New York Times Op-Ed Sides With Pope Against Jewish Group on Holocaust Comment
An op-ed in the New York Times faults the American Jewish Committee for criticizing Pope Francis’ casual comparison of European treatment of Muslim migrants to the Holocaust.
The author of the op-ed, Dawn Eden Goldstein, describes herself as “a Jewish convert to Catholicism.”
Goldstein writes, “[T]o be honest, are parallels between Europe’s treatment of migrants and the Nazis’ treatment of Jews and other persecuted populations during World War II really such a stretch?”
To be honest, they really are a stretch.
Only because the point seems to elude the Pope, Goldstein, and for that matter, her editors at the Times, here goes.
The Nazis deliberately exterminated six million Jews and would have killed more if they hadn’t been stopped by the Allies.
European governments aren’t out to exterminate Muslims. They are trying to impose some limits on the numbers of Muslim refugees they accept, so that they aren’t overrun in a way that opens them up to additional threats of terrorism (beyond the many terrorist attacks already committed in Europe by radical Islamists), to extreme cultural shifts, or to potentially severe economic distress.
I happen to favor extremely liberal immigration policies, in part for humanitarian reasons. But even I, as one who favors liberal immigration policies including admitting lots of refugees, can see that there is a big difference between planning and executing a genocide, on the one hand, and exercising sovereign control over immigration policy, on the other hand.
Now, one might object that the consequence, for the would-be immigrants, is the same. A Muslim individual is just as dead if he drowns trying to sneak across a sea into Europe because the legal border entry is closed, as if he died in a gas chamber organized by some hypothetical European military force. But genocide is a crime that requires intent. The border control exists for legitimate purposes other than causing Muslims to die. In contrast, there were and are no such legitimate purposes for gas chambers.
If the Times wants an op-ed on the topic of Francis’ remarks, you’d think they’d ask for one from the American Jewish Committee. Instead the newspaper publishes this piece from “a Jewish convert to Catholicism,” taking the American Jewish Committee to task.
Goldstein writes: “The American Jewish Committee, and all people of good will, should rise to the pope’s challenge with collaboration, not condemnation.”
Basic op-ed editing and writing craft involves deleting the word “should.” It comes off as preachy, and some Times editor would have been wiser to have caught it and fixed it. Or better yet, never have published this particular piece to begin with.
Goldstein claims that her personal history somehow makes her better suited to understand the issues involved here: “As a Jewish convert to Catholicism, I sympathize with the committee’s desire to guard against comparisons that would risk minimizing the Nazis’ appalling crimes.”
The Nazis’ “appalling crimes” involved attempting to eradicate not only Jews but also Judaism, a point that any other prospective “Jewish convert to Catholicism” might pause to consider. Regardless of the personal religious background of the author, though, the main point is that this particular op-ed piece was a weak one.
More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.