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U.S. Jewish orgs are liberal on illegal immigration here, but intolerant of illegals in Israel

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This is a brilliant post by Daniel Sieradski comparing American Jewish organizations’ tolerant attitudes toward illegal immigrants in our country and their intolerant attitudes toward the African immigrants in Israel.

Apparently, when it comes to the U.S., the Jewish community’s policy is amnesty, pathways to citizenship and family reunification – with some organizations even advising their members to break the law to aid refugees. But when it comes to Israel, the policy is, “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.”

This post shows what Zionism is doing to American Jewish political attitudes. Dragging us right. It calls on our worst instincts. Or as Robert Lowell said of 1967: “We had a great wave of New York Jewish nationalism, all the doves turning into hawks.”

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11 Responses

  1. Ranjit Suresh
    Ranjit Suresh on June 8, 2012, 12:34 pm

    Of course, this has been precisely the accusation of white nationalists like David Duke for decades, and frankly, whether you view it positively or not, they’re right. Jewish organizations were at the forefront of immigration reform and I can probably thank my existence to their lobbying for the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.

    I do think there’s something to the claim of white racists that the Jewish community advocated immigration not simply out of liberal sympathies but out of a view that a more diverse society was less likely to exhibit marked anti-Semitism. Well, it makes sense doesn’t it? The more whites there are proportionally in America, the more likely they are to notice the Jewish minority among them and distinguish them as the other, especially in those parts of the country where blacks are only a small minority. On the other hand, add an infusion of Hispanic and Asian immigrants, and the distinction between white gentile and Jew diminishes considerably. Note that this strategy, if indeed it is one, only works to the extent that whites and minorities do not identify with each other as much as white Christians do with Jews. And of course, this is indeed the case.

    • blg432
      blg432 on June 9, 2012, 8:18 am

      See below

      “The more diverse American society is the safer [Jews] are,” Glickman told the Forward.

  2. Citizen
    Citizen on June 8, 2012, 12:42 pm

    AKA, “Is it good for the Jews?” The 98% of Americans who are not Jewish? Chopped liver, for sure. This fits right in with the most recent article Phil wrote here re Beinhart, where it’s pointed out that AIPAC has its own US helicopter fleet.

  3. Krauss
    Krauss on June 8, 2012, 1:18 pm

    American Jewry isn’t as liberal on immigration as people think.
    Beinart’s on this:
    They’re a lot less enthusiastic about immigration. A slight plurality opposes “the U.S. government making it possible for illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens.” On immigration, in fact, American Jews are slightly to the American Jewish leadership’s right. I think Steven M. Cohen, who conducted the poll with Samuel Abrams, has noticed this waning Jewish support for immigration before. It’s intriguing, and depressing, given that many Jews still valorize their Ellis Island roots.

    A poll in 2010 of Arizona’s Jewry revealed that a majority of them(again a slight one, but still) supported the harsh immigration laws.

    I think what drives the national Jewish organizations is the same dynamic that drives them on the (almost) uncondintional support of Bibi; it’s another universe.

    Namely, both are of fear. I think many of these organizations supported it in the beginning simply out of fear. The more homogenious(and let’s face it, white and Christian) the country was, the more exposed Jews were as a minority. By allowing more and more immigrants, there was no longer a single soft target. Also, by turning sentment around “had something happened”, there would be a much better and much more fertile soil in the mass media for receiving refugees(remember FDR turning down those Jews in WWII, most of whom perished?)

    Over time, however, this became more of a practical matter. This change is now irreversible, so it makes sense to ally oneself with the newcomers and stress the similarities.

    But apparently most American Jewry doens’t feel like this. Blame assimilation, intermarriage or whatnot. Certainly blame economic upwards mobility.
    But we just don’t see ourselves in those illegal tresspassers coming from Mexico anymore. There aren’t large populations of Jews oppressed around the world anymore and haven’t been for decades.


  4. American
    American on June 8, 2012, 2:08 pm


    ‘A person who engages in the same behaviors he condemns others for.

    …a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.

    One who plays a part; especially, one who, for the purpose of winning approbation of favor, puts on a fair outside seeming; one who feigns to be other and better than he is; a false pretender to virtue or piety; one who simulates virtue or piety.

    Feigning to be what one is not, or to feel what one does not feel; a dissimulation, or a concealment of one’s real character, disposition, or motives; especially, the assuming of false appearance of virtue or religion; a simulation of goodness.’

    But hypocrites always claim something like…. ‘but it’s different in my case, our case, for me,us,’…
    Well , it isn’t really.
    The thing is most people are hypocrites at one time or on one thing or another BUT even then they can recognize that they are being hypocritical even though they might not admit it.
    I think the reason the hypocrisy doesn’t bother the Israel supporters is that they have completely bought into the idea that they are ‘exceptions”, not subject to most norms of the world and societies.

  5. Talkback
    Talkback on June 8, 2012, 2:36 pm

    Are there really two policies or just two different outcomes of the policy what’s ‘good for the Jews’? Advocating humane approaches in the diaspora to play nice under the domination of the goyim while rejecting them for Israel to maintain Jewish domination? Hypocrits or just opportunists?

  6. seafoid
    seafoid on June 8, 2012, 2:56 pm

    I wonder if the next generation of Jews will be able for the mental gymnastics- yes to Central Palestinians, no to West Bank Americans

    • American
      American on June 8, 2012, 3:46 pm

      “”I wonder if the next generation of Jews will be able for the mental gymnastics”

      I think generally Not. But there will always be a smaller hard core that zionism appeals to…just as we still have neo nazis and KKK types. People predisposed to fanatical ideology are always attracted to these movements.

  7. Sin Nombre
    Sin Nombre on June 8, 2012, 4:11 pm

    The hypocrisy is clear but what I think ought to be especially remembered on this issue—as with any number of others—is the intensely moral dimension that American jewish voices especially brought to the debate.

    If you didn’t like any more immigration here in the U.S. or wanted the law upheld at least to stop illegal immigration or whatever you weren’t just … wrong or mistaken in the eyes of so many of these jewish groups and individuals. You were instead a “nativist,” a “racist,” a degraded form of human being essentially … filth.

    I.e., the same sort of morally suffused invective used by the same sorts about racial matters, including affirmative action. Language used not to reason towards common understandings and to minimize contention but … to just utterly destroy the other person as one having any moral worth, and to create hatred and contempt.

    And of course simultaneously putting the people using that kind of language and imagery in the assumed position of being of incalculable moral fineness too.

    So how much damage did *this* level of discourse cost us and is still costing us on so many issues? Does anyone really believe that it did anything other than divide us more than necessary, triggered terrible reactionism, and essentially delayed the days when some common, reasonable and good understandings were or could be reached?

    But there, speaking of the same precise sort of self-appointed moral Paladin, goes Rabbi Yoffie, chief of U.S. Reform Jewry, traipsing off to Israel, somehow finding his candor only there, lightly tripping off his tongue about how he’d just rather live with jews, thank you very much.

    And my bet is that *if* there’s *anything* further said by him about the rioting in Israel against immigrants or the actual building of camps they’ve got going to stick them in, *if* we hear anything at all from the good Rabbi it will be in the most reasonable and moderate of tones, wanting above all not to create deep rifts or hatreds amongst his chosen people.

    No, I think there was with at least some participants in this kind of thing more than just the idea that immigration was good for the jews in terms of diluting the Diaspora pool where the swam: Instead with some it seems to me there was and still is a positive glee at the concept of dismounting European christians from their majority position, and doing as much damage to their traditions and values and etc. as possible. In short, a sort of perceived payback to the goyim whose America and Western Europe was seen as not having done enough for jewry.

    You can’t view this issue or indeed any other issue in isolation: You can’t view he attitudes of some jews towards same without also seeing those same individuals taking delight, for instance, at running down the Catholic church, or using concepts like goyishe kopfs and/or etc.

    • Rusty Pipes
      Rusty Pipes on June 9, 2012, 6:20 pm

      He sounds like a promising candidate for the new government position of Reform “leader” under the auspices of the ministry of culture and sport. What American Reform rabbi would find that environment hospitable or tolerant of his/her religious beliefs, practices and authority?

  8. blg432
    blg432 on June 9, 2012, 8:17 am

    Community Questioning ‘Open Door’

    Debate Raging On Immigration

    One year after the September 11 terrorist attacks, a fierce debate has broken out within some central bodies in the Jewish organizational world over the community’s traditional support for open immigration.

    In a sharp break with the past, advocates of reduced immigration have been invited in recent months to speak before the General Assembly of United Jewish Communities as well as to board members of the American Jewish Committee and at an American Jewish Congress event. All three institutions have historically been staunch advocates of open immigration.

    The shift in mood coincides with a shift in the general immigration debate, from one that centered on America’s capacity to absorb needy immigrants to one focused on fears that open borders pose a security threat to Americans.

    The shift also coincides with a radical decline in Jewish immigration following the fall of the Soviet Union a decade ago. Jewish immigration agencies such as the New York Association for New Americans have seen their refugee budgets halved in the past three years alone, while the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society has openly debated what role Jewish immigration agencies should play in an era without large numbers of Jewish immigrants.

    In a recent parry in that debate, HIAS opened a satellite office in Nairobi this fall. It is the agency’s first-ever overseas center for processing non-Jewish immigrants.

    Pro-immigration advocates say the debate does not represent shifting Jewish public opinion but merely reflects lobbying efforts by a few highly vocal opponents.

    “I have not yet seen it rise to the level of a concerted anti-immigration drive within the community as opposed to a small group outside the community that’s trying to convince the community,” said Gary Rubin, managing director of the Commission on the Jewish People of UJA-Federation of New York.

    But the Forward has found that support for reduced immigration is far more widespread in the Jewish institutional establishment than pro-immigration advocates allow.

    “It’s my impression that more people in the Jewish community are revisiting the traditional position on immigration quotas and limitations in light of the problems that we have become aware of since 9/11,” the AJCommittee’s Midwest regional director, Jonathan Levine, told the Forward in an interview.

    Voicing what he said were his personal views and not his organization’s, Levine continued: “We simply can’t allow in the numbers of immigrants we are letting in. Not because it’s good or bad to let them in, but because we don’t have the ability to effectively regulate the immigration process.”

    Levine’s own organization is “reviewing” its immigration policy for the first time since the 1970s, according to AJCommittee’s director of domestic policy, Jeffrey Sinensky.

    “We’re looking at national security issues that emerged post-9/11,” Sinensky said. “It’s important that in addition to due process concerns we want to make sure law enforcement has the tools it needs to track people in the United States. Looking at [our immigration policy] does not necessarily mean changing it.”

    Although no Jewish agency has formally switched sides, the professional head of one major national organization, who requested anonymity, told the Forward: “It seems that Jewish opinions are changing and trending toward more concern about security issues than in the past.”

    The AJCommittee’s 2001 Annual Survey of American Jewish Opinion showed a stark drop in support for maintaining current immigration numbers. In 2001, 49% of those polled wanted immigration numbers decreased, compared to 27% the year before.

    Among the advocates of immigration restrictions who have been seeking inroads in the Jewish community are Stephen Steinlight, editor of South Asia in Review and a onetime AJCommittee director of national affairs; Dan Stein, executive director of the Federation for American Immigration Reform in Washington, and Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.

    Krikorian was one of four speakers at a forum on immigration at the General Assembly last week in Philadelphia, the largest annual gathering of Jewish communal leaders. Barbara Rosenthal, a UJC lay leader who moderated the panel, said that inviting Krikorian was “just good programming” and not a sign of “any reversal of Jewish policy.” The forum, titled: “Immigration Policy and Terrorism: Is the Community at a Crossroads?” included three pro-immigration speakers, one of whom was the president and CEO of HIAS, Leonard Glickman.

    Krikorian and Steinlight were invited in June to an AJCongress panel discussion in Philadelphia. It was hosted by the executive director of AJCongress’s Pennsylvania Region, Joseph Puder, and its treasurer, Robert Guzzardi.

    The third panelist, Theodore Mann, a former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, represented the traditional Jewish view favoring open borders. But he stepped out of his liberal shoes at one point during the discussion and called for the State Department to apply stricter standards to people emigrating from countries that “encourage” or “permit” the teaching of hatred for the West in the press and in schools.

    Krikorian went further: “I would submit that whatever reforms or changes or tightening up we enact in our immigration policy need to be across the board and not targeted at Muslims, because ultimately that’s not going to work.”

    Puder, a former head of the far-right Americans for a Safe Israel, said the panelists’ opinions did not represent those of the AJCongress. He declined to offer his own views. But Guzzardi was more than happy to. “Immigration needs to be re-looked at and there need to be further restrictions, particularly on Muslim immigration,” he said. “If you asked me what our sense of our membership was, our membership was more open to some of Mark Krikorian’s ideas.”

    HIAS officials have maintained in recent years that the dwindling number of Jewish immigrants should not erode the Jewish commitment to immigration. While 80,000 of 120,000 refugees entering the United States in 1991 were Jewish, a decade later only 20,000 of 70,000 total refugees were Jews, according to Nyana officials. HIAS officials maintain that Jews should continue to support immigration of other groups. “The more diverse American society is the safer [Jews] are,” Glickman told the Forward.

    The HIAS Nairobi office is being funded by a $750,000 gift from an anonymous donor who specified that it be used to help African refugees, according to HIAS officials.

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