'More than 800 rabbis and other Jewish clergy in the US have signed a letter calling on Israel to reverse its plan to deport African migrants, arguing the asylum seekers are “escaping torture, enslavement, and war.”
“As a country founded by refugees, and whose early leaders helped to craft the 1951 International Convention on the Status of Refugees, Israel must not deport those seeking asylum within its borders,” reads the letter, which was written by the Jewish groups New Israel Fund, HIAS, T'ruah, and Right Now.
“We Jews know far too well what happens when the world closes its doors to those forced to flee their homes,” the letter continues. “The asylum seekers who have come to Israel are escaping torture, enslavement, and war. We are angered by reports that many of those who have been deported to Africa have already suffered rape, robbery, torture, and human trafficking.”
It goes on to urge the Israeli government to “start living up to Israel’s international responsibilities” outlined in the International Convention on the Status of Refugees. Such details include “providing asylum seekers a fair chance to file applications for refugee status, and refraining from deporting asylum seekers to countries that cannot guarantee their safety.”
The letter calls on the government to review asylum seeker applications in an “effective, fair, transparent, and impartial manner.” Jewish rabbis, cantors, and rabbinical or cantorial students are all invited to sign the document online.
It comes after the Knesset last month approved an amendment to the so-called “Infiltrator’s Law,” which paved the way for the deportations of Eritrean and Sudanese migrants and asylum seekers. Those deportations are due to begin in March.'