Prime Minister Netanyahu:
We write as Australian Jews to urge you to stop the deportations of asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea who have sought refuge in Israel.
As Jews we are acutely aware of our own stories as refugees. We know far too well what happens when the world closes its doors to those forced to flee their homes.
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.
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.
We urge the government to uphold Israel’s legal and moral responsibilities to provide asylum seekers a fair chance to file applications for refugee status and refrain from deporting asylum seekers to countries that cannot guarantee their safety.
The Torah teaches, “The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were gerim in the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:34).
Our own experience of slavery and liberation, and our own experience as refugees, compel us to act with mercy and justice toward those seeking refuge among us. Please affirm these Jewish values, as well as Israel’s international commitments, by stopping the deportations.
This week, people seeking asylum in Israel began receiving deportation orders. In this first group, more than 20,000 will be forcibly sent to African countries where Israel cannot guarantee their safety.
These people fled some of the world’s most despotic and dangerous regimes. They came to Israel because they knew it was a beacon of freedom and democracy. A country whose people understand how vital it is to protect those fleeing persecution and death in their country of origin.
And now, a country that, by signing the UN Refugee Convention, promised to keep them safe is instead sending them to countries where asylum seekers report being robbed and taken by people smugglers.
Will you sign our letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu urging his government not to proceed with the deportations of asylum seekers? We’ll be delivering it to the Israel’s Ambassador to Australia later this week.