T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights condemns in the strongest terms President Trump’s latest attempt at a “Muslim ban.” Yesterday’s discriminatory executive order, which continues to effectively close our borders to Muslims, flagrantly violates America’s longstanding, values-driven commitment to serving as a safe haven for refugees and immigrants. Masked as an effort to ensure national security, this third executive order is more of the same Islamophobia that targets Muslims by reinstating the discredited vetting procedures, established after September 11, 2001, aimed at men from Muslim-majority countries. The intent of the new ban is the same as the previous bans—to keep out people from Muslim-majority countries, even from Syria and Yemen from which millions of refugees are simply seeking safety for their families.
This February, nineteen T’ruah rabbis were arrested outside the Trump International Hotel protesting the original ban. Our network of 1,800 rabbis will not stop protesting this ban, in any form, until it is canceled for good.
As Jews, who know what it means to be targeted by discriminatory laws, we stand firmly with refugees fleeing war, persecution, and economic strife. For many in our American Jewish community, witnessing these refugees and immigrants, and the nativist backlash against them, reminds us of the experience of many of our own families who arrived on America’s shores in the early twentieth century. The passage of the Immigration Act of 1924, a law aimed at keeping the United States free of immigrant populations deemed to be “suspicious” or “dangerous”, including Jews, Italians, and Asians, led to disastrous consequences when many who might otherwise have immigrated here perished in the Holocaust.
On more than 36 occasions the Torah declares that our experience as strangers in the land of Egypt obligates us to care for the most vulnerable among us; particularly the sojourners, migrants, and immigrants seeking refuge in our midst. Abraham and Sarah, who welcomed three unknown travelers into their home, modeled hachnasat orchim—welcoming guests—which the Talmud declared to be even more important than speaking to God. And the reviled tribe of Amalek achieved its wicked status in the annals of Jewish history by attacking the most vulnerable of the Israelites fleeing Egypt.
We are proud that so many of T’ruah’s 1,800 rabbis are following the example of Abraham and Sarah by standing in solidarity with immigrants and refugees, including the Muslim, Arab, and Asian communities most directly affected by this executive order. We pledge to amplify the voices of our rabbis in their localities, and to join anticipated legal challenges led by our allies in the civil rights community.
The Jewish community understands all too well the danger of compromising the civil liberties of any national, ethnic or religious group, or of holding entire groups collectively responsible for the actions of individuals. America is great when we unite around the aspirational values of inclusion, tolerance and freedom, as well as when we welcome immigrants and refugees, who have made countless contributions to every single aspect of this country’s greatness. The most recent executive order undermines our values and weakens the moral fiber upon which our nation stands.