This weekend has been filled with noise. Noise about a wide variety of issues. I’ve needed to take all that noise and all that information overload, and filter it, so that I can make sense out of it. It has not been an easy task.
On Friday, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the White House put out a statement that never mentioned the six million Jews who perished under a systemic genocidal government regime. On the same day, an executive order was signed banning immigrants and refugees from 7 Muslim majority countries from entering the U.S., “the land of the free and the home of the brave”.
What do we do with this? Late that night and into the next day protests took place around the nation in airports and in front of courthouses. In the late hours of January 28, a federal judge in Brooklyn, stayed the order and allowed those individuals with green cards and vetted credentials to come into our country. However, numerous individuals were sent back before the decision was determined. It’s a time to remember. It’s a time to question. It’s a time to stand up.
All I can think of is the thousands of Jewish refugees who were turned away from US shores in the 1930’s and 1940’s. All I can think of is the fact that my in-laws were stuck in Displaced Persons Camps for years in Germany, awaiting the privilege to come to America. No country would take them. They had no home country. There was no Israel and they needed a place to call home. America made them wait.
I had a passionate interaction with a woman today about whether it’s the right thing to ban Muslims from entering our country. She was adamant that they (all of them) were a proven threat and that we, as Jews should know they (the Muslims) would never stand up for us, so why should we stand up for them. I just couldn’t convince her that we need to remember what happened to us before and during World War II because the environment in which we are living today is eerily similar.
We cannot let our fears override our values. We cannot let our fears be our moral compass. Of course we need to be vigilant, but we shouldn’t be blind. Even during the Holocaust there were righteous gentiles who risked their lives and saved Jews. My in-laws were both saved by righteous gentiles. They were hidden in two different countries, by people who would have been killed had they be turned in for hiding Jews. But they did what was right.
We need to take a deep breath and pause. Pause to reset our direction. Pause to remember that our nation, is a nation of immigrants. Our nation’s paradigm is supposed to be one of welcome and refuge.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.”
These words of Emma Lazarus, welcomed thousands of new immigrants to our nation. These words are carved into our Statue of Liberty. We, as a nation, need to remember what we represent to the free world. We must use our words, our voices, and our system, to make this right. We are Jews and we’ve been through this ourselves too many times throughout history. We are, by default, the conscience of the world. Let’s filter the noise and promote the welfare of others.