Contact: Roslyn Singer
Director of Communications, OU Advocacy
Today, the leadership of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America issued the following statement:
The heinous attacks in Paris this week demonstrate that ISIS, and other similar militant Islamic terrorist groups, have both the desire and means to strike terror in the capitals of the Western world. Clearly, this must impact the manner in which the United States considers the acceptance of refugees from Syria and other war-torn countries in the Middle East. While most of those refugees are innocent bystanders whose lives have been wrecked by ISIS and similar groups, security concerns are real and serious. We cannot be naive in our assessment of the determination of terrorists to exploit the refugee crisis. And we should limit immigration to those individuals who share our American ideals and aspirations.
However, we also must recognize that the majority of these refugees are fleeing terror themselves—violence like we have witnessed in Paris. They are families, women, and children who are running for their lives. We cannot and should not blame them for the actions of an evil terrorist organization. The Jewish community has an important perspective on this debate. Just a few decades ago, refugees from the terror and violence in Hitler’s Europe sought refuge in the United States and were turned away due to suspicions about their nationality. In fact, the Jewish immigrants that ultimately came to these shores fully adopted American values and have contributed greatly to the fabric of our great nation of immigrants.
Thus, we encourage a sensible process of reviewing and enhancing security. Neither partisan politics nor xenophobia can have a place in that debate. While security concerns must be paramount, our focus as a nation should be on “getting to yes.” Congress and the Executive Branch should review the screening program for refugees and strengthen it as appropriate. The process under which individuals can enter the U.S. on tourist or student visas should be reviewed as well. America has both the creativity and compassion to successfully address the competing considerations and we urge our political leaders to work toward achieving this delicate balance.