Wednesday, November 21st | 13 Kislev 5779

February 3, 2017 5:23 am

Trump’s Immigration Edict Obscures a Larger Issue

avatar by Martin Sherman

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Middle Eastern migrants. Photo: Gémes Sándor/SzomSzed via Wikimedia Commons.

Middle Eastern migrants. Photo: Gémes Sándor/SzomSzed via Wikimedia Commons.

“In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot…admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law…[T]he United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation…”

— Executive Order, “Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States,” January 27, 2017.

“About eight-in-ten Muslims in Egypt and Pakistan (82% each) endorse the stoning of people who commit adultery; 70% of Muslims in Jordan and 56% of Nigerian Muslims share this view. Muslims in Pakistan and Egypt are also the most supportive of whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft and robbery; 82% in Pakistan and 77% in Egypt favor…this type of punishment…as do 65% of Muslims in Nigeria and 58% in Jordan. When asked about the death penalty for those who leave the Muslim religion, at least three-quarters of Muslims in Jordan (86%), Egypt (84%) and Pakistan (76%) say they would favor making it the law; in Nigeria, 51% of Muslims favor [it].”

— Pew Research Center, “Global Attitudes & Trends,” December 2, 2010.

In the tumultuous brouhaha that erupted over President Donald Trump’s Executive Order restricting immigration to the US, the larger, underlying issue involved has, to great measure, been obscured.

The gravest of threats 

This it both regrettable and perilous, for the issue is of the utmost gravity and impinges on no less than the very survival of Western civilization; the Judeo-Christian values on which that civilization was founded; and the countries that rose from that world and attracted all who sought greater liberty and/or enhanced material well-being.

Whether one lauds or laments the order itself, whether one commends or condemns the manner in which it was issued, there can be little doubt as to the severity of the problem with which it was designed to contend. With the onset of globalization and pursuant large-scale population movements, one of the existential challenges the more successful and prosperous nations are being forced to confront is how to prevent themselves from being inundated by residents from less successful and affluent countries fleeing penury or persecution at home.

While it is demonstrably true that immigration from diverse countries across the globe has often greatly benefited the host nation, and that the energy and enterprise that immigrants demonstrated have enriched and advanced their adoptive societies, a word of caution is called for. A clear distinction must be made in assessing the potential merits and menaces inherent in large-scale immigration.

Perverse, paradoxical outcome

It is one thing if an enterprising immigrant arrives in a new country and is integrated into the prevailing sociocultural fabric (which, presumably, is what made that country his/her desired destination in the first place) to become a productive contributing member of society. It is quite another if huge waves of immigrants, from countries where fundamental sociocultural mores and values are not only different, but are antithetical to those of the host nation, attempt to impose those divergent mores/values on their new societal environs. After all, this would transform the host countries into something greatly reminiscent of the very societies the immigrants had elected to leave.

Regrettably, this is precisely what is occurring in large swathes of the Western world — in Britain, Germany, Belgium, France and Sweden — where society is being torn apart by waves of (im)migrants from Muslim-majority countries that have converted growing urban enclaves into no-go zones for law-enforcement officers, and which non-Muslims enter at their peril.

Indeed, in a recent column, “Europe 2016: A Study in Self-Cannibalization,” I underscored the perversely paradoxical tragedy emerging: “[a]s the massive influx of Muslim immigrants engulf the European Union and press against the gates of North America today, bringing with them much of what they were attempting to flee.” I cautioned that:

…the appalling truth is becoming increasingly clear. Across the Western world today, political liberalism is undergoing a process of self-cannibalization. It is being devoured by the very values which made it into arguably the most successful and influential sociopolitical doctrine in modern history.

Israel as a microcosm? 

Until recently, Israel was faced with a similar threat. Imperiled by its very success as an affluent, tolerant society, it was confronted by the tangible specter of being inundated by a massive stream of migrants/refugees — mainly from Sudan and Eritrea — seeking to extricate themselves from the destitution and dangers in their home countries.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was widely rebuked for tweeting an apparent endorsement of Trump’s plan to erect a wall along the southern border of the US in order to prevent uncontrolled illegal immigration from Mexico and other Latin American countries. In the tweet, Netanyahu referred to Israel’s largely successful experience of dealing with the problem of huge, unregulated inflows of foreign migrants by means of a physical barrier along the border.

Now, whether one is inclined to endorse or excoriate Netanyahu’s message, the social afflictions that accompanied those inflows, and the hardships they inflicted on some segments of the domestic population cannot be denied.

These were graphically conveyed in an article by Haaretz’s Nehemia Shtrasler (neither my usual preferred source of reference), in which he frankly stipulated: “In the struggle…over the fate of the African migrant workers, what interests me is the fate of south Tel Aviv’s residents. True, the migrant workers are also important, but they come second. First come the residents of…[south Tel Aviv], who used to live in a normal, albeit problematic environment, but in the last five years have found themselves in a ‘southern hell.’”

“… hard to understand human rights organizations…”

Shtrasler quoted the predicament of Itzik, a business owner in the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station and a resident of the area, who bewailed the fate that African migration had wrought on him and others in the neighborhood: “I’m attacked here on a daily basis. They enter my store and shout that I must leave. I’ve been attacked ten times with sticks. I keep a knife I’m so scared. They act like victors…they humiliate us and we feel…that nobody defends [us],”  

As someone who can hardly be accused of being a hard-line right-winger, Shtrasler strongly rebukes pro-migration activists: “It’s also hard to understand the human rights organizations, which show no consideration for the south Tel Aviv residents. I still remember how they objected to building the fence on the Egyptian border, claiming it was against international law.”

Reproachfully, he remarked: “As far as they’re concerned, all five million Africans in Egypt today can move to Israel.”

With a potential number of African migrants/refugees virtually equal to the total domestic population of Israel, the consequences of the unfettered immigration policy advocated by lenient liberals would have — in all likelihood — culminated in the total transformation of the Jewish state and its societal realities, turning Israel into an entity resembling the countries that the migrants had left behind in the search of something different.

No illegal immigration from Canada

Returning to the realities in the US, the two major sources of “problematic” immigration are Hispanic immigration from Latin America, chiefly, but not exclusively, Mexico; and Muslim immigration, mainly from the Middle East, and Central and Southern Asia.

With regard to the former, an intriguing question would be: Why is there no illegal immigration from America’s northern neighbor, Canada, along their common border — the longest international border between two countries and well over double that of the US-Mexico border, which is itself so plagued by unlawful infiltration?

This question is particularly relevant in light of the fact that the sociocultural environment in the US (especially with regard to language-related matters) differs far more from Mexico’s than it does Canada’s, making immigration from the former comparatively far more daunting than from the latter, where societal realities are almost a seamless match with those in the US.

The answer is, of course, in the divergent socioeconomic realities that prevail in America’s northern and southern neighbors. Indeed, there is all the reason to believe that if the reality in Mexico – in terms of GDP per capita, human development, employment opportunities and law enforcement — were to approach that of Canada, there would be a commensurate lack of incentive to emigrate to the US.

There seems little objective reason for this socioeconomic disparity. After all, Mexico is hardly a country devoid of natural or human resources. The problem seems to lie with the manner in with those resources are marshaled and mobilized.

Accordingly, the onus for the ongoing effort of Mexicans to migrate north must be placed largely on poor governance of Mexico, and the onus in failing to confront and curtail it must be placed, again, on those charged with the governance of Mexico, not the US.

The matter of Muslims

For anyone who believes that the US Constitution, as a fundamental blueprint for the configuration of society, is not a Sharia-compliant document, the issue of large-scale Muslim immigration to the US is a grave problem.

It is clear that a society organized on the basis of the Constitution and one organized on the basis of Sharia law are totally incompatible on issues such as gender equality, sociocultural diversity, religious tolerance, personal liberties and so on.

The grim experience in Europe — particularly in Germany — demonstrates definitively that, despite the most magnanimous politically correct goodwill, the intrinsic “clash of (incompatible) civilizations” is inevitable.  In this regard, it is important not to be misled by deceptive media reports, suggesting that harsh radical and starkly illiberal beliefs are confined to an insignificant minority of jihadi extremists.

This gross, but seductively comforting, misrepresentation was somewhat colorfully exposed by David French in this week’s National Review: “The media treats the immigrant population from jihadist nations as if it’s a vast sea of wonderful people contaminated with a tiny few terrorists. But the concern isn’t just about finding the deadly needle in an otherwise-benign haystack. It’s also about whether we’re admitting people who will assimilate into American life or those who will import many of the dysfunctions and problems of their home countries.”

Referring to the dismal European experience, he warns: “The degree of homegrown terror in Europe is…not an argument in favor of importing more people from nations with intensely tribal cultures that have proven to be uniquely susceptible to the jihadist message.”

Islam, by the numbers

French’s dour assessment is backed up by reputable statistical research. Thus, the well-respected Pew Research Center published a 2010 survey of public opinion in seven major Muslim-majority countries in Africa, the Mideast and Asia. It produced some dismaying results (see introductory excerpts) in which massive majorities (typically 75-85%) in countries such as Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan and Nigeria, and sizable minorities (30-40%) in Indonesia — with its population of almost 300 million — support amputations for theft, stoning to death for adultery and execution for apostasy.

A 2013 Pew poll which spanned 29 Muslim countries, whose results were presented in a telling Clarion Project video, entitled “By The Numbers – The Untold Story of Muslim Opinions & Demographics,” by Raheel Raza, herself a Sunni Muslim, produced some chilling findings. Huge numbers of Muslims (between 200 and 350 million) — almost the size of the entire population of the United States — believe that apostasy should be punished by death; justify honor killings of female family members; support the stoning of spouses for adultery; and endorse whipping/amputation for theft. In the West, 42% of French Muslims, 35% of British Muslims and 26% of US Muslims, aged 18-29, believe suicide bombings “can be justified.”

The stark choice

So there you have it. The choice is stark.

Should the US, as per Trump’s executive order, “ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles”? Or should it not?

Should the US “…admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law”? Or should it not?

A stark choice, indeed — but an unavoidable one.

Martin Sherman is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.

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