January 31, 2012
Dear Senator Kerry,
We are writing on behalf of the members of our congregation in West Roxbury about a significant human rights issue. The rapidly deteriorating situation of the Palestinian refugees in Iraq and Syria has been brought to our attention by Thaer Abdallah, a Palestinian who spoke to at a very large gathering at our temple in honor of International Human Rights Day on December 10, 2011. At that time, Thaer described his difficult journey as a Palestinian refugee in Iraq and Syria and the assistance that Senator Kennedy gave him to resettle in the US.
As Thaer undoubtedly explained to your staff last week, he was able to emigrate to the US and marry his American wife, Sheila. Now, Thaer has drawn all of our attention to the plight of other Palestinian refugees who remain in Baghdad. Our congregation joins with Thaer in urging you to take action to stop the violence against Palestinian refugees.
First, we urge you to ask the State Department staff to contact the Iraqi government and request an immediate cessation of violence against Palestinian refugees, in particular the ending of harassment, night raids, detention, and related police actions conducted by the Iraqi Special Forces.
Second, we urge you to ask the State Department to resettle the Palestinian refugees (400 in total) from the closed Al Waleed and Al Hol camps on the Iraq-Syrian border These refugees have nowhere else to go, and without passports they are in danger of being returned to the dangerous situation in Baghdad. We urge you to make sure that these refugees are given asylum in the United States as quickly as possible.
Thank you for your attention to this very important, timely human rights issue.
Rabbi Barbara Penzner Shelley Stevens, President
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