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Zaatari Refugee Camp, Jordan: It is home to around 80,000 Syrian refugees

I’ve said it before: where do the habitual Israel-bashers and Palestinian solidarity mavens stand on Syria? I’ll say it again because I hear a resounding silence. Are there scores of UN resolutions against this murderous regime? Where are the views of the great and the good on the three-year civil war that has slaughtered 191,369 at the last count, displaced millions and orphaned or made refugees of two million children?

And how is the UK responding to the worst refugee crisis on earth? Well, it seems that the statistics are as follows: Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan have admitted three million refugees into camps. Egypt has accepted 138,000, Germany 40,000, Algeria 25,000. Sweden has taken 17,000, and even the Gaza Strip has welcomed a thousand (what’s second prize, I wonder?). Meanwhile, our sceptred isle has managed to grant visas to 90. No, not 90,000—just 90 refugees.

In fact, the UK declined to join the UN resettlement programme. Instead, we set up the Dickensian-sounding Vulnerable Person’s Relocation Scheme, from which, so far, those plucky, lucky 90 migrants have benefited. David Cameron has declared that our aid to Syria is the second highest in the world; I don’t doubt that £700 million will make a difference—if it reaches the people who need it. But does that absolve us of compassion for the persecuted victims of a needless, atrocious civil war?

Those who would close up our borders maintain that we’re already tightly squeezed. If you believe Fox News, our cities are a virtual no-go area for whites, while Farage’s blokey burbling is picking up votes from the malcontents and an uncertain election is around the corner.  After all, the Le Pen-leaning France has taken a mere 500 Syrians, and the United States, land of the free and the home of the brave, has taken only a hundred. So on what grounds should Britain offer a home to the homeless?

Fade to flashback. It’s July 1938 and even without the benefit of 24-hour news, the world is aware of Hitler’s threatening behaviour towards Jews and other minorities. The situation is more pressing and depressing every day. He has pledged to make Germany judenrein (cleansed of Jews). German Jews are wearing yellow stars and suffering pogroms. Refugees are flooding across borders and, in a flurry of conscience, President Franklin D. Roosevelt calls for a conference. It will take place at Évian-les-Bains, on Lake Geneva, with representatives from 32 countries. Although the President himself is unable to attend, nor does he send his Secretary of State, he will dispatch a trusted friend, an industrialist named Myron C. Taylor, to chair the event.

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Anonymous
April 20th, 2015
9:04 PM
..and how many Syrian refugees has Israel accepted? the figure is glaringly absent for the article, the logic of which would strongly suggest that Israel should accept an enormous number of Syrian refugees as Israeli Jews should be the first to welcome those cast out of their homeland. The entire article dwells on the failure of other countries to accept Jewish refugees in the 30s. It should be thus incumbent on Israel to be first in line to accept Syrian refugees...why is the figure of actual Syrian refugees in Israel - by far the richest country in the region and most able to accommodate them- not given?

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