Progressives call for compassion

July 26, 2013 by J-Wire Staff
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Australia’s Union for Progressive Judaism has attacked the government’s new stop-the-boats policy and called fro compassion for asylum seekers.


Steve Denenberg - executive director UPJ

Steve Denenberg – executive director UPJ

In a prepared statement, the UPJ says: “As members of the Jewish community, which has benefited greatly from a humane and compassionate Australian Government policy towards people seeking refuge, it is with great sadness that the UPJ has followed recent events regarding asylum seekers and refugees.

We understand and support the need for Australia to protect its sovereignty but also believe that such efforts must be coupled with ensuring the humane treatment of people seeking protection, as well as fulfilling our commitments as a responsible member of the global community and a signatory to the Refugee Convention.

According to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, countries have an obligation to promote and protect human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) states: “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution” [Article 14].  The Torah states “(God) upholds the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and befriends the stranger, providing food and clothing” and we are particularly aware of that “You too must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:18-19).

At this time there is inadequate information for us to determine whether the Government’s new policy will be effective in combating “people smuggling” or in preventing people seeking asylum here by other means.

It would be naive to hope that our politicians will remove this issue from the political agenda and to address it in a bipartisan manner, particularly in the lead up to a General Election.  All we can do, therefore, is to express the hope that the debate, and the policies that emerge from it, address the needs of these people with dignity, respect and compassion.

We believe that Australian asylum seeker policy should be based on fairness and compassion and should reflect the values of Australian society.  Similarly, by speedily accepting and welcoming the full quota of already approved refugees, we note that Australia could reduce the need for people to seek dangerous alternative ways of reaching our shores.”


One Response to “Progressives call for compassion”
  1. Paul Winter says:

    We should by all means welcome the stranger, but we should also consider their strangeness.

    It is strange that the asylum seekers (read economic invaders) arrive in Indonesia on valid passports that strangely vanish on their way to Christmas Island. It is strange that the undocumented, become refugees on the basis of their unverifiable stories. It is strange that while there are over forty million impoverished refugees world-wide, we attract only the well heeled ones. And it is strange that people who rape, intimidate others, scare their own children, riot and burn down their camps have some poeple of the book that speaks of justice, pleading for those who would not be granted asylum on character and mental health grounds.

    Comparing these asylum seekers to Jews who were fleeing Nazi Europe and ended up all over the world is an affront. Jews who were incarcerated in Switzerland didn’t riot, nor did the survivers of concentration camps and ghettos put behind barbed wire on Cyprus by the Brits. But then again there are not too many riots in Iran for those Hazara who were not barred by their fellow Shi’ites.

    Perhaps the strangest aspect of the matter is that the UPJ is dressing its far-left politics in the clothes of religion. There is nothing wrong with religion or left-wing politics. There is nothing right in misdirecting sympathies and in political extermism.

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