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Syrian Refugees Now, Jewish Refugees Then: Is There a Comparison? Pt 2. Roger Algase

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Update: November 23, 3:33 pm

On the full anti-democratic implications of Donald Trump's proposals to keep out Syrian refugees and throw out the Constitutional rights of Muslim-Americans, see:

Daily Kos
(11/20) Donald Trump Has Gone Full Nazi- And If The GOP Doesn't Repudiate It They Own It

(Link not available.)

Update: November 23, 10:30 am

The bigotry against Latino immigrants which not so long ago threatened to cause a government shutdown over President Obama's attempts to provide relief from deportation has now evidently morphed into bigotry against Muslim immigrants, resulting in a similar threat relating to funds for resettling Syrian refugees (even though the administration intends to limit such admissions to the tiny number of 10,000 over the next two years anyway).

See The Hill: Syria refugee fight emerges as government shutdown threat (11/23)

http://thehill.com/policy/finance/26...hutdown-threat

In view of the serious and destructive consequences that giving into the madness of anti-immigrant Islamophobia could lead to, including not only a government shutdown, but the eventual loss of our democracy through quasi-fascist measures such as Muslim registration, internment and closing of mosques, it is more important than ever to take a serious look at the many similarities between the hatred against Jews which barred so many Holocaust refugees from entering America in the 1930's and the wildly exaggerated reaction against Muslim victims of combined ISIS and Assad terror in Syria which is causing millions of them to flee to the West for safety and a decent life today.

My original post follows:

This is Part 2 of my comments dealing with parallels between the hostility toward Syrian refugees from Assad's Russian-backed terror and ISIS' brutal and inhuman religious fanaticism which Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and many other demagogic politicians are seeking to exploit today, and the anti-Semitic hatred which resulted in hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Jewish Holocaust victims being denied refuge in the US, only to die instead in Hitler's death camps.

Despite the statement of the United States Holocaust Museum pointing out the clear parallels between the resistance to allowing Jewish refugees into the US in the 1930's and the hostility to letting in Syrian refugees now, which was reproduced in full in my November 20 post, some people insist on remaining blind to these parallels, on the grounds that in the 1930's and 1940's there was no terror threat to America from Jewish refugees.

It may be true that Jewish terrorist activities, including blowing up part of the King David hotel in Jerusalem which killed almost 100 people in 1946 and massacring 100 Arab civilians in the village of Deir Yassin (in 1948), were carried out in what was previously Palestine and subsequently Israel, not America or Europe - by a group whose leader, Menachem Begin, later received the Nobel Peace Prize.

(Not too many years later, in 1958 or 1959, while I was a Harvard College undergraduate, I personally heard Begin, who at the time was not yet prime minister, but was considered be an extremist fringe member of Israel's parliament with no real political future because of his anti-Arab views, boast about his terrorist past in a speech that he gave at a synagogue in the Boston area.)

But the fact that there was no terrorist threat to America from Palestinian Jewish extremist groups such as the Irgun Zvai Leumi or the Stern Gang did not mean that the American public, and many of our politicians in both parties were not worried about possible terrorism or subversion by Jewish refugees from Hitler.

Even though there was no real Jewish terror threat to this country, the bigots, haters and anti-Semites in America invented one, just as so many presidential candidates, Congressional Representatives and State governors are either inventing or wildly exaggerating the threat from from the millions of Syrian (and Iraqi) Muslims who are fleeing for their lives from terror today, not supporting it.

One of the most comprehensive articles published in the past few days dealing with the imaginary, but still widely believed, security threat allegedly posed by Jewish refugees in the 1930's and 1940's is a two-part November 22 POLITICO article by Josh Zeitz called:

Yes, It's Fair to Compare the Plight of the Syrians to the Plight of the Jews. Here's Why.

http://www.politico.com/magazine/sto...-war-ii-213384

Zeitz writes:

"Contrary to what conservatives are saying these days, language commonly invoked in opposition to admitting Syrian refugees bears striking similarity to arguments against providing safe harbor to Jewish refugees in the late 1930's. Then as now, skepticism of religious and ethnic minorities and concerns that refugees might pose a threat to national security deeply influenced the debate over American immigration policy. For conservatives, this likeness is an inconvenient truth."

Zeitz continues by referring to a 1938 Fortune Magazine poll in according to which over two-thirds of the respondents opposed allowing "German, Austrian and other political refugees" to come to the United States.

Zeitz writes:

"Although the 1938 Fortune poll did not specifically mention Jews, most Americans at the time likely understood that roughly 70 per cent of Austrian and German refugees were in fact Jewish. Months later, when Sen.Robert Wagner (D-New York) and Edith Nourse Rogers (R-Massachusetts) introduced legislation that would lift immigration caps to admit 10,000 refugee children to the United States, the Nation acknowledged a "sotto voce" understanding that "this is a Jewish bill."

Zeitz continues:

"In a telling augury of Gov. Chris Christie's pitiless remark that even 5-year old Syrian orphans should be barred from entering American shores, a Gallup poll in January 1940 found that 66 per cent of respondents opposed the Wagner-Rogers bill. In May, 1940, when the Cincinnati Post polled 1000 local women - most of them housewives and mothers - a whopping 77 per cent rejected the plan to settle refugee children in the United States."

Zeitz also refutes today's right-wing argument that popular anti-Semitism in the 1930's and 1940's was not primarily based on security concerns, and therefore differed from today's opposition to admitting Syrian refugees to the US:

"In February 1942, just two months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, a national poll asked Americans to identify the national, ethnic or religious groups that are a 'menace [threat] to this country'. Unsurprisingly, 24 per cent identified Japanese-Americans and 18 per cent volunteered German-Americans. Jews ranked third, at 15 percent. Three years later, in 1945, the same question yielded more arresting results: 24 per cent identified Jews as the most menacing ethnic group in America, ahead of the Japanese (9 per cent) and Germans (6 per cent)."

Zeitz also quotes Gerald L.K. Smith, one of the most vicious (and popular) of all American anti-Semites in the 1940's as warning of:

"200,000 Communist Jews at the Mexican border waiting to get into this country. If they are admitted, they will rape every woman and child that is left unprotected."

Does this remind anyone of any of today's presidential candidates?

While Gerald L. K. Smith was admittedly never considered mainstream, Zeitz also writes that there was a much more common feeling among Americans in the 1930's and 1940's that the Jews has pushed the US into the European war and that they had an undue amount of influence over America's motion pictures, press, radio and government.

Jews were also considered to be security risks as both Communists and potential Nazi saboteurs (at the same time)!

Zeitz concludes:

"In short, most of the elements that conservatives...cite as differentiating factors between now and then - fear of refugee violence, fear of their inability or desire to assimilate, concern over their economic dependence, suspicion of their ideological alienation and radicalism - were in fact central to the debate over admitting Jewish refugees in the 1930's."


To be continued in Part 3.
___________________________
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. For more than 30 years, he has been helping mainly skilled and professional immigrants obtain work visas and green cards. Roger believes that immigration law is not merely involved with technical rules, important as these are, but also is a matter of ensuring fundamental fairness, equal protection under the law and basic human rights for all immigrants, whatever their category or status.

Roger's email address is algaselex@gmail.com

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Updated 11-24-2015 at 01:27 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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Comments

  1. Unregistered222's Avatar
    That is very interesting Roger. I would agree there are some interesting parallels.

    I still wonder however, was there a parallel in existing Syrian community not even wanting to have these "refugees" here, because they will come with the civil war blood on their hands? I know that this sentiment exists in settled down Syrian communities for a fact.

    Was anything like that rift present with established Jewish community and newcomer Jewish immigrants?
  2. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    The answer to your question is that there were in fact Jewish leaders in the US who were worried about letting in too many Jewish Holocaust refugees because they were afraid that this would make American Jews even more unpopular than they already were. I will discuss this in more detail in Part 3 of my comments on this issue.

    But from the 1930's into the 1950's, there was a widespread fear that Jews could be communist sympathizers (as indeed some of them in fact were), and therefore might be Soviet agents.

    During the Stalin and cold war eras, the idea that someone could be a Soviet agent was at least as serious a charge as being an ISIS sympathizer today, if not many times more so, given the enormous power of the Soviet Union at that time.

    By the way, who are the Syrian-American community leaders who are allegedly so concerned about the dangers of letting in refugees from their own country into the United States today? Can you name any names? It would be interesting to know who these people are.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 11-23-2015 at 07:31 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
  3. Retired INS's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by ImmigrationLawBlogs
    The answer to your question is that there were in fact Jewish leaders in the US who were worried about letting in too many Jewish Holocaust refugees because they were afraid that this would make American Jews even more unpopular than they already were. I will discuss this in more detail in Part 3 of my comments on this issue.

    But from the 1930's into the 1950's, there was a widespread fear that Jews could be communist sympathizers (as indeed some of them in fact were), and therefore might be Soviet agents.

    During the Stalin and cold war eras, the idea that someone could be a Soviet agent was at least as serious a charge as being an ISIS sympathizer today, if not many times more so, given the enormous power of the Soviet Union at that time.

    By the way, who are the Syrian-American community leaders who are allegedly so concerned about the dangers of letting in refugees from their own country into the United States today? Can you name any names? It would be interesting to know who these people are.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law

    You are correct about American Jews being reluctant to take in more Jews in the 1930s, but the real problem was the U.S. State Department. The INS came under the Department of Labor, which was headed by one of the best cabinet members in U.S. HISTORY, Francis Perkins. The Border Patrol loved her and referred to her as "Ma Perkins'. Besides being the driving force behind Social Security and workers' compensation, Francis Perkins wanted to use unused immigrant visas for Germany on Jewish refugees. Under the National Origins law, Germany was allotted about 35,000 immigrant visas each year. The State Department refused, saying that since the NAZIs took away their jobs and homes, these Jewish refugees were likely to become a public charge (despite their good education and job skills). Francis Perkins tried to bring in Jewish children, but met opposition from Protestant ministers, and very little support from the Jewish community (for the reasons you stated). Part of the reason the INS was transferred to the Department of Justice in 1940 was to take it away from Francis Perkins.
  4. buffet-caterers's Avatar
    Definately correct about American Jews being reluctant to take in more Jews in the 1930s, but a little harsh to lay most blame onto the U.S. State Department. I think by the State Department refusing and stressing their fears that since the NAZIs took away their jobs and homes, these Jewish refugees were likely to become a public charge, they were merely restating those deeply held fears the public had at the time... in way, leadership was reflecting the public mood...
    http://www.benonscatering.co.uk/top/marquee-hire-manchester
  5. Jonahdialno's Avatar
    Syrian and Jews refugees for comparison. The study is conducted for the future and for all comparative of the both refugees. Visits and approach of essay services are completely done and studied. The refugee is difficult state to live.
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