Voice of the Jewish News: UK fails to honour Sir Nicky’s legacy

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Voice of the Jewish News: UK fails to honour Sir Nicky’s legacy

"We are so out of step with the rest of Western Europe that it is fast becoming a cause of national shame."

As Putin’s demonic onslaught enters its third week, the spotlight is on the world’s response to the greatest refugee crisis since 1945.

Ukraine’s neighbours have endorsed an open-door humanitarian policy, with more than 1.2 million people fleeing to Poland, 200,000 to Hungary, 120,000 to Slovakia and Moldova, 80,000 to Romania and 160,000 to other EU states, including 2,500 to the Republic of Ireland.

The UK, in contrast, has so far accepted 957 as of Wednesday, according to the prime minister, and made the process a bureaucratic ordeal.

Britain’s impressive stance on sanctions and the transfer of arms to brave Ukrainian soldiers stands in stark and shameful contrast to the treatment it is meting out to scared and exhausted women and children, with nothing but the clothes on their backs, fleeing the Russian invasion.

We are so out of step with the rest of Western Europe that it is fast becoming a cause of national shame.

As Jewish News went to press, there were assurances that a new UK processing centre in Calais will open in days, but no indication that the government is even willing to consider visa-free refuge.

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Back in 2015, Jewish News championed a Royal Mail stamp to honour Sir Nicholas Winton who, in 1939, rescued 669 mostly Jewish children fleeing another lawless European dictator.

If this country wishes to honour Sir Nicholas’ memory, it simply must follow his example.

Jews spent two millennia as refugees, hounded from place to place. Our descendants arrived in Britain fleeing persecution. Perhaps no other people on earth has such a bitter experience of what it means to be a stranger in a strange land.

No wonder more than 100 members of the community, including Liberal, Masorti and Reform rabbis, felt compelled to sign an open letter to the prime minister this week, condemning the lack of progress.

As we contemplate how helpless we are in the face of such overwhelming tragedy, it is comforting and motivating to remember the positive impact even the smallest contribution can have on another life.

So, please, support World Jewish Relief’s Ukraine Crisis Appeal by visiting www.worldjewishrelief.org. Our community should dig deep to give and give again to help the millions of innocent victims of Putin’s wicked and senseless war.

Our government may continue to fail them. We must not.

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