demographically, but also in terms of values.
We must neutralize the poison of racism and
xenophobia that bubbles in our veins and
threatens our lives. We must do so wisely,
distributing the burden across society, with
determination and prudence. It is possible. It
is essential. This is the duty arising from our
humanity and our Jewish heritage.
The Torah teaches us-through the story of an
Egyptian society that enslaves and a Hebrew
society that is awakened to redemption and
freedom-of the options faced by every
generation and by every people and society.
Which shall we choose? Will we drown in the
toxic mud in the depths of the sea or shall we
cross over dry-shod toward a life of freedom
and human kindness?


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018

CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 1
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 2
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 3
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 4
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 5
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 6
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 7
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 8
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 9
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 10
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 11
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 12
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 13
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2018 - 14