(Originally posted to the author’s website, Emes Ve-Emunah}
Who can forget the scenes just a few months ago of Muslim refugees primarily from war torn Syria who risked life and limb crossing dangerous waters in an attempt to escape the horrors of war and find refuge in Europe – or even America. The by now famous image of a Hungarian border guard carrying the lifeless body of a small child out of the water could not have been more heart wrenching.
Nor could the sense of outrage felt by many who viewed the hard line of many European countries that refused these refugees entry. This is how I felt viewing those images. On the other hand some countries did accept – or promised to accept – a limited amount of refugees, including the United States, the Medina Shel Chesed. France took in some of those refugees too. One or more of them (who came in via Greece) ended up as one of the perpetrators of last Friday’s terrorist attack in Paris that took the lives of 129 people and injured hundreds of others.
That raises a serious question. Should the United States now allow those refugees in? Do we deny entry to all of those desperate innocent people just because a suicide bomber might come in with them?
For me the answer is very clear. Absolutely. That may surprise some people. I am after all a child of the Holocaust. My parents were survivors who hid out during the war under deplorable conditions – living every day with the fear that they may be discovered by the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz. If anyone should support refuge for people whose lives are threatened by the likes of ISIS, it should be people whose close family members had similar experiences during the Holocaust and denied refuge in America.
Images of the St. Louis come to mind. The St. Louis was a ship that set sail from Germany in 1939 packed with 908 German Jews seeking refuge in the United States, Canada, and Cuba – and denied entry!? We know what happened to them. Most of them perished in European countries that eventually did accept them but were later overrun by the Nazis. How can I not have sympathy for people that are seeking the same thing now? Have I not learned anything from that experience?
There is a big difference between Jews seeking refuge then and the Syrian Muslims seeking it now. Not a single subset of the Jewish people threatened the world with take-over under a caliphate. They were not threatening to destroy democracies like Israel or rattling their sabers shouting, ‘Death to America’. Or burning American flags.No segment of Jewry was beheading infidels. No Jew ever blew himself up in a suicide attack.
There was not a single Jew that wanted anything more than refuge in a safe country. Staying in Europe under a genocidal Nazi regime was a sure death sentence. Every single Jew was to be murdered under them. There were no choices given to them to convert to Nazism or die as there is to Syrian Muslims to convert to the ISIS version of Islam or die.
Now it’s true that the vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists. And that almost all of those seeking refuge today – do so legitimately with no ulterior motive. But the key word there is ‘almost’. There are enough ISIS type Muslims that will infiltrate the refugees and cross the border with them – only to come back and blow themselves up in front of a soccer stadium.
No country should be asked to accept that risk. Difficult as it is for me to say that refuge to so many innocent people in such desperate straits should be denied – if I were in charge, I would have no choice but to protect the American people from that kind of threat. France has learned that the hard way and has closed its borders. I don’t think we should wait until it happens to us before we do that. At least as far as Syrian or Iraqi refugees are concerned.
There are those who might say that there is a way to allow the refugees into our country by vetting them. Homeland Security will do their due diligence to distinguish between those sincere in seeking only refuge, and ISIS terrorists that come in camouflaged as refugees. That would be wonderful solution if it were possible. But as Senator Marco Rubio said when asked that question yesterday, ’Who are you going to call in Syria to find out if a given refugee is who he says he is’?
So accepting refugees wholesale is just too dangerous at this point in time. I do not want to live in a neighborhood where Syrian refugees will have settled. Which in Chicago would very likely be in the Rogers Park area where I live. And where 2 of my daughters and their families live. There is a very large population of Muslims living in that area right now and a natural destination for them..
That said, I would allow for exceptions where a refugee could be truly vetted. But since the likelihood of vetting 65,000 refugees (the number we have agreed to take in, if I understand correctly) is virtually impossible, I would prevent that from happening.
What about the pain and suffering that will result from all those people being denied refuge? I have no answer. As a child of the Holocaust, my heart goes out to them. I fully understand their predicament. It is just as gut wrenching to me now as it was before. But we cannot afford to take the chance of letting an ISIS Jihadist slip through with them. ISIS has promised to do us what they did to France. It is only a matter of time. The least we can do is not help them.
The ultimate solution for those refugees is to get them their country back. Along with the rest of the civilized world – we can do that. We just need the will.