What We Stand For

A humanitarianism that loses its sense of the sacred will be a humanitarianism that ceases to exist

Michael Barnett and Janice Grosstein

“Oz”

is a coalition of moral communities (faith-based, civic and professional organizations) helping Latin American Refugees and supporting aid organizations and hosting countries

 

OZ understands that 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.

 

OZ is aware that that having to juggle the competing demands of security, the economy, and the responsibility to control their borders, most governments are compelled to increase entry barriers and even force refugees from their territories.

 

OZ also understands that the refugee’s real claim, is not about free movement, entry, and membership, but about putting an end to suffering.

 

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

OZ uses a three prone approach to assist in finding global solutions to the needs of refugees and hosting countries. For each approach it asks:

  1. What is best for the refugee?
  2. What is best for the hosting country?
  3. How to prepare for the future contribution the refugee will bring back to the country he was forced to leave?

OZ helps non-profits, faith-based and local charities already established in the area assisting them to improve and expand their work.

OZ does this by using the extensive networks of its stakeholders. It reinforces them by helping to coordinate and streamline ongoing efforts, secure local governments, regional bodies and international aid support.

 

The global refugee problem is not a humanitarian problem requiring charity, nor tearing down borders.

Refugees are not poor people. They are skilled individuals with talents and aspirations. Constrained by cruel circumstances they are temporarily without funds and opportunities. The person who is now a refugee previously had a home and a means of earning a living and was part of a community, they can help themselves and their communities if we assist them.

Rabbi Moshe Pitchon (left) '21st Century Judaism; Bishop Juan Carlos Mendez (center) "Churches in Action; Dr. Rafael Gottenger (right) Vice-president "Venezuelam American Medical Association"

Rabbi Moshe Pitchon (left) “21st Century Judaism; Bishop Juan Carlos Mendez (center) “Churches in Action”; Dr. Rafael Gottenger (right) vice-president “Venezuelan American Medical Association”

Affirmation of Welcome

From December 2012 through to December 2013, the document, Welcoming the Stranger: Affirmations for Faith Leaders (http://www.unhcr.org/51b6de419.html) was signed and endorsed by over 1,700 religious leaders, members of faith communities and faith-based organizations worldwide, and formally launched at a signing ceremony before an assembly of 600 faith leaders at the Religions for Peace 9th World Assembly on 21 November 2013 in Vienna.

Welcoming the Stranger:

Affirmations for Faith Leaders

A core value of my faith is to welcome the stranger, the refugee, the internally displaced, the other. I shall treat him or her as I would like to be treated. I will challenge others, even leaders in my faith community, to do the same.

Together with faith leaders, faith-based organizations and communities of conscience around the world, I affirm:

“I will welcome the stranger.

My faith teaches that compassion, mercy, love and hospitality are for everyone: the native born and the foreign born, the member of my community and the newcomer.

I will remember and remind members of my community that we are all considered “strangers” somewhere, that we should treat the stranger to our community as we would like to be treated, and challenge intolerance.

I will remember and remind others in my community that no one leaves his or her homeland without a reason: some flee because of persecution, violence or exploitation; others due to natural disaster; yet others out of love to provide better lives for their families.

I recognize that all persons are entitled to dignity and respect as human beings. All those in my country, including the stranger, are subject to its laws, and none should be subject to hostility or discrimination.

I acknowledge that welcoming the stranger sometimes takes courage, but the joys and the hopes of doing so outweigh the risks and the challenges. I will support others who exercise courage in welcoming the stranger.

I will offer the stranger hospitality, for this brings blessings upon the community, upon my family, upon the stranger and upon me.

I will respect and honor the reality that the stranger may be of a different faith or hold beliefs different from mine or other members of my community.

I will respect the right of the stranger to practice his or her own faith freely. I will seek to create space where he or she can freely worship.

I will speak of my own faith without demeaning or ridiculing the faith of others.
I will build bridges between the stranger and myself. Through my example, I will encourage others to do the same.

I will make an effort not only to welcome the stranger, but also to listen to him or her deeply, and to promote understanding and welcome in my community.

I will speak out for social justice for the stranger, just as I do for other members of my community.

Where I see hostility towards the stranger in my community, whether through words or deeds, I will not ignore it, but will instead endeavor to establish a dialogue and facilitate peace.

I will not keep silent when I see others, even leaders in my faith community, speaking ill of strangers, judging them without coming to know them, or when I see them being excluded, wronged or oppressed.

I will encourage my faith community to work with other faith communities and faith-based organizations to find better ways to assist the stranger.

I will welcome the stranger.”

God is our shelter and stronghold (oz),

Found from of old to be help in trouble

Psalm 46: 2