Trump Is Right: Ban Antisemitic Immigrants From the United States
As the US presidential race progresses, I have been focused on issues related to antisemitism and anti-Israelism, irrespective of who has raised them.
As someone watching the election from outside the US, one issue, in particular, stands out for me.
Donald Trump has suggested that immigrants should be tested for their beliefs, and that antisemitic immigrants should be barred from entering the US. Trump also suggested that immigrants be questioned and their social media accounts examined for evidence of their commitment to gay rights, gender equality and religious freedom.
Trump’s statements on this issue have been negatively impacted by a remark he made in December 2015, when he called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” This comment stereotyped all Muslims. His statement referred to statistics from the Center for Security Policy, which showed that “25% of those polled agreed that violence against Americans here in the United States is justified as a part of the global jihad” and that 51% of those polled, “agreed that Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to Shariah.” Half a year later, Trump said that this statement was only a suggestion.
American society prides itself on judging people by their actions — not where they come from. What is important is the contribution one makes or the damage one does. And antisemites do damage not only to Jews, but to society at large.
The proposal to keep antisemitic immigrants out of the US is a wise and important one — especially when we look at the experience of Western Europe. For example, Trump said that “as we have seen in France, foreign populations have brought their antisemitic attitudes with them.”
A major ADL study on antisemitism found that the 12 countries where classic antisemitism is most extensive are all Muslim. Eighty percent or more of those populations were found to be antisemitic. And the results of mass Muslim immigration to Western Europe have been disastrous for both Jews and Israel in many ways. One important example: in the latter part of the previous century, most murderous attacks on Jews in Western Europe were committed by Muslims coming from outside of Europe. In this century, all murderous attacks on that same community of Jews were committed by Muslims from within Western Europe.
Major Muslim-perpetrated terror attacks have struck countries across Europe. The five most lethal attacks killed a total of about 500, and wounded thousands. These were in Madrid (2004), London (2005), Paris (2015), Brussels (2015) and Nice (2016). There have been many other attacks and failed attempts — often on a smaller scale, but no less deadly.
The sequence of terror events in the United States was similar. The murderers of 9/11 came from abroad to kill. Since then, there has been a series of murders by domestic Muslims. These include murders in Little Rock in 2009, and at Fort Hood that same year, the Boston marathon bombings in 2013, the San Bernardino murders in 2015 and the June 2016 murders in Orlando — to name but a few.
One should not hide the obvious fact: there is a higher percentage of prejudice among people immigrating from some Muslim countries.
Nevertheless, I recommend that Jewish leaders promote barring immigration of antisemites only after the election — so they aren’t drawn into the 2016 campaign. In the meantime, according to an article in the Forward, some Jews interviewed have shown little understanding of the potential importance — and positive impact — of Trump’s proposal. After the election, Jewish leaders should generate support for this idea, and develop practical plans for how to interview and screen immigrants.
Trump has introduced an important issue at the national level. Jewish leaders would never have been able to do so by themselves. One may wonder which of them would have dared to try to propose this, or would have even wanted to do so. American Jews have a great opportunity here and should not let it go to waste.