I’ve signed this petition, as have a wide array of public figures, artists and academics from across the political spectrum and of a variety of faiths — including such accomplished historians as Israel’s Yehuda Bauer, Canada’s Irving Abella, and David S. Wyman in the U.S. Israel’s initial welcome reception of African refugees has become unwelcoming and even ugly, as their numbers have grown precipitously. I begin with a note from Dr. Rafael Medoff, director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, who initiated this petition (email him or contact the Wyman Institute to add your name):

As you know, Israel has been at the center of international controversy over its handling of African refugees who have been arriving at its border.

The interfaith petition below is intended to be signed by religious leaders of all faiths, scholars in all fields, organizational leaders, and political and cultural figures from around the world–we seek a broad cross-section of distinguished individuals to demonstrate the breadth of support for this effort. Once we have a sufficiently large and impressive body of signatories, we will present it to individual governments and press for its adoption.

The Hebrew University-Hadassah Genocide Prevention Program, and the Israeli Association to Combat Genocide, have endorsed this initiative. Would you do us the honor of allowing your name to be added to the list below?

With all best wishes,

Rafael Medoff, rafaelmedoff@aol.com

Israel and the African Refugee Crisis:

Significant numbers of African men, women, and children are fleeing genocide, political persecution, or economic hardship, and many have been seeking refuge in Israel. We note that the people of Israel have an impressive record of assisting African and other underdeveloped countries, and sheltering refugees from around the world. At the same time, we acknowledge the Israeli public’s legitimate concern over expectations that Israel should shoulder all or most of the burden of caring for the new refugees.

We urge the international community to address this crisis in the spirit of the appeal made by U.S. Vice President Walter F. Mondale at the United Nations Conference on Indochinese Refugees, held in Evian, France, in 1979. He said the countries attending the infamous 1938 Evian conference “failed the test of civilization” by refusing to help Europe’s Jewish refugees, and he urged the 1979 attendees to cooperate in resolving the crisis of “boat people” fleeing Indochina: “We face a world problem. Let us fashion a world solution.” Those words moved governments to act. Hundreds of thousands of lives were saved.

We call on the nations of the world to accept their responsibility to share the burden of resolving the African refugee crisis. We hope Israel will play an appropriate role in such an effort alongside other nations that are committed to doing their fair share. With the approach of the 75th anniversary of the original Evian conference, in July 2013, we urge men and women of good will to come together in a partnership of humanity to face this crisis.

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