Sensitive to the despicable behavior by much of the world which denied haven to European Jews on the eve of the Holocaust, I react instinctively with compassion when I hear about the plight of refugees. I am personally sensitive to this issue, fortunate as an infant to have been provided with a haven in Australia on the very eve of World War II. Most of my family in Belgium was murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
But despite this, I am astonished at what I consider to be the dangerous and irrational gut response from bleeding-heart rabbis, Jewish leaders and organizations blindly calling on governments to absorb en masse the so-called “Syrian refugees” and trivializing the Holocaust by comparing them to the Jews of Nazi Europe.
The principal reason to deplore this approach is that the overwhelming majority originate from Muslim countries other than Syria, 70% of whom are estimated to be men of military age. Thus it is evident that the majority of this “refugee” population is not traditional families seeking sanctuary, but men seeking economic enhancement. Furthermore, over 95% of these “refugees” are Sunnis, which ISIS claims to represent and who, unlike the Jews during the Holocaust, do not face genocide.
Major European countries already harboring a substantial Muslim fundamentalist population will be further weakened by the new “refugees” who, whether Shiite or Sunni, all share a common contempt for democracy, Western values, Christianity and above all are pathologically anti-Semitic. It would also be delusive to imagine that these migrants will be more effectively integrated than their predecessors who seek to create parallel societies within their host countries. In the absence of adequate screening, the “refugees” will undoubtedly continue to include jihadis, especially taking account of the ISIS boasts that it has imbedded thousands of fighters in the exodus.
They will augment and strengthen the swelling Muslim community enclaves — 50 million already living in Europe — which seek to impose Sharia law. Bernard Lewis, the renowned Islamic scholar, has predicted that unless drastic steps are taken to stem this movement, the high birth rates of the migrant population will irreversibly transform the entire demography of the region and bring about a Muslim majority by the end of the century.
Setting aside the broad threat to Western civilization in Europe, it will be the Jews who will initially bear the brunt of Islamic fundamentalist hatred.
It is therefore utterly ironic that at a time when Jewish institutions and schools in Europe require military protection and many are leaving the continent because of escalating anti-Semitism, we find Jews worldwide at the vanguard promoting a migration movement comprising primarily the bitterest anti-Semitic elements.
Even more incredible is the almost universal inclination by Jewish leaders to make analogies between the status of the current Middle East refugees and Jews during the Holocaust.
Former British Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks was one of the first to make this analogy and his lead was taken up by a broad plethora of other American and global Jewish leaders and organizations ranging from the Washington Holocaust Museum to the Anti-Defamation League to the American Jewish Committee, as well as Reform, Conservative and Orthodox rabbinical groups. They all conveyed a central message: Jews, above all other groups, must support the entry of refugees because of the pain Jews underwent when anti-Semites denied them haven from the Nazis.
One of the most shocking recent remarks came from British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, a highly regarded and dedicated Jewish leader. The London Jewish Chronicle reports that Mirvis, together with four other United Synagogue rabbis, visited a refugee camp on the Macedonian border. The chief rabbi and his colleagues were warned not to inflame the prevailing hostility against Jews by the inhabitants and to “dress down” when they entered the camp and put on baseball caps to hide their kippot. Yet Mirvis was apparently so moved by the plight of the inmates that he felt obliged to draw comparisons to “what as Jewish people we have seen before. … I’ve been thinking about bunkers in Auschwitz where there was a very different end.” Ironically, Sweden’s Deputy Prime Minister Asa Romson, after making a similar statement, apologized, stating that “it was wrong to make the comparison with Auschwitz.”
While reaching out and providing assistance to refugee families in distress is highly commendable, to make such analogies between these “refugees” and Jews facing Nazi genocide is abominable and trivializes the Holocaust.
Jews who obtained refuge from the Nazis, integrated into their host societies and never sought to impose their Jewish values — in stark contrast to the tensions created in Europe over recent decades by Islamic immigrants seeking to impose Sharia law on their host societies.
In fact, the Jewish refugees and immigrants from Nazi persecution were all highly committed advocates for strengthening democracy and made major contributions to the economic and cultural enrichments of the countries that provided them haven.
Nor can one point to a single example of a second-generation Jew transformed into a terrorist by extremist rabbis as has been the case with many second-generation Muslims indoctrinated in European countries by extremist mullahs into becoming jihadis. The idea of Jews engaging in terrorism in Western countries is simply inconceivable.
These are indeed difficult problems and there is no easy solution. But to allow compassion to determine policy without reference to long-term repercussions is utterly irresponsible and a recipe for disaster.
The reality is that Western democratic values are under threat and that while multiculturalism is an idyllic concept, it can only apply in an environment where all parties accept an open society. Alas, the situation is that the Muslim radicals in Western democracies are gaining strength and becoming increasingly aggressive toward their host societies. While there are genuine distinctions between moderate and radical Muslims, all evidence indicates that the expansion of powerful and surging anti-democratic and jihadist elements dominating every expatriate Muslim community, is rapidly transforming multicultural societies into warring factions.
To stem the exodus of millions of Muslims to Europe, there must be an intense effort to stabilize the Middle East and bring an end to the civil war in Syria and defeat ISIS. In this context, it should be noted that the barbarism that currently dominates the region could be attributed to U.S. President Barack Obama’s failed efforts to appease the Iranians and his bridge-building approach to rogue states at the expense of his allies. The turning point was the abrogation of his commitment to act against the Syrians after Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against his own people.
It is also scandalous that the Arab League and the 57-state Organization of the Islamic Conference turn to the non-Muslim international community to resolve issues created by Islamist extremism from their own ranks. The adamant refusal of the wealthy Arab oil countries to absorb even a minimal number of their own kinsman is despicable. Saudi Arabia even has 100,000 empty air-conditioned tents that could accommodate 3 million refugees. Incredibly, the Saudis seek to justify their exclusion on the grounds that such people will create disorder and represent security risks.
The Western world must overcome these challenges or these evil elements will destroy our freedom and way of life. As Jews, despite feeling compassion for the harrowing images of suffering endured by those seeking to find a better and more prosperous life in Western countries, we must not let ourselves be ruled by emotions or intimidated by accusations of Islamophobia. In the cruel world which we inhabit, we must not under any circumstances allow our compassion to be exploited and empower those who seek to destroy our democratic freedoms, which can ultimately lead to death and destruction.
We must rationally consider the long-term repercussions of our actions and instead of blindly endorsing these migratory upheavals, join calls for Christians and Yazidis, who unlike the Sunnis do face genocidal extermination by ISIS, to be accepted as refugees in Western countries. That is not, as Obama spuriously claims, being discriminatory. It is acting rationally to seek to implement a humanitarian policy designed to provide haven to threatened minorities.
Above all, we should avoid creating a situation that, in the absence of adequate vetting, will lay the foundations for jihadis to achieve their objectives by demographic means and devour the hand that feeds them.
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom