I am not a rabbi, but I know that throughout Jewish history, many of our holidays can be summed up as, “They tried to kill us, but we survived. Let’s eat.” As history continues to repeat itself, “they” still want to kill us, and by allowing undocumented immigrants from any country into the United States, we are inviting danger for dinner.
Recently, almost 2,000 American rabbis wrote a letter to President Donald Trump and congressional officials to “ensure that our refugee program be maintained and strengthened, not halted, paused or restricted.” Although Jews are known for tikkun olam, repairing the world, this request does not use our Jewish noodle — only our bleeding heart. If Trump and Congress admit unidentified immigrants, they will be derelict in their most important duty: to keep America safe.
The April edition of Fortune magazine published a poll concluding that 83 percent of Americans do not want to loosen immigration laws. But the rabbis’ letter to the president emphasizes that we cannot “ignore those seeking deliverance.” There are many ways to assist refugees that will not endanger our population: food donations, clothing drives, and funding safe zones and security outside of Syria, just to name a few. The most logical solution to help the Syrian refugees, for instance, is to assist their safe immigration to a place where they will be familiar with the language, culture and laws in nearby Muslim countries.
Of the dozens of Muslim-majority countries in the world, almost none have stepped up to the plate to assist their coreligionists. It is the European countries who open their borders for the floods of refugees — into Germany, Britain, France and others, causing a dramatic rise in crime, cultural and social problems. Countries such as Poland and Hungary are criticized for monitoring their borders. Ten years from now, there will be a dramatic difference between countries who make the decision to secure their population and those liberal countries waving a sign that effective says, “Come one, come all.”
During a trip to Germany, I sat on a train in Munich wondering what locals think about this issue. It is controversial. Much like the rabbis, one passenger said that European countries must assist refugees even if they bring their own values and don’t follow the laws of Germany. I learned from a Turkish man that for him, it is not about the refugees; he worries that the country is leaning politically to the right in response to the influx of foreigners. Another said that he is not in favor of accepting refugees because they have more rights in Germany than the average European citizen. A Polish resident stated that refugees now cannot cross the border into Poland, and that those who do live in Poland are leaving for jobs in Germany.
“We must be engaged, passionate and energized about what matters to us,” the American rabbis wrote. I wholeheartedly agree. What matters to me above all else is the safety of my children. While German Chancellor Angela Merkel sought to assist almost a million refugees in Germany, at least three Islamist terrorist attacks were traced directly to these asylum-seekers. Similarly, according to news reports, peaceful Sweden has become a terrorist haven for radical Islamists who attack locals and do not assimilate. The American public must learn from the mistakes of our European allies and not repeat them.
Attempting to create moral equivalency between refugees who include among their midst Islamists who wish perpetrate terror, and Jewish refugees fleeing for their lives during the Holocaust is repugnant. While there are refugees who are not radicalized, until we are sure that Americans’ safety is not compromised, we are not at liberty to make the judgement.
Some Americans appear willing to risk their lives for unknown refugees, but I prefer to protect my children. Call me a bigot, racist or an Islamophobe for choosing my children’s safety over the unknown stranger, but I’d rather not be among the American parents who have lost children to terrorism.
“Never again” means opening our eyes and protecting ourselves from harm. Radical Islamism is a reality. Where is the outcry from American Jews to “deliver” the French Jews currently fleeing religious persecution? Let us not forget the English, Danish and German Jews who are suffering attacks. Recently, Coptic Christians were murdered in Egypt. Where is the outcry?
Supporting a policy of open borders is a dangerous and grave mistake. Freedom is not free. Shame on us if we allow those who want to destroy us and our way of life the proximity to do so.
Valerie Leiser Greenfeld is a Denver native now living in Washington. She is the author of “Backyard Caliphate: Radicalization in Our Neighborhood,” which is being released in June.