Torah for Today: What does the Torah say about the crisis in Calais?
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Torah for Today: What does the Torah say about the crisis in Calais?

By Rabbi Zvi Solomons

Torah-For-Today-300x206

The Torah teaches us to support the vulnerable, the stranger in our midst. Refugees are one such category. Yet we see on the news would-be illegal immigrants storming the fence at Calais in order to burst into Britain. They cling to the undercarriage of aircraft, get into lorries to hide in the rear, have been found in the back of holidaymakers’ cars, and have even found their way on foot through the tunnel, almost to the other side.

What of these young men?

Before 1905, anyone could come to this country without a visa. That year, the Aliens Act was passed specifically to prevent Jews from getting in. My own grandmother came in to Hull in 1911 only to be turned back – so she went round the other way and came over through Calais. Every Jew in the UK is here, directly or indirectly, as a result of immigration.

In the Torah, we see that a country is allowed to control its own borders. The government controls who sets foot here. This is evidenced by the Edomites and the two kings who refuse Moses and the children of Israel passage on their way to Canaan. The Torah describes expansively the boundaries of the land of Israel which we are to inherit, and Moses states in Parshat Haazinu that God separated the lands of the heathens, setting their boundaries (Deuteronomy 32:8).

In the same portion, Rashi comments on the words “iron and brass are your locks,” saying that the men of the border towns would be so firm in their guarding of the borders that it was as if they locked them with such materials. In the Shulchan Aruch, we hear that in a border town, a person may even violate Shabbat to repel people seeking to enter illegally and take over the land (Orach Chaim 229:6).

The desperation of those trying to get to Britain is heartbreaking. The humanitarian concerns for refugees must take precedence, and it has to be noted that Britain is not easy to get into legally; we treat immigrants atrociously, locking up many “suspected illegals” indefinitely.

Immigrants by and large contribute a net benefit financially to the country and they are prepared to take on jobs nobody else is prepared to perform. Yet we need to exert our control of our borders.

The people in Calais are clearly not in danger; they are, however, acting dangerously. They are trying to get to Britain because they see it as advantageous, for financial reasons. The Government is entitled in Halacha to prevent entry, and to sift the genuine humanitarian cases from those trying to benefit financially. Perhaps we need to create a more logical visa scheme, to avoid these horrid scenes.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments