On the heels of news that President Trump’s revised executive order temporarily banning refugees and travelers from six Muslim-majority countries would be halted before it could take effect, David Miliband, president and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and former UK foreign secretary, spoke to a crowd at the Jewish Theological Seminary in Morningside Heights, Manhattan about how communities of faith can most effectively respond to the most serious refugee crisis since World War II. The free public lecture was orchestrated by The Jewish Theological Seminary’s Louis Finkelstein Institute, which brings together great thinkers from diverse academic, social, political, and religious spheres to wrestle with the most urgent challenges of the day, such as the current refugee crisis we face globally.
Miliband has been outspoken in his opposition to both iterations of the President’s executive order, calling the premise “cruel and counterproductive, stranding some of the most vulnerable and most vetted people in the world.” Miliband’s major warning to the United States is that the only “winner” in this situation are the extremists telling Muslims not to trust the west, he strongly believes this ban will have negative foreign policy implications on all western countries currently grappling with obligations to refugees.
Following Miliband’s remarks, attendees discussed how best to come together as an interfaith community to protect and welcome refugees and immigrants as U.S. policies continue to evolve. Rebecca Bardach, the former director and senior protection officer of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, led the question and answer segment.