It’s great being a liberal. You don’t have to give much thought to your positions or the repercussions. Just come up with a catchy phrase that makes you feel good all over. Need to deal with a serious problem? Create another one to solve it. Don’t like the burden of respecting the life of the unborn? Just say you’re pro-choice and let the baby be killed at full-term. But you don’t like the state taking the life of a murderer? Just say, “Thou Shalt Not Kill” means the state. Don’t like women being harassed at work? Just come up with #MeToo, and poof! The accused is done away with, with no due process. Feel that the poor criminals are being discriminated against by not being able to post bail? Just do way with bail altogether. Too bad on the rest of society. Feel bad for illegal immigrants being incarcerated for violating the law? Call them “undocumented” and now they get better treatment than you or I do.
Facing opposition to your positions? No problem. Just call them racists, sexists, homophobes, misogynists, fascists, supremacists, xenophobes, etc. The list is endless.
Last week, a young couple looking to relocate outside of New York told me that they looked into a certain neighborhood about two hours away from here, but the Jewish community was too modern for their liking. In that town, the local Conservative temple hung a big banner that read, “We Are All refugees.” How touching! Nice to let everybody know that we stand behind all refugees who come to these shores and welcome them. After all, do we not as Jews know what being a refugee is all about? And didn’t we just read in the last Torah portion (Sh’mos 23:9), “Do not oppress a stranger”?
Sounds right. The problem is that the Torah, which makes numerous such statements about the stranger, is not addressing people seeking illegal refuge. The Torah is addressing those who wish to peacefully join and contribute to our nation. In fact, when both Moshe Rabbeinu and Yehoshua discovered that refugees were infiltrating our people under a subterfuge, they were immediately rejected (see Rashi, D’varim 29:10).
Almost every major Jewish secular – and one Orthodox – organization has stood in solidarity with Middle Eastern refugees. After all, didn’t our parents and grandparents arrive here from Europe as refugees? Shouldn’t we feel guilty if we do not sympathize with today’s refugees?
There is one major difference. Our parents came here as innocents to escape oppression in their respective countries. We were not combatants, we were not caught in two sides of a civil war between two awful factions. We came here to seek freedom and contribute to society. We harbored no ill will toward anyone already here. We respected everyone else’s religion.
The refugees of today want us to become refugees, as well. Many of them want us out. They want us out of the universities, to elect anti-Semitic representatives (themselves refugees) to Congress, to erase US support of Israel and call for boycotts of the Jewish state (while otherwise abhorring collective punishment). Who makes this all possible? The very Jews who support them!
I have spoken to many young students in some of our local colleges. They told me that life as a Jewish student has become a living nightmare for them. They are hounded by refugee students and sympathetic faculty for being Jewish and supporting a Jewish state. They say they lie low and just look forward to graduating and moving on. Please don’t expect the likes of Senator Schumer or Congressman Nadler to stick up for their brethren. It will not happen. They are too busy hating our president who indeed made it illegal to preach anti-Semitism on campus. Bernie Sanders? His best friends are anti-Semitic refugees!
To underscore it all, I am sure you saw the clip of former Assemblyman Dov Hikind being escorted out of the hall in Rutgers University where “Squad” member Rashida Tlaib was speaking. Ms. Tlaib had earlier retweeted a post from renowned Palestinian anti-Semite Hanan Ashrawi who accused Jewish Settlers in Israel of killing a young Palestinian boy by throwing him into a well. Too bad the accusation was totally false, of course. But facts cannot get in the way.
When Dov called upon Tlaib to recant her “blood libel,” she remained silent. But Dov was rushed out by security to an audience cheering “Rashid! Rashid!”
So all those in the Jewish community who poured their hearts out for these refugees: It’s payback time! “Those who repay evil for good harass me for my pursuit of good (T’hilim 38:20).”
I would like to scream, “Wake up!” but I’m afraid the patient is comatose. It will continue again and again. Because embracing these self-destructive notions makes the hapless patient feel good, for now. Too bad on us.
Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld is the Rabbi of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, Vice President of the Coalition for Jewish Values, former President of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens, and the Rabbinic Consultant for the Queens Jewish Link.