Statement about the refugees crossing the English Channel

13 August 2020 – 23 Av 5780
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13 August 2020

The rabbis and leaders of Liberal Judaism view with great concern the vilification of the refugees taking huge risks to get across the English Channel.

We know that many of them are seeking the love and care of relatives in the UK, and that every avenue to reach them safely and legally has been, or is being, closed down by government policy and action.

We are further appalled that some media and turning desperation into a spectator sport and are also using dehumanising language of objectification.

If legal and safe routes existed and were implemented with care and concern, rather than hostility and obstruction, then people traffickers would not profit from scared and vulnerable people seeking refuge from persecution or conflict. Lives would be saved.

There are few in our world more vulnerable than those forced to leave their own homes, their own countries, and travel across Europe to seek safety. Judaism has always taught care and compassion for those who are vulnerable.

We applaud the work of Safe Passage, Help Refugees and many other organisations supporting and caring for vulnerable refugees.

Rabbi Richard Jacobi said: “After meeting child refugees in Calais in 2016, my late father, himself a refugee, made the film Harry and Ahmed for UNICEF. He could not have anticipated that the situation in 2020 would be worse rather than better. He would demand better of the UK Government, as does Liberal Judaism today.”

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