The following statement by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is from a Huffington Post article which appeared almost a year ago, on November 20, 2015:

"Acutely aware of the consequences to Jews who were unable to flee Nazism, te United States Holocaust Memorial Museum looks with concern upon the current refugee crisis. While recognizing that security concerns must be fully addressed, we should not turn our backs on the thousands of legitimate refugees.

The Museum calls on public figures and citizens to avoid condemning today's refugees as a group. It is important to remember that many are fleeing because they have been targeted by the Assad regime and ISIS for persecution and in some cases elimination on the basis of their identity."

Is the above statement any less accurate now than it was a year ago?

The same article also quotes the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, a Jewish advocacy group, as saying:

"We cannot and should not blame [refugee] for the actions of an evil terrorist organization...The Jewish community has an important perspective on this debate."

The same article also quotes Georgette Bennett, the president of the Tannenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding and the daughter of Holocaust survivors, as saying that the opposition by US politicians to receiving Syrian refugees reminds her of the time when the St. Louis, a ship containing hundreds of Jewish refugees, was turned away by the United States and sent back to Europe, where many of the passengers subsequently died in Nazi concentration camps.

Today's politicians who are also looking for pretexts to turn away Syrian refugees, often with excuses which one historian, Peter Shulman, mentioned in my recent previous blog on this topic, calls "Eerily Similar" to the excuses used to turn away Jewish refugees in the 1930's, might need to do a little brushing up on their 20th century history.

There are many other Jewish organizations who, evidently, have a much better grasp of what is still recent American refugee history than do many of our elected leaders and candidates.

The Times of Israel reported on November 18, 2015 that there were 11 Jewish groups among the 81 organizations which sent a letter to Congress stating that:

"To turn our back on refugees would be to betray our nation's core values...It would serve as a demoralizing and dangerous message to the world that the United States makes judgments about people based on the country they come from and their religion."

Among the signatories to the letter were the Union for Reform Judaism, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the National Council for Jewish Women, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, all well known Jewish organizations. also reported on December 3, 2015 that over 1,000 American rabbis delivered a letter to Congress urging the admission of Syrian refugees. the letter said in part:

"In 1939, the United States refused to let the S.S. St. Louis dock in our country, sending over 900 Jewish refugees back to Europe, where many died in concentration camps...That moment was a stain on the history of our country - a tragic decision made in a political climate of deep fear, suspicion and antisemitism..

In 1939, our country could not tell the difference between an actual enemy and the victims of an enemy...let us not make the same mistake."

(Because of a technical system problem, I am not able to provide the links to the above articles at the moment. They will be provided as soon as possible.)

There was a time, of course, when our immigration laws did in fact overtly exclude people based on their country of origin and/or their religion.

I am not only referring to the infamous Chinese exclusion laws, which, as I and others have shown, still influence our immigration laws today, but also to statutes such as the Johnson-Reed immigration Act of 1924. As we all know, the "National Origin" immigration quotas in this law were expressly designed to keep out immigrants from the Middle East and Southern and Eastern Europe, including the countries where most of the world's Jews lived.

Is America heading toward a return to the dark ages of our immigration history by keeping out Arab immigrants because of their race and Muslim immigrants because of their religion, under the mantle of national security - an argument which was also used to keep out Jewish refugees in the 1930's, based on nightmare speculation not all that different from the type of arguments that are now being made against the victims of the Syrian tyrants, torturers and terrorists whom the refugees are risking (and in many cases, giving up) their lives to escape from?

If America is heading backwards in that direction, there are many Jewish organizations that know what racial and religious discrimination is all about, and which are saying:

Never Again!

Roger Algase
Attorney at Law