[Previously by Marcus Epstein: "The Price I Paid For Civilization"—Zora Neale Hurston on Blacks, Brown, And The American Nation-State]
The Center For Immigration Studies recently sponsored a panel in Washington, DC to showcase Dr. Stephen Steinlight's latest monograph, "High Noon to Midnight: Why Current Immigration Policy Dooms American Jewry." This follows Steinlight's pioneering October 2001 essay, "The Jewish Stake in America's Changing Demography".
CIS has a silly habit of trying to prove how moderate it is at the expense of VDARE.COM. But your stoical editors nevertheless asked me to attend.
On the podium with Steinlight (e-mail him) was neoconservative David Frum, and Joseph Puder, the director of the Interfaith Taskforce for American and Israel, and an officer of the American Jewish Congress. The event was moderately attended by approximately two-dozen people, mostly local policy wonks. No members of the press were in the audience and no accounts appear to have been published (except in the blogosphere). CIS is having a lot of trouble getting this debate started.
I didn't think Frum (e-mail him) or Puder (e-mail him) contributed very much to the discussion of Jews and immigration policy. Frum's remarks were limited to the virtues of a National ID card and fingerprinting everyone who breaks the speed limit. But as Frum is probably the most influential and well-known of the panelists, it is worth noting that he is beginning to say that you cannot stop illegal immigration without lowering the total number of legal immigrants into the country.
Mr. Puder's comments similarly raised some interesting points about assimilation and Muslim immigration, but he did not talk about the link between immigration policy and American Jewry.
While not a monolithic group, American Jews have tended to support a liberal immigration policy. "The Melting Pot" and "The New Colossus", two of the greatest pieces in the canon of the American immigration mystique, were both written by Jews. The Anti-Defamation league and The American Jewish Committee both played a major role in promoting the 1965 Immigration Act, as did Jewish politicians like Representative Emanuel Cellers and Senator Jacob Javits.
For the past couple of years, Dr. Steinlight has been urging American Jews to reevaluate their support for current immigration policy. Perhaps 'reevaluate' is the wrong word, because he is rather frank about the Jewish role in supporting a lax immigration policy in the past, and makes no apologies for it. He referred in his first paper to the 1924 immigration cut-off legislation as "evil" and "xenophobic." Although he was admittedly a newcomer to the restrictionist position, he had no qualms in asserting that long-term restrictionists, or "classic anti-immigrant, xenophobic, and racist nativist forces," should have no role in shaping the immigration debate:
"The white 'Christian' supremacists who have historically opposed either all immigration or all non-European immigration (Europeans being defined as Nordic or Anglo-Saxon), a position re-asserted by Peter Brimelow, must not be permitted to play a prominent role in the debate over the way America responds to unprecedented demographic change."
There is much that can be said about the merits of this statement, and many other historical and moral claims in Dr. Steinlight's original paper, some of which were addressed at length by Joseph Fallon in The Social Contract and by Sam Francis in Chronicles, and by Peter Brimelow and John White for VDARE.com.
But, regardless of the merits of the past immigration, the point is that Dr. Steinlight no longer believes that mass immigration is in the interests of American Jewry.
One reason is that it will lead to "diminished Jewish political power." He acknowledges that Jews have political influence vastly outside their numbers and says they should not be apologetic for that. After the Holocaust, he believes Jews couldn't afford to be apolitical.
One manifestation of this Jewish political influence: America's support for Israel. According to Dr. Steinlight, Jewish groups have succeeded in securing American support for Israel "by default," because there was no other group in America that was as passionate about the issue. However, as Muslims pour into this country, they are likely to act as a counterbalance and could possibly prevent America from supporting Israel.
If current immigration and birth rates continue, Muslims will eventually outnumber Jews in America in the next twenty years, if not sooner. They already outnumber Jews in Canada and every European country. In France and Britain, the Muslim-Jew ratio is ten to one.
Dr. Steinlight believes that this should trouble Jews—and all Americans—not just because of potential problems with terrorism, but also because of anti-Semitic violence. In Europe, where there is a large Muslim population, anti-Semitic violence has rapidly increased in recent years. The EU recently commissioned a study on anti-Semitic violence that determined that young Arabs were responsible for most of it. The EU shelved the report and re-commissioned the study, deciding, as Steinlight put it,
"rather like the famous lines of Claude Rains in Casablanca" to 'round up the usual suspects.' And they rounded up the usual suspects: skinheads, the followers of Le Pen and so on and so forth."
Similarly, in the U.S., at the offices of Jewish organizations where everyone has to enter through bulletproof glass, metal detectors, and concrete barriers because of the threat of Muslim terrorism, the staff devotes their time to
"talking about the threats posed by evangelical Christians or how they can increase publicity for Mel Gibson's film The Passion of Christ, or how they can castigate Mormons for converting dead Jews."
Dr. Steinlight says he has discussed the immigration question with many prominent Jewish leaders. Some have privately agreed with him on the problems posed by increased Muslim immigration, but are hesitant to say so publicly because open borders has been an article of faith for many Jews. Dr. Steinlight believes that it is only a matter of time before more Jews and Jewish groups begin to support immigration reform.
He reported that, after he addressed the board of a Jewish organization about the problems of Arab immigration, one leftist member told him "I'm proud of my organization's support for generous immigration, but why can't we just not let Arabs in?"
In the question time, CIS executive director Mark Kirkorian (e-mail him) asked if, indeed, it was possible or desirable to stop Muslim immigration without limiting immigration from Latinos and other ethnic groups.
Dr. Steinlight responded that he did not believe that it would politically possible to limit immigration by national origin, so across the board cuts would be necessary. This would have to be buttressed by banning certain radical sects of Islam, just as Communists were banned from immigrating in the past, and by racially profiling Arabs.
Besides, Steinlight did not think that Latino immigration was desirable either. The reason is that, while most white Americans are very sensitive to Jewish concerns, immigrants from Latin and Central America are
"steeped in a culture of theological anti-Semitism that's defied the post-Vatican II enlightenment of European and North American Catholicism. Nor have they a mitigating history of familiarity with Jews, little knowledge and no direct or familial experience of the Holocaust, and regard Jews simply as among the most privileged of white Americans. An ADL study found 47 percent of Latinos hold strongly anti-Semitic attitudes."
Many VDARE.com readers may not agree that ensuring American aid to Israel, or the fact that Latino Catholics are not immersed in the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, are the most compelling reasons to support immigration restriction.
But if more Jews begin to support a more restrictive immigration policy, it will certainly be a welcome development.
As Dr. Steinlight noted, Jews have a great deal of political influence that they have wielded to promote open borders in the past. If they used that influence to support immigration reform, it will certainly help the restrictionist cause.
The immigration reform movement is a coalition. To succeed, it must include groups who have disparate views on other issues.