Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
What’s Next for Israel? A conversation with the Forward. Tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET, 92NY and onlineRegister Today

Orthodox Rabbis Call For Action For The Rohingya

Yet again, a minority group is being persecuted, displaced, tortured, and killed for the crime of being different. The Rohingya, a stateless minority of approximately 1.1 million people spread across Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan and other nations, have been denied citizenship in Myanmar since 1982. The government of Myanmar does not even recognize the name “Rohingya”, denying their right to a self-defined identity, and viewing them as illegal immigrants with no guaranteed rights. Sporadic waves of violence against the mostly Muslim Rohingya have flared on and off for decades; but the recent escalation in violence is new.

An alleged attack by Rohingya insurgents against local police officers on August 25, 2017 led to a harsh campaign of violence that included torture, extrajudicial killings (including the murder of children), rape and the decimation of villages. According to the UN, 123,000 Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh, in the past two weeks alone, adding to the 400,000 stateless Rohingya refugees who have already languished there for years. UN aid agencies and NGOs reported this week that their efforts to deliver basic supplies to other displaced Rohingya communities inside Myanmar have been blocked by the Myanmar government. This is happening as we speak.

We have seen this before. And we know what happens when the world is silent in the face of inflicted suffering. Our Jewish tradition teaches us to stand up for those who are in danger, and our own history teaches us that, as Elie Wiesel taught us, “Silence helps the oppressor, never the oppressed.” Silence is not an option. We must speak up on behalf of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

We, the undersigned rabbis, all members of Torat Chayim, call upon the United States government to intercede on behalf of the persecuted, through the exertion of diplomatic pressure on the government of Myanmar. We ask members of faith communities to learn about and speak of the Rohingya refugees around family tables and in religious centers. We call upon the nations involved to stop selling arms to Myanmar. We have serious concerns about Israel, the Jewish State, which was established on the embers of the Holocaust and understands genocide all too well, selling weapons to a state behaving in such a matter. We say to the Rohingya people: You are not alone.

Rabbi Dr. Marc Angel

Rabbi Dr. Ariel Burger

Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo

Rabbi Yehoshua Engelman

Rabbi Dr. Zev Farber

Rabbi Avidan Freedman

Rabbi Marc Gitler

Rabbi Dr. Mel Gottlieb

Rabbi Steve Greenberg

Rabbi Dr. Yitz Greenberg

Rabbi Tyson Herberger

Rabbi Dr. Meesh Hammer-Kossoy

Rabbi Ari Hart

Rabbi Benjamin Hassan

Rabbi David Jaffe

Rabbi Shaul David Judelman

Rabbi David Kalb

Rabbi Tzvi Koren

Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn

Rabbi Gabriel N. Kretzmer Seed

Rabbi Daniel Landes

Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz

Rabbi Yehoshua Looks

Rabbi Asher Lopatin

Rabbi Michael Melchior

Rabbi Avram Mlotek

Rosh Kehilah Dina Najman

Rabbi Micha Odenheimer

Rabbi Aaron Potek

Rabbi Dr. David Rosen

Rabbi Abe Schacter-Gampel

Rabbi Daniel Raphael Silverstein

Rabbi Devin Villarreal

Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.