Former British Chief Rabbi Calls for Kindertransport-Type Rescue of Syrian Refugees
Former British Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks called on the U.K. to absorb thousands of Syrian refugees in light of the growing crisis that took the world by storm this week, spawned in part by pictures of a lifeless Syrian boy who drowned attempting to reach the Turkish island of Kos.
Sacks said the U.K. should launch an initiative similar to the Kindertransport rescue of some 10,000 Jewish children before World War II.
The prominent religious leader told the BBC that the images that have surfaced over the last few days of over-packed dinghies, lifeless children and families torn apart have “brought back images we though we would never see again. They take our mind way back to the Holocaust and it is important to remember simple humanitarian gestures like the Kindertransport, which rescued 10,000 children in Germany.”
His comments came after British Prime Minister David Cameron changed his stance on the issue and said the country would take in “thousands” of refugees from camps suffering near fighting in the Syrian civil war, which has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands and raged for nearly five years.
“I think 10,000 is a figure that we could handle and it is a figure to which Britain would respond well – the churches, the religious groups, the charities, would all join in and we would be better for doing it,” said Sacks, criticizing Hungary’s aversion to accepting in the thousands of Syrians who have fled to Budapest.
“I hope that European countries will realize that the very ideals on which the EU were founded are being tested right now,” said Sacks.
Thousands of Syrian refugees have reportedly died this year attempting to reach Europe to escape war-ravaged Syria, including many women and children.