Office of the Chief Rabbi

In the Press: Chief Rabbi’s letter in The Times

In a letter published in The Times today, the Chief Rabbi urges to readers  to appreciate the complexity of the refugee crisis after a poll suggested that public sympathy for Middle Eastern migrants was waning following the Paris attacks. Read the letter as it was published below:

“Sir, The results of The Times poll in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks suggests an oversimplification of its causes (“Public adandons support for Syrian refugees coming to Britain”, News, Nov 18). When faced with something so deplorable, we instinctively try to make some sense of it and look to apportion blame. What could possess an individual or group to do something so very evil?

Neither the sprawling humanitarian crisis which we are now confronted with nor the terrorism threatening our freedom and democratic values are caused by any single factor. They are intertwined in a multi-dimensional web of political, religious, economic and sociological complexity.

Last week I visited Idomeni, a refugee camp on the Greek border with Macedonia. I heard first-hand from numerous people desperately trying to escape the clutches of Islamic State, and it was clear to me that our response to the scourge of terror should not be to close our borders. Security considerations must be an important part of our approach to the refugee crisis, but the vast majority of the hundreds of thousands of refugees, like the residents of Paris, are the victims of evil and not the perpetrators of it.”