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Major U.S. Jewish groups urge Biden: Welcome Ukrainian refugees ‘without further delay’

This article originally appeared on Haaretz, and was reprinted here with permission.

Major U.S. Jewish establishment organizations urged U.S. President Joe Biden to rescue and welcome, at a minimum, Ukrainian refugees with close family ties in the United States without further delay.

In a letter sent Friday spearheaded by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and co-signed by 27 other groups, it was stated that “This is the time for America to reassert its leadership in welcoming refugees, and that leadership must come from the White House.”

“We, leaders of the American Jewish community – a community founded and built by refugees – are concerned for the protection of all Ukrainians who are forced to flee. During the 19th and 20th Century, Jews fled Ukraine as Jews, fleeing antisemitism. Today, our Jewish brothers and sisters are fleeing as Ukrainians just like millions of other Ukrainians,” the Jewish organizations noted.

The groups argue that the U.S. “can and must share responsibility” with Eastern European countries for taking in record numbers of refugees, noting that “most of the refugees who have fled Ukraine are women and children, with men over 18 required to stay in Ukraine. Those with close family in America should be able to wait with their loved ones in the United States until it is safe to return to Ukraine.”

“Our community knows painfully too well what happens when America shuts its doors to refugees. It is for that reason we have always advocated on behalf of refugees both Jewish and non-Jewish,” they stressed, citing the Clinton administration’s flexibility in resettling refugees fleeing Kosovo in 1999.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will deliver a members-only virtual address on Wednesday. “

“The Congress remains unwavering in our commitment to supporting Ukraine as they face Putin’s cruel and diabolical aggression, and to passing legislation to cripple and isolate the Russian economy as well as deliver humanitarian, security and economic assistance to Ukraine,” they wrote to fellow lawmakers, adding that “we look forward to the privilege of welcoming President Zelenskyy’s address to the House and Senate and to convey our support to the people of Ukraine as they bravely defend democracy.”

Zelenskyy has previously addressed hundreds of members of Congress imploring them to ban the importation of Russian oil and to send jets to Ukraine. He has endeavored to address legislative bodies around the world in hopes of rallying support for Ukraine, including requesting the chance to address Israel’s Knesset. Because he made his request to Israel as the Knesset session was adjourning, he will meet with Israeli lawmakers over Zoom instead of appearing before them on a large screen. Numerous Israeli and Ukrainian lawmakers found the workaround plan disrespectful while observers deemed it a self-defeating example of Israel’s attempts at demonstrating support for Ukraine while avoiding directly alienating Russia, as Israel attempts to position itself as a go-between for Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

This article originally appeared on Haaretz, and was reprinted here with permission.

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