Why Aren’t We Doing More?
So I spent a lot of today driving, which means hearing a lot about Syrian and Etrurian refugees. I know this is going to be an uphill battle because Etrurian isn’t even a word. Hearing what these people are going through is rough. It’s especially rough because, while I didn’t expect to have a lot of sympathy for them; I find I do. The reason I feel sympathy for them is the strangest thing. It’s because I’m Jewish.
Because I’m Jewish I know a lot about the Holocaust. I know how the world turned a blind eye to everything that was going on in Nazi Germany and how they were executing Jews, and Poles, and the Roma people, and Slavs, and Homosexuals, and Dissidents. I know about the experimentation, the starvation, the forced labor, the humiliation, the abuse, and the endless, endless executions.
Because I’m Jewish I know a lot about how the Jewish people after the war were shifted from place to place as “DPs” who couldn’t return home for fear of “retribution” and who couldn’t go anywhere else because there was no place to go until Israel was formed.
Because I’m Jewish I know a lot about how so so many refugees tried to escape before the war started, before things got SO bad and were turned back time and again. Particularly heart wrenching, although not at all unusual, is the plight of the passengers of the S.S. St. Louis. These people were trying to get into Cuba temporarily while they were trying to get full asylum in the U.S. Cuba reneged on the deal, the US blocked any attempt to land there, and finally they returned to Europe where most of them ended up in Belgium, France and Holland where their refuge was temporary; some escaped to Great Britain to find a final, useful refuge.
I’m afraid I don’t know a lot about Etruria but I’m a lot more confident talking about Syria. Al Asaad and Al Baghdadi are awful people. They are the kind of people that could give lessons to Atilla the Hun, Stalin, and Hitler. Al Asaad is using chlorine gas and indiscriminate bombing on his own people, and the depredations of ISIS are well known.
These refugees are risking life and limb, entrusting their lives to criminal gangs in a desperate hope of not being gassed, or beheaded, or forced into a war they don’t want to fight, or being burned alive, or being raped to death, or having these things happen to their wives, or children.
So I asked my Rabbi, why aren’t we doing more? We are giving money, we are giving aid, but we should be opening our doors. We should be pressuring our leaders, our congressmen our senators, our governors to act, to say “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” When we were desperate, when we were alone in the world, when no one in the world wanted to help us, when the only ones we could trust were ourselves, we promised we would never forget. When it was over we said Never Again.
It is time to honor that promise. It is time to say “When we asked, you didn’t help us. Now we ask again, help them.”
No, it won’t be cheap. Good things aren’t. No it won’t be easy. Good things aren’t. Yes our enemies will try to use this against us. That’s why they’re enemies, but at the same time we will be showing the hollowness of their “morality”. We will be saying “We will fix this, we will help you, we aren’t the same as you but once we were and we remember when no one wanted us, we remember when we were the outcasts, we remember when there were no doors open. We will open our doors.”
Because Never Again should MEAN Never Again.