5 thoughts on “Israel isn’t ‘too small’ to accept Syrian, African refugees – Opinion

  1. Barbara Grancell-Frank

    I was living in Jerusalem when 100 Vietnamese families (affectionately dubbed the Boat People) were granted asylum in the Jewish homeland. These refugees were embraced by everyone and assimilated quickly. Within a year there were Vietnamese restaurants in three of Israel’s four major cities.
    Times have changed. Today Israel sits in the middle of a religious civil war between Sunnis and Shiites, a war that simmered for centuries and that has boiled over onto the region’s front burners. With the rise of ISIS, the disastrous Iran deal and the ongoing Syrian civil war (ratcheting up several notches now that Vladimir Putin is supplying President Assad with weapons and advisers, just as he did in the Crimea), the terrible consequences of this age-old conflict have already begun to spill onto Europe’s shores. President Obama’s failed foreign policy in the Middle East is directly responsible for all of the above, particularly the refugee problem.
    For Israel to consider, even for a nano-second, the notion of adding thousands of Syrian Muslims to its own Arab population (as well as to the numerous hostile Palestinians in Judea and Samaria), with no viable means of ascertaining who among them are radicalized, is nothing short of suicidal for the security of the Jewish state. The United States, with its vast amounts of land and far larger economy, is making no such commitment to the Syrian refugees for that very reason.
    I am frankly stunned and disheartened by the fact that so many “liberal” American Jews (living in comparative safety more than 6000 miles from Israel’s borders) appear to be perfectly willing to bring radical jihad ever closer to Israel’s Jews.

    1. Rabbi David Levin Post author

      Israel has done some wonderful work in humanitarian aid all over the world. Israel has provided aid in earthquakes, tsunamis, avalanches, and war. There is a field hospital on the Syrian border that has treated over 1,000. She is founded on the Jewish Right to Return, an acknowledgement of how harsh the world can be.

      No one is proposing opening the borders and letting thousands of un-vetted people stream across unchecked. However, bringing in a few well screened non-threatening people is the decent thing to do and shows the world that Israel is a place of great humanity. This is particularly true when we are dealing with Syrian victims while so many other neighboring countries are unresponsive.

  2. Barbara Grancell-Frank

    Israel has proven time and again that it possesses a strong, moral compass. Israel’s true friends know this. Its enemies will never be influenced by additional acts of decency. Nor should Israel be required to do “the decent thing” when, by your own account, it has (a) already helped many Syrians and (b) such action may well be dangerous for Israel’s already imperiled Jewish population. Perhaps it is time for the Saudis or the Emirates to dispense a little compassion to their less fortunate Muslim brothers and sisters — as they did for the Palestinians, in which case, God help the Syrian refugees. One more thing. Just how do you propose to vet these refugees? What screening mechanism would you employ to determine who is “non-threatening” when there is no way to research past membership in organizations like Hezbollah or Al Qaida? With respect, proffering such advice is easy. Implementing it — not so much.

    1. Rabbi David Levin Post author

      Israel’s moral compass should continue to lead it to be a champion of human values and decency. It is compelled to act as a “light to the nations.” In other words, to be a Jewish homeland is to embrace Jewish Values.
      I understand your fear for Israel’s safety. But it has the finest security and intelligence capabilities in the world, from the Mossad to the people at the airport. I am fully confident that the Israelis can vet refugees.

      And another place where we agree, implementing is not easy. No one realistically would claim otherwise. But I find President Kennedy’s words stirring,
      “We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard… because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills.” We do it because we are Jews and that is what Jews do to live the values we cherish.

      1. Barbara Grancell-Frank

        Your confidence in Mossad and mine in the IDF’s other elite combat units is fully warranted. Israel has mobilized the best, the most honorable fighting force in the world. But, David, even Israel’s formidable citizen army has its limits. How many times must the enemies of Zion test those limits, while the rest of the world waits for Israel’s Jews to fail for the first — and last — time?
        John Kennedy’s words are inspiring, but there is “hard” and there is “damn near impossible.” Still, in the past those feisty Zionist warriors have been known to pull miracles, like magicians’ rabbits, out of their helmets. I hope they will do so yet again.
        Finally, I am troubled by the use of the pronoun “we” in the sentence that summarized your comments above. “We” (you and I, Rabbi) are not living in the shadow of an Iranian nuclear facility, manned by fanatical mullahs. On the other hand, thanks to Obama’s deal, in a few years “we” may well find ourselves in the shadow of an Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile.

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