The Migrant Caravan is Exposing anti-Semitism

Over the past few days, hundreds of migrants from throughout Central America have reached the U.S. southern border with Mexico. While some have peacefully approached the border at entrance points to apply for asylum, many have rushed towards the border trying to destroy fences and illegally enter the country. This has resulted in US border patrol using tear gas against them after some had begun throwing rocks and stones at border patrol officers. Many US citizens and politicians (you can guess which side of the aisle they are on) have condemned the administration for the use of tear gas (they probably do not realize it was used at border in 2013 under the previous administration).

While many Americans might have thought this was a sight unseen and some new phenomena, others were quick to make a comparison; this scene is very similar to the Israeli border with Gaza. There are two approaches used to compare these situations. The first one is there are potentially dangerous people rushing the border to enter illegally, and they are attacking those guarding the border. This is forcing the border patrol to use non-lethal defense mechanisms against them. The other approach is that poor defenseless people, including many women and children that have nowhere to go, were attacked by an aggressive regime while they were just trying to get into the country for a better life.

Regardless of which comparison one uses, neither of them is appropriate. Israel, which has enough issues to deal with, should not be a part of this debate. Without getting into the politics of the US-Mexico border and the US immigration system, I want to reflect on the comparisons. A couple of days ago, Jewish Voice for Peace posted on their Facebook page a tweet with side by side photos of Mexico and Gaza saying, “I bet the tear gas cannisters come from the same place.” Irrespective of one’s opinion on the US border situation, this should be appalling to see and shows how ignorant and openly anti-Semitic people who use this comparison are. Most of the people who rush the Israeli border with Gaza are terrorists who want to come into Israel to murder innocent Jews. I’m so glad Jewish Voice for Peace and other ‘Pro-Palestinian’ individuals and organizations are concerned for the well-being of the Jewish people. 

Another comparison being used with the migrant caravan situation at the border is anti-Semitic in a completely different way. Newly elected to the Congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, “Asking to be considered a refugee & applying for status isn’t a crime. It wasn’t for Jewish families fleeing Germany…” She may not have done so purposely, but this comparison is anti-Semitic. As bad as the current situation may seem to some, it is not even a drop in the bucket compared to what the Jews experienced in the Holocaust, and I will happily elaborate. It is true that most people in the migrant caravan are fleeing violent and poor countries. However, that is a far cry from the countries the Jews tried to escape from during the Holocaust. There was a genocide against the Jews, which is not the same as having to live around gang violence or in poor living conditions. Another flaw in this comparison is that there are confirmed criminals in the caravan.

The Jews who fled the Holocaust would have been happy to end up in any country where they would not be persecuted. Almost all the members of the migrant caravan have had opportunities to settle at various locations, mostly in Mexico, before they made it to the US border. However, their goal was not solely to escape their former country, but rather to go to the US specifically. The biggest difference of all, is the attitude of the people themselves. Any person who wants to claim asylum have the opportunity at various places across the US-Mexico border. Sadly, many of them were not interested and rushed the border to try to enter the country illegally. Some threw rocks and some carried flags of the countries they were fleeing. Now it may be a stretch (it’s not a stretch), but I find it hard to believe that any Jew attempting to escape the Holocaust would have ever been seen carrying the flag of the country they were fleeing from. During the Holocaust, how many Jews tried to enter the US carrying the flag of Germany? Probably not even one, because usually when you are fleeing a country, you don’t continue to actively support it.

In contrast with the caravan, how many Jews resorted to violent tactics to enter other countries during the Holocaust? As you can see (or read), the comparison is horrible, and to think the use of tear gas in self-defense is analogous to the gas used in death camps is unthinkable. As I have written about before, we need to stop the Holocaust comparisons to current events. It does not add anything and does no good.

With Airbnb’s discriminatory policy and new surveys coming from Europe showing how ignorant and openly anti-Semitic many are, Jews have enough to worry about without current events being compared to their historic persecution. Regardless of one’s opinion on the migrant caravan and US immigration policy, everyone needs to agree that it is not comparable to the Holocaust or relevant to Israel.

About the Author
Zander Wold is a Jew from Los Angeles currently living in Haifa.