Since 2011, over 4 million Syrians have been forced to flee their homeland due to the Syrian Civil War, and another 5 million have been internally displaced within Syria. The U.S., like many other countries such as Canada, the U.K., and France, has accepted only token numbers of Syrian refugees, effectively turning their backs on the Syrian people. Saudi Arabia and other gulf countries, as well as Israel, have gone even further and generally refused to accept any refugees. While President Obama has recently increased the cap to 10,000 Syrian refugees, which would still amount to only a quarter of 1% of the current Syrian refugee population, following the ISIS terror attacks in France the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would require every migrant and refugee (Syrian or otherwise) to be individually approved by both the FBI and Homeland Security to be permitted to enter the U.S.
The Syrian refugee crisis is the most recent and severe case of a global phenomenon of mass forced migration and displacement. There are over 60 million refugees and internally displaced people worldwide, by UNRWA definitions, or almost 1% of the world’s population.
One of the largest refugee populations globally other than Syrian refugees is Palestinian refugees. Starting with the expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians from their homes and homeland in the Nakba of 1948 and the displacement of Palestinians continuing until today, there are now over 5 million Palestinian refugees according to UNRWA and an additional estimated 5-6 million Palestinians who are not classified as refugees but are living outside of historic Palestine and unable to return to their homeland. Both the displacement of Palestinians and their inability to return to Palestine are due to the policies of the Zionist, settler-colonial State of Israel, to continually push Palestinians either into smaller and smaller areas within historic Palestine or out of Palestine altogether, in order to have the most land available for Jewish settlers and to maintain a demographic Jewish majority within Israel’s borders. As Students for Justice in Palestine, and in accordance with the demands of the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, we recognize the Palestinian right of return, including reparations for the property that was stolen and an end to all Israeli terror against civilians, as fundamental to any just political solution to the plight of the Palestinian people.
When 270,000 Palestinian refugees living in Syria have also been displaced by the Syrian civil war, we must recognize that the conditions facing the Syrian and Palestinian people are interconnected. The Syrian civil war did not emerge in a vacuum, it began first as a popular uprising against the totalitarian regime of Bashar Al-Assad, and has since transformed into a proxy war between Assad’s army backed by Russian imperialism on one side, and rebel groups backed by U.S. imperialism in the form of almost $8 billion of weapons since 2011. This is the same U.S. imperialist State that provides more than $3 billion in military aid to Israel every year to maintain the Israeli occupation and to suppress the Palestinian resistance.
Since the ISIS terror attacks in Paris, Russia, Turkey, Israel, France, gulf countries, and the U.S. have all increased air strikes on Syria. We must stand with the self-determination of the Syrian people, and oppose islamophobic fear-mongering and demand that the U.S. welcomes all refugees and the end to both U.S. and Russian imperialist intervention in Syria.