Sunday, May 28, 2006

Restrictive immigration is NOT in the interests of Jews

In this week's Forward, David Klinghoffer, who identifies as an Orthodox Jew, uses an assimilationist argument to endorse "high hurdles" for immigrants to the United States:

He objects to immigrants flying Mexican flags, not wanting to speak English, and he supports the idea that a "self-respecting culture" make strong demands upon those who wish to join it.

This is an argument for assimilation into the broad fabric of American society. As Jews, to do so means extinction. I regularly attend religious services that are held in Hebrew, not in English, where the flag of the state of Israel and not the flag of the United States is flown, where we recite prayer for the state of Israel, but not the United States, where we say prayers for the IDF but not the United States military, and Hatikvah, and not the Star Spangled Banner, is said. And I know Jews who continue to speak Yiddish or Hebrew at home, rather than English. Does Mr. Klinghoffer really think that we need to give up these customs in order to be good US citizens? Or does he argue for a double standard, one in which Jews ought to be different but not Mexicans?

One of the great things about the United States is that it does not require minorities to give up their identity. Jews have benefitted tremedously from this; there is no place in the world where we are more free to practice traditional Judaism. I currently live in a mostly-Irish neighborhood; many homes and businesses proudly display their green, white, and orange. Until a year ago I lived in a mostly-Italian neighborhood and it was very common to see red, white, and green and to hear Italian spoken on the street. Next week, many Jews will march in the Salute to Israel parade wearing blue and white and waving the flag of Medinat Yisrael. How can Mr. Klinghoffer object to the red, white, and green of Mexico?

And Jews, who have been kicked out of most of the countries that once welcomed us, benefit from open borders! Had there been ANY country with truly open borders in 1940, we would not lost six million. Mr. Klinghoffer's advocacy of restrictive immigration is another example of the misidentification of Jewish interests with that of the non-Jewish majority, another example of the dangers of galut.


Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Does Mr. Klinghoffer really think that we need to give up these customs in order to be good US citizens? Or does he argue for a double standard, one in which Jews ought to be different but not Mexicans?

Excellent point!

5/28/2006 4:23 PM  
Blogger David Fryman said...

The double standard in Klinghoffer's argument is glaring. Well done.

5/28/2006 11:02 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

Well put, and well argued against Klinghoffer. Nevertheless, a standard of being required to understand and read English is a good one to have, even if people normally choose to speak in their own language.

5/29/2006 10:13 AM  
Anonymous Koznitzer said...

There is something ersatz, or I might say deeply un-Jewish in much of Klinghoffer's writing. From equating Jews for Jesus with Reform Jews, to this most recent screed, there is a deep strain of religious inauthenticity. I think that it is only a matter of time before he goes home to the Xtianity which obviously remains his core culture. Anyway, your critique will very well put and I think that he will go down in ignominy in the near future.

5/29/2006 7:13 PM  
Blogger Eugene Weixel said...

To Charlie Hall:
It's been such a long time since I was in a synagogue. Really you pray for the IDF and not the US military? Really there's a flag of Israel BUT NOT one of the USA? Is this a congregation of Israelis here on temporary visas or perhaps undocumenteds? Maybe Mr. Klinghoffer cannot differentiate patriotism to Israel and the American USA variety. Comes form being so special, perhaps.

Ezzie: Some people soimply cannot learn to speak a second language try as they may. And for Spanish I would argue that it is so intertwined with US history that it should be deemed a legitimate language of the US (unlike Hebrew). One third of the US once was Mexico. The US annexed Spanish speaking Puerto Rico. The US occupied Spanish speaking cuba and Santo Domingo for decades.

5/30/2006 6:14 AM  
Blogger Charlie Hall said...

The preceeding post was correct. Florida, New Mexico, and California had large Spanish-speaking populations at the time they were annexed to the United States; Puerto Ricans were, as my high school Spanish teacher pointed out to me, made US citizens "not by choice". And all but California were settled by Spanish settlers before Jamestown!

5/30/2006 6:46 AM  
Blogger Eugene Weixel said...

If I believed that someone I cared about was sending himself to eternal damnation and fire I'd try to convince him to change his ways. Why must this be seen as an act of hostility?

5/30/2006 6:51 AM  
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