Reform Jewish Movement Statement on Expulsion of Asylum Seekers from Israel

You shall not wrong nor oppress a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 22:20)

January 26, 2018 - The statement below is issued by the following organizations of the Reform Jewish Movement, the largest movement in Jewish life:

We strongly urge the Israeli government to reverse its decision and recognize the legitimate status of the 37,885* asylum seekers in the country.

These asylum seekers, including men, women, and children—primarily from Eritrea and Sudan—are likely to face imprisonment, indefinite military conscription, additional expulsion, physical harm or even death if they are deported. The plight of Jewish refugees inspired the nascent State of Israel to ratify the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention, a commitment that is being ignored today. A State founded by refugees should feel a special responsibility to provide safe haven to those facing persecution and violence.

We are equally disheartened by the rhetoric used to incite the public against asylum seekers. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s blanket rejection of the status of “refugees” for those who have fled to Israel (calling them all “infiltrators”) and his assertion that granting refugee status to these asylum seekers endangers the Jewish character of the State belie the facts.   

We recognize that there are many in the world in need of assistance, and it is unreasonable to expect Israel to accept an indefinite number of newcomers. Still, Israel has the ability to assist and absorb the 37,885 asylum seekers already in the country. The real threat to its Jewish character is the refusal to provide shelter to the persecuted.

*According to the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority


American Conference of Cantors
Arzenu - International Federation of Reform and Progressive Religious Zionists
Association of Reform Jewish Educators

Association of Reform Zionists in Canada
Association of Reform Zionists of America

Central Conference of American Rabbis
Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism
Men of Reform Judaism
North American Federation of Temple Youth
Reform Pension Board
Union for Reform Judaism
Women of Reform Judaism
World Union for Progressive Judaism


Contact: Lauren Theodore at 212-650-4154