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Responding to Recent Events Involving Israel’s African Asylum Seekers

Reconstructing Judaism and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association (RRA) urge Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government to reconsider its decision to abandon the agreement it initially announced it had struck with the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, on April 2, 2018. Several hours after announcing the agreement, the Netanyahu government reversed itself and stated that Israel would not be taking part in the deal. The previously announced agreement with UNHCR would have allowed about half of the African asylum seekers in Israel to remain permanently in Israel, while offering the other half safe passage to various Western countries. The UNHCR plan still represents a clear opportunity for Israel’s government to honor the Jewish values of caring for the stranger, the refugee, and the vulnerable. Other options that Israel’s government reportedly had been pursuing, such as forced deportation to Rwanda or Uganda, may imperil many of the asylum seekers. We stand with the many Israeli activists, rabbis, and organizations who are working  tirelessly to advocate for a compassionate and humane resolution to the fate of these asylum seekers, many of whom have fled persecution and war in places like Eretria and Sudan. We hope the Netanyahu government will give this matter more thought, and return to its earlier decision to adopt the agreement with UNHCR.


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