Reform-Jewish Opposition to President Trump’s Immigration Policy Is Based on False Torah and History
No rational discussion of the current immigration controversy in the United States can begin without an analysis of the specious arguments against the immigration plans by President Donald J Trump, marshalled by his political opponents.
A good example is the denunciation of the President’s January 27, 2017 executive order, issued by the Jewish Reform Movement. The movement objected to the indefinite suspension of Syrian refugees entering the US and the four-month suspension of the entire refugee program. For decades, these would-be immigrants have been able to seek haven in the US even though no alien, of any stripe, has any inherent right to enter the US. Even Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY), have recognized the urgent need to reevaluate America’s seriously inadequate vetting process.
All Mr. Trump’s executive order seeks to do is bar potentially hostile aliens from entering the country. Despite the executive order, admittance to the US by most of the world’s Muslims would continue unabated.
According to US law, an individual’s religion or nationality is not the criterion for access. But, in 2016, 99.1 percent of refugees entering the US were Muslims; only .5 percent of refugees were Christians, and .8 percent were Yazidis. Statutes permitting Presidents to regulate immigration explicitly refer to concerns of religious persecution, and yet former President Barack Obama clearly left Christians and Yazidis, whose annihilation is the stated goal of Islamists, out in the cold.
Italian-Israeli journalist Fiamma Nirenstein has asked why there was no outcry from the mainstream media when, on six separate occasions, Mr. Obama barred a number of political groups from entering the US, or when former President Jimmy Carter rescinded the visas of Iranians visiting the US.
It can be argued that Mr. Trump’s January executive order could have been more precise and less confusing in its targeting of genuine extremist threats to the country. It could have included countries whose citizens have perpetrated crimes in the US. Fortunately, many of the order’s flaws have been corrected or amended.
Danger from Refugees and Home-Grown Terrorists
In testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on June 16, 2016, then-CIA Director John O. Brennan, reported on the real and potential danger Americans face from refugees as well as home-grown terrorists.
He noted that, since 2014, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) “has been working to build an apparatus to direct and inspire attacks against its foreign enemies, resulting in hundreds of casualties. The most prominent examples are the attacks in Paris and Brussels, which, we assess, were directed by ISIS’s leadership.”
Further, he said, the organization has a large cadre of Western fighters “who could potentially serve as operatives for attacks in the West.”
“And the group is probably exploring a variety of means for infiltrating operatives into the West, including refugee flows, smuggling routes, and legitimate methods of travel,” he said.
Regrettably, the CIA’s predictions have materialized. Recent massacres have been committed by ISIS-inspired followers in San Bernardino, California; Orlando, Florida; and at the Fort Lauderdale airport. Large numbers of US residents have been accused and some found guilty of helping fund the Islamic State. Some supporters have clandestinely left the US to fight for the caliphate in Syria and Iraq. ISIS urges those unable to reach the Middle East to launch attacks in their own countries.
Author and Middle East analyst Dr. Daniel Pipes has estimated that between 10 and 15 percent of Muslim immigrants want to implement Islamic law (Shari’a) in their adopted countries. This does not mean Muslims who choose for themselves to observe dietary laws (consuming halal meat and other products), rites-of-passage, or holidays. It means other customs, as well, including some that are specifically outlawed by US statutes, such as instituting the secondary status of women; performing genital mutilation on female children; or engaging in so-called “honor murders” when young women choose not to marry a partner chosen by their male relatives. Many Muslims take as their goal the imposition of Shari’a law on the entire population of their adopted countries.
For years, Dr. Pipes and other Middle East experts, including Andrew Bostom and Bat Ye’or, have warned against the Islamist goal. In her 2007 work, “Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis,” Ms. Ye’or maintained that the transformation of Europe into “Eurabia” would make the continent “a cultural and political appendage of the Arab/Muslim world.” The objective, she said, is to destroy Western culture and replace it with the Muslims’ own “culture of dhimmitude,” one in which non-Muslims are forced to become a “protected” minority, subordinating themselves to restrictive and degrading Islamic law to avoid death or enslavement.
For 1,300 years, this jihad political force has subjugated and even eliminated major Judeo-Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, and other religious civilizations in Europe, India, Asia, Africa, and throughout the Middle East. Non-Muslims converted, disappeared, or were rendered incapable of further development.
Need for Extreme Vetting
Under the leadership of their elected President, Americans have a right to determine who should and should not be allowed to enter their country, and the Constitution gives the President statutory authority to implement the policy he deems necessary.
According to Dr. Pipes, identifying Islamists—those who want to impose Shari’a law on others—as opposed to peaceful Muslims is quite difficult. In many cases, Islamists have deceived the White House; the Departments of Defense (viz., the Fort Hood massacre), Justice, State, and Treasury; Congress; many municipalities; and numerous local, state, and federal law-enforcement agencies.
In 2015, the White House engaged its staff in deliberations with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), even though the group’s initial funding emanated from a recognized terrorist group and there were records of repeated arrests and deportations of its employees on charges of terrorism and a history of duplicity. The stated objective of one of CAIR’s leaders was to ensure that Islam became the only acceptable religion in the US.
As a strategy to impose Shari’a, some Islamists adopt a more moderate and discreet approach, which allows them to enter the US and then exploit the American legal system.
Clearly, these scenarios point to the need for what Mr. Trump has called “extreme vetting.” Dr. Pipes suggests one of the ways to do this is to decrease the number of immigrants entering the country. In 1965, immigrants comprised five percent of the US population; by 2015, the number climbed to 15 percent. In 2065, it is projected that 18 percent of the population will consist of immigrants. When so many immigrants come from countries that do not share American culture and, more importantly, values, the US cannot hope to assimilate all of them into American society and instill them with American values.
Legitimate and Justifiable Concern
Middle East scholar and director of Former Muslims United, Nonie Darwish, maintains that none of her Arab and/or Muslim friends expressed objections to Mr. Trump’s executive order. According to Ms. Darwish, many peaceful Muslim immigrants support the desire for extreme vetting because they are exasperated and embarrassed by the actions of the jihadists.
Ms. Darwish appreciates the kindheartedness that motivates Americans to welcome millions of Muslim refugees into the US, but she called it “reckless compassion.”
“Why isn’t Saudi Arabia taking refugees temporarily until things settle down in Syria and Iraq? Do Westerners question the motivation of Islamic theocracies, as to why ultra-rich Arab nations are sending us their refugees but taking in none?” she said.
She questioned who is gaining from the US policy of appeasement towards the Islamists and their “Shari’a-stricken theocracies and their jihadist, hate-filled education.” “Some ‘tough love’ is urgently needed if Muslims are to be motivated to change and reform,” she said.
Learning from Europe
In an interview in July 2004 in the German daily Die Welt, which was widely recounted in the American press, the British-American historian Bernard Lewis, who specializes in Oriental studies, Islam, and the Middle East, predicted that by the end of the 21st century “at the very least,” Europe will become Islamic. In February 2017, Soeren Kern, a senior fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute as well as the senior analyst for European politics at the Madrid-based Strategic Studies Group think tank, reported that Germany’s Muslim population — which in 2016 exceeded six million— has “irrevocably changed” Germany forever.
The influx of Muslims into Europe prompted people like Dr. Lewis to contemplate why this should be so. He explained that Muslims harbor hostility towards Christians because Islam views Christianity as “a rival world religion and competitor in the cosmic struggle to being enlightenment—and, with it, inevitably, domination—to all humanity.”
This is a particular challenge to the strain of Islam called “Wahhabism,” which is usually described as austere, ultra-conservative, and fundamentalist. It is also violent and fanatical.
At an April 27, 2006 Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Dr. Lewis addressed the issue of what he called the “Wahhabi menace,” which, he said, is a particular problem found in the Muslim communities in Europe and America. He framed the problem as Muslim objection to their having fallen “behind the modern world.” The Muslim world could respond by working to transform their society, enabling it to take a vital part in the modern world. Wahhabism is a rejection of that path, a dismissal of the “infidel” world and a reversion to what they see as genuine Islamic tradition.
In virtually all Western cities, Muslims who want to educate their children in their faith and culture, will find almost all educational venues controlled and financed by the Wahhabi strain of the religion. According to Dr. Lewis, this guarantees that Muslims residing in the West will receive “an intense indoctrination from the most radical, the most violent, the most extreme and fanatical version of Islam.”
Most non-Muslim Westerners are accustomed to reassurances from their politicians that the vast majority of Muslims are not involved in terrorism. This is an accurate assessment. Nevertheless, for more than a decade, Europe has grappled with the issue of how to integrate new Muslim immigrants into their society. At best, the results have been mixed. A plethora of think tanks and news reports have documented the enormous havoc and turmoil born in the wake of the refugees’ entry into European society.
Historian and political commentator Walter Lacquer has noted the thousands of young Muslim men in Britain, France, Spain, and Italy who sympathize with the Jihadists. Even when these young men know where terrorists are hiding, they will do nothing to assist law enforcement. It is well recognized that, without assistance from supporters and sympathizers, terrorists could not succeed. Therefore, this lack of assistance from the Muslim community has become a prime problem for Europe’s security services. The situation is not helped by the fact that many European politicians are loath to warn their local Muslim communities that by not helping law enforcement locate terrorists, the Muslims are not doing their civic duty.
Dutch columnist Timon Dias, whose special interest is Middle Eastern politics and Islam, has pointed to another problem: the widely-underreported and uniquely European phenomenon of “Gangster Islam.” According to Mr. Dias, those who become perpetrators of this problem represent “the conflation of the seemingly a-religious street culture of youths from a Muslim background on the one hand, and elements of the Islamic religion on the other.”
Both groups share many characteristics: a predominantly Muslim identity; intense, outspoken animosity towards Jews; and a veneration of violence. They also share a fundamental aim: the intention to undermine the social fabric of their European host societies.
The gangsters commit robberies, publicly harass innocent citizens, and engage in drug trafficking, often using the excuse that they are outraged by their non-Muslim neighbors who find such behavior insufferable. The gangsters and their supporters express their frustrations at what they see as “exclusion and disenfranchisement” by inciting what can only be called a crime wave, which, in turn, creates widespread insecurity in the greater community at large. Often non-Muslim residents respond to the reign of terror by fleeing the neighborhood.
While many of these gangsters are not Jihadists, Mr. Dias observed that the Islamists rarely criticize their behavior, chiefly because the Islamists themselves are religiously motivated to destabilize the Western societies in which they find themselves. The Muslim street gangsters are performing the same function, albeit in a manner usually devoid of religious content. Ultimately, the Islamists’ goal is to subvert European societies primarily by those who identify themselves as Muslims.
For this reason, Mr. Dias takes issue with those European officials who maintain that the problems they face are entirely caused by Islamists and not Muslim society as a whole. According to Mr. Dias, until the political leaders recognize that the challenge they face is more pervasive and prevalent, they will fail to develop corrective strategies to confront those seeking to destroy Europe’s way of life.
Few observers of the European upheaval in the wake of mass Muslim immigration were surprised by the results of a survey on immigration conducted in ten European countries by London’s Chathan House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, shortly before President Trump’s first executive order on immigration was announced. Respondents were asked to evaluate their level of agreement with the statement: “All further migration from mainly Muslim countries should be stopped.”
In all ten countries, an average of 55 percent concurred that all additional migration from primarily Muslim countries should cease; 25 percent voiced no opinion; and 20 percent disagreed with the statement.
Majorities in all but two of the ten states agreed with the statement, varying from 71 percent in Poland, 65 percent in Austria, 53 percent in Germany, and 51 percent in Italy; to 47 percent in the United Kingdom and 41 percent in Spain. In none of the countries did the percentage of those disagreeing exceed 32 percent.
What Are American Jews Thinking?
The American-Jewish response to the same issue seems to be out of sync with both the facts and experience. According to Charles Jacobs, president of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, virtually every prospective Syrian immigrant to the US has been educated in institutions that portray “Jews as morally corrupt,” pit “all Muslims everywhere against non-Muslims anywhere,” and mandate violence against apostates “as a religious duty.”
Nevertheless, American Jews who identify with the political left, favor allowing as many Muslim immigrants into the country as possible, leading many other Americans, Jews and Gentiles, to wonder why the left-wing American Jews would want to admit individuals who are known to despise them and either want them killed or relegated to second-class status, dhimmitude, according to Shari’a law.
Who is vetting these refugees to determine if they embrace such views?” asked Dr. Jacobs.
The left-wing Jews who favor mass Muslim immigration into the US do not express moral outrage when Jewish Israelis are prohibited from entering most Muslim-dominated countries, including Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya. They do not question if it is acceptable for six of the seven countries listed by President Trump in his original executive order to ban entry to holders of Israeli passports. The liberal-Jewish community has not responded as to why this double standard is tolerated.
Nor is there an expression of rage from the liberal Jews against the slaughter of innocent Christians and the destruction of churches throughout the Muslim Middle East. In Syria and Iraq, where there have been historically sizable Christian communities, Christians have been oppressed and expelled from their homes by ISIS and other Sunni-Muslim groups.
Sunni Muslims usually give their Shiite brethren a different choice: conversion or death.
Similarly, left-wing Jews expressed no anger about Mr. Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, which remains a clear existential threat to Israel and the West in general. There was no outrage even after David Samuels’ interview of Ben Rhodes, who played a major role in helping the Obama administration sell the agreement to the American public, appeared in the May 5, 2016 issue of the New York Times. “Even where the particulars of that story [on the virtues of the Iran nuclear deal] are true, the implications that readers and viewers are encouraged to take away from those particulars are often misleading or false,” said Mr. Samuels.
According to the interview, Mr. Rhodes “readily admitted” that the work he did selling the deal “is a potentially dangerous distortion of democracy, but he also felt it had become a necessary evil, causes by the fracturing of the 20th-century mass audience and the decline of the American press.”
Misuse of the Torah
Leaders of the Reform Movement in the US justify their opposition to Mr. Trump’s executive order on immigration based on the conviction that Jews “know the impact that xenophobia and religious profiling have on all people whose lives are endangered by exclusionary laws.”
To bolster their argument, the Reform leaders cite a passage from Vayikra (Leviticus) 19:33: “We have not forgotten our charge: When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”
First, this is a misstatement of the Scripture which refers to those “strangers” already residing in the midst of the Israelites. It does not refer to unknown prospective enemies. Furthermore, attempting to compare the “stranger” in the Torah to Muslims seeking refuge in the US is simply an inexcusable distortion of the Biblical text. The “stranger” is an halachically converted Jew, living in the land of Israel, who has renounced idol worship and is now focused on Torah study. The Torah warns against disparaging converts in any way, but, rather, demands that they be embraced with love and treated as valued members of the Jewish community.
Further, the Reform misreading completely omits the Jewish concept of the “rodef,” an individual who is pursuing another for the purpose of murder. Identifying an individual as a “rodef” empowers potentially lethal action against an attacker.
In short, by “stranger,” the Torah does not refer to someone with a different religion, legal system, culture, and traditions, who wants to immigrate to the land of Israel and maintain that foreign way of life with the ultimate goal of forcing that religion on the Jewish public. Attempting to draw a universal, modern-day “humanistic” message from this passage is misleading.
Misuse of the Shoah
Another left-wing ploy is the attempt to use the Holocaust to justify welcoming thousands of unvetted Muslim refugees into the US. However, equating President Trump’s executive order to the “paper walls,” the bureaucratic and administrative minutiae used by the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt to keep Jews from seeking a haven in the US during World War II, is historically inaccurate. In that case, the US State Department, under Assistant Secretary of State Breckinridge Long, thwarted Jewish immigration to America by creating a quota system of regulations and obstacles that were practically insurmountable.
Widespread antisemitism, nativism, and a policy of “America First” were the primary forces behind this campaign to exclude Jews. The word “refugee,” which implied “alien” to the bureaucrats and “secret agent” to the military, were immorally and dishonestly used to rationalize barring Jews.
Additionally, some members of Congress and the American public believed Jews coming from Eastern Europe were radicals, perhaps even Communists, who would become a “fifth column” in the US.
In any case, there is no evidence of any terrorist acts committed by Jewish refugees against the American homeland during the period 1933-1945, rendering the alleged comparison by liberal groups moot. The European Jews who sought refuge in the US did not want to transform America into a Jewish state in which Jewish laws would be the law of the land, imposed on Americans, whether they liked it or not. To the contrary, most Jews viewed America as Die Goldene Medina (The Golden Land), where they would be free from oppression, able to live in a democratic society, practice their religion and traditions freely, and raise their children to be good Jews and responsible citizens of the US.
Nevertheless, the liberal groups’ attempt to use this comparison calls for a further analysis of exactly what happened to thwart the entry of Jewish would-be refugees into the US during World War II.
On June 26, 1940, Mr. Long informed Assistant Secretary of State Adolf A. Beryl and the State Department Advisor on Political Relations James Dunn that the department was able to “delay and effectively stop for a temporary period of indefinite length” the entry of Jewish immigrants to the US. This could be accomplished, he said, by “simply advising our Consul to put every obstacle in the way and to resort to various administrative advices [sic] which would postpone the granting of visas.”
Each Consul throughout the world had extensive discretion in determining eligibility of those who had applied to enter the US, using the limitations provided in the LPC (“likely to become a public charge”) clause of the 1917 immigration act. Under LPC, a refugee could easily be denied entry if the Consul arbitrarily decided the candidate might become reliant on the US government for subsistence.
Within existing US quotas at the time, more than 153,000 immigrants could have gained entry into the country annually between 1933 and 1945. Had the law been properly implemented, more than 1.8 million people would have been admitted, a far higher total than the approximately 200,000 who were actually allowed into the US during that entire 12-year period. Most of the slots permitted by the quotas were left unfilled because Mr. Roosevelt supported the State Department’s determination to reduce severely the number of people entering the US.
Summarizing the callous and unconscionable behavior of the American government’s immigration policy during World War II, historian Henry Feingold recalled the explanation a rabbi once gave to Rep Emanuel Celler (D-NY), a Jewish member of the House Judiciary Committee: “Had six million cattle been slaughtered, there would have been some outcry, at least from animal lovers. But, in the case of fellow human beings, there was only eerie silence.”
Unlike the Muslim refugees who, at best, are seeking to enter the US simply to avoid a civil war rather than join a resistance group to fight against ISIS, the Jews of Europe sought refuge in the US because the Nazis—and even many of the resistance groups who opposed the Nazis—were determined to annihilate them.
Those who would learn from history must be concerned about objective truth and transmitting what actually occurred. They cannot allow individuals and groups who are either ignorant or are actively engaged in pushing their own particular agendas, to obscure a truthful understanding of what happened in the past. Making a distinction between different historical events, does not and should not either lessen or demean the suffering of others. It simply means false analogies must be avoided.
Dr. Grobman, a Hebrew University-trained historian, is a consultant to the America-Israel Friendship League, a member of the Council of Scholars for Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) and a member of the Advisory Board of The Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET)