JFREJ in Solidarity with Refugees and Muslim Communities

In the wake of the recent tragic attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Nigeria, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) renews our solidarity with our Muslim neighbors and condemns all attempts to fan fears, xenophobia, racism, and religious bigotry. We welcome Syrian and Afghan refugees and others who come seeking safety and asylum and will assist them in their settlement to the best of our ability.

Just as they did after the tragedy on 9/11, some candidates, government officials, and other demagogues are stoking fears in order to roll back civil liberties in the name of an illusory safety, and to promote an escalation of endless war. We reject the idea that safety lies in increased surveillance and unchecked police and military power. We are angered that refugees are being used as a political football by politicians to serve their own career interests, while putting Muslim communities and Arab communities of all faiths in increased danger throughout the country. We refuse to let fear-mongering drive our decisions, cloud our compassion or hurt our friends and allies.

As Jews from all parts of the world, we are particularly aware of what it means to be refugees and to find sanctuary denied. We remember the hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Nazis, and the many who were denied entry to the U.S. because of anti-Semitism here, expressed in terms that sound eerily familiar today. As Arab (Mizrahi) Jews, we are all too familiar with the stinging injustice of anti-Arab racism. We stand with Arabs of all faiths and nationalities in demanding our civil rights be respected, and that Syrian refugees be treated with a full measure of love and dignity.

In New York City, we are distraught to witness the rollout of the highly militarized Critical Response Command. When this Command was announced earlier this year, Police Commissioner Bratton planned a single unit that would conflate “terrorism” and dissent; he separated the units only following enormous public outrage. At the same time, while Mayor de Blasio has claimed to close the NYPD’s notorious “Demographic Unit” that spied wholesale on Muslim communities, the City is still contesting the Hassan v City of New York lawsuit, which seeks to ban such unjustified surveillance. Additionally, reports are coming out of surveillance performed many months after the Mayor’s stated closure of the program.

_DSC4414_wCaptionAs Muslim New Yorkers, we are horrified by these attacks, but not because of our faith; we are horrified because we are human. There is an expectation that we should apologize and denounce these attacks on behalf of our faith. We denounce these despicable acts of terror because they defy humanity. — Arab American Association of New York Executive Director Linda Sarsour in City & State, 11/19/2019

As we confront these injustices, we are buoyed by the strength and vision of Muslim and Arab community leaders, and by local and national politicians welcoming refugees and standing against bigotry. As Linda Sarsour put it, “This is what New York City is all about: recognition, inclusion and respect for all people.” We are heartened by the many powerful expressions of goodwill and support for refugees, Muslim Americans, Arab Americans of all religions, and for the civil liberties we all share civil liberties. As we mourn the dead and wounded of Beirut and Paris and Nigeria, and honor those who risked their lives to save others, we resolve that their suffering must not exploited to create more suffering.

At this time, we ask members of the wider community to support JFREJ’s partner organizations who are leading inspiring work on behalf of Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities:

DRUM South Asian Organizing Center

Arab American Association of New York

Muslim Community Network

We strongly encourage you to join JFREJ and our partner Jews Against Islamophobia (JAI) in this work and attend our upcoming Anti-Islamophobia Workshop on December 3rd.