by Haya Luftig
September 5, 2016
The vigorous protection of human rights, based on human dignity, is a core tenet of Judaism. There are armed conflicts, genocides, mass atrocities spurring one of the worst refugee and displaced persons crisis in its history, with more than 60 million people now displaced by violence and war. While the majority of refugees are Syrian, ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas are also reaching crisis levels. On September 19, 2016, world leaders will convene in New York at the United Nations General Assembly to address the current refugee crisis, the magnitude of which has surpassed even that following the Second World War.
Widespread international neglect has forced those fleeing violence and persecution to needlessly risk their lives attempting to escape, causing thousands of entirely preventable deaths. Refugees who survive the journey to host countries, whether residing in camps or urban environments, frequently have inadequate housing and food, limited access to medical and psychological care, and little to no educational or job opportunities. In many parts of the world, refugees continue to face discrimination, human rights abuses, and outright attacks.
The United States recently met its goal of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees in fiscal year 2016. Do you think we have an obligation to go beyond this? What role, if any, do you see for the United States in addressing this unprecedented refugee crisis? Should the United States play a more active role in preventing genocides and atrocities around the globe? If so, what courses of action, including diplomatic and military strategies, do you feel are appropriate and why?