You know there has to be anxiety in the Jewish community about whether Jews should, without reservation, promote the resettlement of Muslims from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan in the ME or Somali Muslims from Africa.
Here at the The Jewish Chronicle we see at least the beginning of some honesty about the friction.
Longtime readers know that we have extensively chronicled the activities of the only Jewish federal resettlement contractor HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) on these pages. When you read about local Jewish resettlement groups know that most are subcontractors of HIAS (see their subcontractors here).
Here is the story:
By and large, Pittsburgh’s Jewish community — in line with the American Jewish community in general — has rallied behind efforts to bring Syrian refugees to the United States. Formal statements in support of immigration have been issued by area institutions, winter coats for newly arrived families have been collected, and outraged discourse on social media protesting the Trump administration’s attempts to thwart immigration from Syria and other Muslim-majority nations is common.
But despite the outcry from so many in Jewish Pittsburgh that it is imperative to “welcome the stranger,” others argue that Jewish funds and resources should not be going to help bring Syrians here.
“How can Jews be so smart and yet so stupid at the same time?” said Lou Weiss of Squirrel Hill. “Everyone loves the immigration of people to our country to become Americans. But who’s in favor of bringing in immigrants from a country where they hate gays, where women are subjected to female circumcision and honor killings, and they hate Jews?”
While Weiss may hold the minority opinion on this issue, he certainly is not alone.
“From our perspective, 99 percent of the responses we’ve gotten have been positive,” said Jordan Golin, president and CEO of the Jewish Family & Children’s Service, which so far has resettled 51 Syrian families in Pittsburgh and is scheduled to bring in additional families. “We are aware, though, that there are other members of the Jewish community that have different feelings about this issue.”
You have to go to the end of a longish story to hear more from Weiss:
But for Weiss, the issue of whether Jews should be supporting the effort to bring Syrians to this country is pretty cut and dried.
“Take a look at what’s going on in Europe; that’s what will happen here,” Weiss said, noting the mass migration of Jews from European countries who feel threatened by Islamic immigrants there. “Jewish people are people of immigration. But we have to see who it is we’re welcoming into the United Sates. Syrians are taught Holocaust denial. They are taught that Jews are the sons of apes and pigs. There are blood libel books written by their leaders. Only the Jews would pay to bring them to this country.
“You have to think about this rationally,” he continued. “Who are the immigrants? They hate gays, and they subject women to horrible second-class treatment — not every single person, but as a group. And if you bring them here, ultimately, they will vote. If you think they’ll vote to support Israeli interests, you’re sadly mistaken.”
While Weiss is not one of the individuals who has complained to the Federation or to JF&CS, he nonetheless feels strongly about the issue.