Across Israel, Meir Panim responds to the growing needs of the country’s 1.75 million impoverished residents through various food and social service programs.
Not since the height of the Cold War has our nation been this wary of foreigners, or this uncertain as to how to best respond to external threats to our national security.
Illegal immigration remains a major concern, both in terms of how to prevent and what to do to with the estimated twelve million illegal immigrants who have already entered the country. According to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll, the overwhelming majority of Americans think their country’s immigration policies need to be seriously overhauled. And despite vigorous protests against Arizona’s stringent new immigration enforcement law, a majority of Americans support it, even though they acknowledge it may lead to racial profiling.
Still, Americans remain deeply divided about what to do to address the immigration conundrum. According to the poll, the public broadly agrees (78 percent) the country must do more along its border to keep illegal immigrants out. This consensus fractures, however, on the question of the exact role of states in enforcing immigration law, which is normally a federal responsibility.
Fifty-seven percent of those polled said the federal government, not the states, should determine the laws addressing illegal immigration. But 51 percent said the Arizona law, which gives local police officers broad power to detain and check the status of people they suspect are in the country illegally, was “about right” in its approach to the problem. Thirty-six percent said it went too far and nine percent said it did not go far enough.
Another concern for Americans is the scourge of terrorism that increasingly threatens this country. Faisal Shahzad’s near-success in detonating explosives in Times Square was just one in a series of planned and/or executed terrorist plots designed to intimidate the American people. Together, they have reinforced in the national psyche awareness that Islamic militarism is alive and well and carrying out its insidious agenda.
Apparently even our government officials do not have much confidence in our ability to address this pressing issue. House Republican leader John Boehner recently accused the Obama administration of not having a good plan to prevent domestic terrorist attacks. “Frankly most of us believe that the strategy ought to be preventing such attacks,” said Boehner, “not counting on our luck to catch them at the last moment.”
And even when we are fortunate enough to have averted tragedy, we cannot seem to agree on how to treat the suspects once they’re in custody. Civil libertarians continue to insist that suspected terrorists be read their Miranda rights like all other miscreants, despite the fact that this protection will typically keep law enforcement officials from gaining valuable intelligence about terrorist operatives.
Thankfully, even the Obama administration is waking up to the realization that individual rights sometimes must be pushed aside when public safety is at risk. Attorney General Eric Holder recently told ABC’s “This Week” that while “the [Miranda] system we have in place has proven to be effective,” the Obama administration is open to modifying such protections to deal with the “threats that we now face.”
Clearly, a more coherent legislative strategy is needed to address this growing problem. However, we as American Jews must be hopeful that such legislation will not co-opt extremist positions such as the recent proposal by Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman that American terrorists be stripped of their citizenship.
The concept is inherently flawed because it supposes that naturalized terrorists will be deterred from their ideological mission by the prospect of losing their American citizenship. Such an assumption is highly questionable, particularly when their missions are designed to result in their own deaths. And even if such a threat did concern them, they could rest comfortably knowing it is quite difficult for law enforcement officials to identify the next would-be American terrorist (officials say there was nothing in Shahzad’s background check that would have raised any red flags).
More significantly, Lieberman, as a Jew, should be wary of introducing any such legislation. After all, it wasn’t such a long time ago that the Nazis decried German Jews as enemies of the Fatherland and stripped them of their citizenship, a major step in achieving their answer to the Jewish Question.
And while we understandably bristle at any comparison between this historically benevolent and hospitable country and Nazi Germany, apparently not everyone sees it that way. In the words of Los Angeles councilman Paul Koretz, “We can’t let this advance any further. It is absolutely dangerous.”
The U.S. has seen its fair share of discriminatory xenophobes who at different points in time went to great lengths to keep foreigners far from American shores, from the 19th century Know Nothing Party and the KKK to the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
Most damaging for Jews desperately seeking asylum from abject poverty, persecutions, the ravages of war-torn Europe and Nazism were the Emergency Immigration Act of 1921 and the Johnson-Reed Immigration Act of 1924. These laws slowed Jewish immigration down significantly.
Jews who did manage to reach America during this period, like those who had arrived earlier, were subjected to virulent anti-Semitism as showcased during the Leo Frank trial, in Henry Ford’s Dearborn Independent, and on Father Charles Coughlin’s popular radio program. They were also forced to endure a quieter but no less damaging anti-Semitism that expressed itself in the marketplace, in social clubs, in universities admissions offices and in residency restrictions. It took several decades for many of those anti-Jewish attitudes to begin to dissipate.
Let us hope our legitimate security concerns will not make it all too easy for fear and paranoia to replace fact and civility.
About the Author: Rabbi Naphtali Hoff is president of Impactful Coaching and Consulting (ImpactfulCoaching.com). He can be reached at email@example.com.
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The unwarranted hatred among us that caused the destruction of the Second Temple clearly still plagues us.
The answer is an emphatic no.
Don’t Israelis and Arab Palestinians deserve more than this? Is it not time to stop the insanity?
At age 104, my mother was still concerned about her relationship with Hashem.
Obama’s incompetence, the way his naive worldview and credulity have made a fool of him, are equally frightening
“The only difference between this world and the time of Meshiach is our bondage to the gentile kingdoms.”
You’ve discovered our little secret!
Klein’s challenger has demonstrated a propensity to unleash poisonous vitriol, even to other Zionists
President Obama’s foreign policy is based on fantasy.
Welcome the book of Leviticus!
If the nationalist Knesset members don’t provide the answer, the Arab MKs will do so in their place.
International Agunah Day falls annually on Ta’anis Esther, this year on March 13.
Yeshiva University Museum recently hosted an exhibit titled “Threshold to the Sacred.”
Humility is perhaps the least understood quality a person may possess. Often it is perceived as a form of meekness, a reticence that stems from a lack of self-confidence or an unwillingness to stand up and assert oneself. But that is far from what true humility is.
Throughout the past week we have thanked Hashem for the improbable defeat of the powerful Seleucid forces by a small, untrained band of Jewish fighters. We also celebrated the story’s one open miracle, when the menorah’s lights burned for eight consecutive days following the Temple’s rededication.
The exchange was brief and simple in its content, yet profound in its implications.
One morning this past summer, I davened at a shul in Passaic, New Jersey. Passaic was our new home as of mid-July, following nearly a decade of school leadership in other communities. After tefillah, I opened a conversation with someone who had also just concluded his tenure as a principal out of state. He informed me he had left the field of education entirely and had moved to the tri-state area to go into business with a relative. In the course of our talk, he mentioned that another colleague, also young by comparative standards, was not returning to the school he had helped found out west.
Throughout our nation’s long history we have resided in countless countries and lived under numerous governmental regimes. For the most part, our existence in the diaspora has been difficult at best, intolerable at worst.
Earlier this month the London Games were all the rage. Tens of thousands descended upon Great Britain’s crown jewel to witness the Olympics and cheer for their respective countrymen.
After three-plus years of economic challenge and uncertainty, we remain anxious for positive news, the kind that will finally let us believe the worst is fully behind us. Unfortunately, the outlook for the 2012 global economy remains uninspiring: recession in Europe, anemic growth in the U.S. and a sharp slowdown in China and other emerging-market economies all weigh on economist forecasts.
Asara B’Teves, the 10th of Teves, commemorates the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar that ultimately culminated with the First Temple’s destruction on the 9th of Av the following year.
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