Dr. Michael Welner has spoken out against the complicit calumny of American Rabbis and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, one the voluntary agencies that stands to gain from the influx of Syrian Refugees, who compare the their plight with those Jews who survived the horrors of the Nazi Holocaust or Shoah.
His Algemeiner article, We Cannot Allow Comparisons of Mideast Refugees to Holocaust Survivors is a veritable Jeremiad from this renowned Forensic Psychiatrist, Founder of the Manhattan – based The Forensic Panel, expert witness at many high profile cases of mass shootings and developer of an evidence based standard for measuring depravity and evil. He is also the son of Holocaust survivors. We have written about his remarkable mother Barbara who has a deep, abiding reality based assessment of the heinous barbaric treatment of Jews from her own experience during the Shoah and those evident in the extremism of radical Islam.
See our April 2015 Iconoclast post, “On the Eve of Yom Ha Shoah a Courageous Survivor Speaks of the Islamist Threat Facing Israel and Jews”. Dr. Welner makes several valid points about why the comparison of the Jewish Holocaust survivors’ experiences versus those of the Syrian and other Muslim refugees is at best myopic. Among these are:
- Jewish refugees were not warring with anyone, and were no threat to anyone. Refugees attributed to Syria are fleeing a war within their own land in which they are on one side or another.
- Jewish refugees were hunted down to be killed wherever they were. This is not happening to all (or most) Muslims of Syria and neighboring countries who seek emigration.
- Jewish refugees were literally fleeing for their lives with nowhere in their countries to go. Syrian refugees are fleeing a country with degraded infrastructure for a safer and more normal existence. They also have the option of traveling to neighboring Arab countries — something Jews of the Holocaust did not have.
- Jewish refugees had no conflict or grievance with the West. The Arab world is in the midst of an open conflict with the West. The United States has been sponsoring some of the fighters operating in Syria. There is no way of knowing whether refugees have allegiance to one faction or another.
- Jewish refugees were not accompanied by any terrorist problem in America. Islamist terrorism has already expressed itself through those who have immigrated here legally and illegally.
- Jewish refugee traffic was never exploited to embed people who were simply taking advantage of chaos to slip across borders with criminal or terrorist motivation. That has already been demonstratively the case with the Syrian-Turkish Muslim migration.
- Jewish refugees had no Jewish homeland to go to. They were stateless people who were unsafe everywhere. The “Syrian” refugee problem overlooks that there are areas all over the Muslim world which could accommodate them culturally, but many of those countries have refused them.
Welner takes particular scorn of a HIAS letter signed by 139 Rabbis endeavoring to comparison the plight of the 900 Jewish souls on board the SS St. Louis who were denied sanctuary by anti-Semitic elements in the FDR State Department in the late 1930’s, only to have one third ultimately perish in Nazi concentration and death camps during the Shoah. He writes:
This letter overlooks is that the very source of the current American controversy is that, by admission of even trusted intelligence persons in the Obama administration, the United States indeed cannot tell the difference between the enemy and the victims of the enemy. That is the source of our current national security problem. To compare this real dilemma to a climate of 1939 that was nothing more than just visceral hatred for Jews for nothing more than their religion is obscene. That many rabbis are willing to abet such misunderstanding demonstrates, once again, a deep failure of those rabbis to take responsibility for teaching and protecting the fidelity of Jewish history. The horrors of the Holocaust remain unthinkable, even as memories fade with the dying off of elderly survivors. So why is it that rabbis, so designated as leaders of Jewish thought, could display such derelict idiocy in making comparisons of Holocaust refugees to migrants from the Arab world?
He cites the twisting pathology of Taken Olam that is behind Jewish compassion towards Muslim refugees that defiles the memories of Shoah survivors:
In my professional opinion, these behaviors actually reflect on the sickening pathology among Jews of even the most highly educated pedigrees to feel the need, even by resorting to the grotesque, to display their non-denominational compassion. Tikkun Olam, to many, reflects upon the Jewish imperative to help the world beyond those who are Jewish. Others interpret that phrase differently. But it cannot be disputed by anyone that Jewish non-discriminatory philanthropy and with no strings attached is unmatched among religions. We need not prove that we are kind. And for those who feel that Jews need to do a better job of demonstrating this to the Muslim world, consider how much Jewish charity has been offered to Iran and Turkey after natural disasters, only to be refused in order to preserve narratives that demonize Jews. Jews are pilloried not for lack of charity, but because Muslim Arab intolerance is extreme, implacable, and emanates from countries that control their media and can control their peoples by creating fictions of Jewish bogeymen. The purveyors and consumers of said fictions couldn’t care less about the bill boarding of Jewish advocacy for Muslims.
How is it then, that the signatory rabbis degrade the special history of their own people? Because flaunting public perception of their sensitivity to others enables them to make personal political statements, massage their vanities for being part of letters published in full page ads, and announce their own bona fides. But while those public personas are their own, no rabbi owns Jewish history such that they have the right to reinvent it.
It would be far more responsible for such rabbis and other prominent Jews to feed their self-interests without resorting to defiling the Holocaust by diluting it or by distorting any of its searing lessons. How pathetic it is that in this day and age, we truly have many Christians who have a greater sensitivity for the legacy of baseless hatred towards Jews than certain rabbis themselves. President Obama can hardly be blamed for insulting the legacy of the Holocaust when so many rabbis utterly fail to respect their own Shoah.
If Holocaust denial bothers you, this crass misuse is not something to overlook without strong response. Like the BDS movement, silence only enables greater latitude. Assertions by Jews that dilute and therefore desecrate the Holocaust must stop. Holocaust trivializing should be limited to Iran and the other visceral haters, rather than daily parlance of the educated in America. The teaching of accurate Jewish history must remain, across all denominations, a litmus test for suitability to minister to others as would be expected from any religion.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of U.S. troops with giving water to a Holocaust survivor.