THE Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) has endorsed the Australian government’s milestone decision to admit an additional 12,000 refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria and Iraq.
ECAJ president Robert Goot said the Jewish roof body agrees with the government’s move to give priority to resettling refugees from the conflict, including women, children and families of persecuted minorities, who have sought refuge in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey,
“We also commend the government for committing $44 million to the provision of humanitarian support to more than 240,000 Syrian and Iraqi people who have been forced to flee their homes or seek refuge in neighbouring countries,” he said.
The ECAJ also gave its support to the government’s decision to extend Australia’s air strikes against Islamic State into Syria, marking the next phase of Australia’s contribution to the international coalition effort to disrupt, degrade and ultimately defeat Islamic State.
“It is not enough simply to address the results of the ongoing atrocities being carried out by Islamic State and many other groups in Syria and Iraq,” said Goot. “It is also necessary, in concert with other nations, for there to be a forcible military response against those groups themselves, as this seems to be the only way available for the moment to pressure the perpetrators against continuing their atrocities.”
Goot said the ECAJ would also like to see strong diplomatic pressure applied to the Syrian regime, whose crimes against its own people – including the deliberate use of chemical weapons and barrel bombs against civilians – have been at the very heart of the problem.
“The Syrian regime and its backers – Hezbollah, Iran and Russia – have much to answer for,” he added.
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff said his organisation wholeheartedly backs the decision to increase the Syrian refugee intake.
“As a nation, we have a responsibility to be a sanctuary for those in need and play our part in the spirit of humanity and kindness. Now is the time for compassion and to ensure those who are most in need can establish a life in our country,” he said.
Jewish Community Council of Victoria president Jennifer Huppert said that as a daughter of a refugee she could relate particularly well to the heartache felt by those displaced from Syria and Iraq, and commended the government’s decision to admit a further 12,000 people.
“If Australia can assist in providing a safe haven for these people, who are facing persecution and possibly death, that is a very welcome decision,” she said.