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Partners For Change: Immigration

No part of the American story is more important to preserve than our rich and proud tradition of responding to the yearnings in all people for personal freedom, political rights and economic opportunity....

Clinton and Gore expressed their support for the longstanding American commitment to the freedom of emigration of Jews. At least 10 Presidents, going back as far as Ulysses S. Grant, intervened on behalf of Russian Jewry. The United States and Israel also worked together for the freedom of Ethiopian Jews. The United States continues to fight to help Jews in other imperiled communities, like Syria and Yemen, emigrate to their homeland.

Meanwhile, Israel has done a remarkable job absorbing millions of immigrants from more than 70 countries. Israel has also taken extraordinary measures on occasion to rescue victims of persecution, as was the case when Vietnamese boat people and Bosnian Muslims were given refuge. The commitment to freedom is one of the deepest held values the two nations share.

Lessons in Absorption

The United States has provided a significant amount of aid and guarantees to assist in the resettlement of Jews in their homeland. This enduring humanitarian commitment has strengthened Israel. This generosity can be repaid by Israel sharing the lessons it has learned in integrating people from diverse cultures, teaching them a language and providing for their welfare.

One model from which the United States can learn is Yemin Orde, a children's village for Ethiopian, Russian, Brazilian and Israeli children.

Rep. Lucien Blackwell of Philadelphia was a member of a delegation of the Black Congressional Caucus who visited Yemin Orde in 1993. Afterward, he wrote:

The unique and innovative approach that the Israeli government has taken toward its new citizens is remarkable. They are provided with housing assistance that allows them to own their own homes shortly after their arrival. They are afforded opportunities in education and vocational training. In short, they are made to feel as welcome as possible in their new surroundings. It would seem to me that if we followed the examples of the Israeli government here in America, and spent the time and resources to make our newest citizens feel as welcome as possible, we could take great strides in eradicating a lot of the prejudice that is so prevalent here.