Why Governments Are Not the Ones That Have to Assist Refugees

As the number of people seeking refuge has reached dimensions never experienced before, not only the United States but governments all over the world are introducing new deterrent policies and closing their doors as tight as they can.

Having to juggle the competing demands of security, the economy, and the responsibility to control their borders, most governments have been compelled to increase entry barriers and even force refugees from their territories.

Governments understand very well that considering the needs of people who are not their citizens exceeds their mandates. Helping refugees is thus not seen as an additional responsibility but rather as a voluntary act of benevolence.

While a government’s duties may be restricted to the passport holders of the country they have been elected to serve, no such limits exist to the obligation every human being has to alleviate another human being’s suffering.

Moral indolence enables political language to obscure the refugee’s real claim. This claim is not about free movement, entry, and membership, but about putting an end to suffering.

“Behind the faceless words “refugee,” “returnee,” “economic migrant,” lie the faces of starving children, desperate mothers, or the elderly sick.

To expect governments or their proxies, the international aid organizations, to focus on remedy rather than taking care of their narrow-interests is an excuse to abdicate moral responsibility.

This is particularly grievous when the ones abdicating this moral responsibility are not individuals but moral communities, particularly faith-based organizations which are the ones supposed to be the advocates and wardens of the sanctity of every single human life.

The refugees’ issue is arguably one of the major moral issues of our time demanding their plight to be seen not solely in terms of national security, cultural identity, or economic impact but first and foremost in terms of human morality.

Refugees are about the boundaries of justice, compassion, and the obligations human beings have towards each other.

While providing warm and nesting environments, moral communities can deliver services to refugees more cost-effectively than governmental and intergovernmental bureaucracies.

To advance this idea we have created the OZ coalition of moral communities. Three Conferences are being schedule to advance this agenda. The first one will take place September 2nd in South Florida. Then Los Angeles, California in November and New York City in February.


For more information please visit: https://www.oz-us.org/conference/


Rabbi Moshe Pitchon


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OZ the coalition of moral communities to alleviate refugee suffering