What to do with Refugees by Jordana Turoff

The United States and Israel have a lot of work to do to find the best way to deal with asylum seekers. There are so many people seeking refuge, and while they are very different, neither country has come up with a good way to handle the situation. Elliot Glassenberg, a Jewish educator and leading activist for refugee rights in Israel thinks that it is part of Israel’s responsibility to help people in exile since we, as Jews, know what it’s like. He suggests that even more than a responsibility, it should be seen as an opportunity to provide protection and security to people who need it most. Refugees leave their countries and come to Israel for all different reasons.  Once they arrive in Israel most wait for years to see if their applications for refugee status are accepted by the government. Some Israelis feel that they should be given refugee status, have the chance to work and make their own money,  allow their children to get an education and accept them into Israeli society. However there are also Israelis who are nervous about having all these refugees and what it can do to the economy and Israeli society; and feel they should be deported.  There are costs involved in integrating them into Israeli society and concerns about how much they may rely on the Israeli welfare and healthcare systems.  Added to that, there is also sometimes doubt about whether they are actually refugees, or their reasons for wanting to live in Israel. While I understand the concerns Israelis have about the possible burden the asylum seekers will be if they rely on government assistance, I agree more with the Israelis who want to allow them asylum. Growing up going to a Jewish day school I was taught how important it is to  help those in need, along with the importance of treating others fairly. If those in government thought of the asylum seekers through this lense the refugees would have a much different experience and everyone would be able to think about them through a more human eye.