What Americans thought of Jewish refugees on the eve of World War II

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*The results of the poll illustrated above by the useful Twitter account @HistOpinion were published in the pages of Fortune magazine in July 1938. Fewer than 5 percent of Americans surveyed at the time believed that the United States should raise its immigration quotas or encourage political refugees fleeing fascist states in Europe — the vast majority of whom were Jewish — to voyage across the Atlantic. Two-thirds of the respondents agreed with the proposition that “we should try to keep them out.”

To be sure, the United States was emerging from the Great Depression, hardly a climate in which ordinary folks would welcome immigrants and economic competition. The events of Kristallnacht — a wave of anti-Jewish pogroms in areas controlled by the Nazis — had yet to take place. And the poll’s use of the term “political refugees” could have conjured in the minds of the American public images of communists, anarchists and other perceived ideological threats.

Read more: washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/11/17/what-americans-thought-of-jewish-refugees-on-the-eve-of-world-war-ii/*

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This is very sobering. If we look back on history, who wouldn’t have made different decisions about Jews who were trying to escape Nazi Germany? The more things change, the more they stay the same…

Troubling

Given what we knew in 1938 (not much), and given the economic conditions of 1938 (pretty bad), The responses to the questions as asked, were perfectly reasonable.

Why is the Washington Post resurrecting this Fortune survey now? Not, surely, to try and persuade its readers that there is some kind of parallel with present-day events?

“Refugees” who entered Europe from the eastern Mediterranean just gave the city of Paris its very own, unforgettable Friday the Thirteenth. What is the Washington Post proposing as the comparable event, perpetrated by refugees from central Europe, that took place in 1938?

I don’t think that Jewish refugees and Syrian refugees are a valid comparison.

Jews are an ethnic group, while Syrians are a national one. An honest, apples-to-apples comparison would line up German Jews and Syrian Muslims.

There was no international conspiracy of German Jews in the 1930s attempting to carry out daily attacks on civilians on several continents. No self-identifying Jews in the early 20th century were randomly massacring European citizens in magazine offices and concert halls, and there was no “Jewish State” establishing sovereignty over tens of thousands of square miles of territory, and publicly slaughtering anyone who opposed its advance. Among Syrian Muslims, there is.

The majority of Syrian Muslims may not be party to these strains of radicalism and violence, but it would be dangerous to suggest that they do not exist, or that our refugee-resettlement program need not take account of them.

Well, the poll didn’t make that comparison, the Washington Post (and you) did. The poll is carefully neutral in its wording (kudos to the media of that time). Now, we can infer that the poll was largely reflective of 1938 America’s opinion of Jews and the horrors they were facing, just as today’s polls largely reflect 2015 America’s fear of Muslims. Both reflections demonstrate that when America looks in a mirror, it may as well be the sort that belongs in a house of horrors.

That didn’t stop the Nazis from saying they were. There are too many instances of Jews being ‘made examples’ for their “crimes against the Reich.”

Not at that time, no.

And among those 4 million Syrians (be they Muslim, Christian, whatever) who are fleeing the violence… what are we to do with them? With the 1.3 million Christians who have fled Iraq? Send them back to the rubble and “their” war? Many Muslims sought Christian baptism before, during or after their journey. If sent “home,” their conversion would be punishable by death. Are you saying that you would rather make martyrs than give these people a home because one might be a closet Muslim who might be a radical who might be militant about his radicalism who might have gotten past both ours and Europe’s screenings as they’ve waited in a camp these past three years and might have gotten in touch with someone who might have the means to do us harm. You’ll have to excuse me if I might be reluctant to sacrifice millions to save us from one.

If there are 1.5 BILLION Muslims, and, as has been reported, just a “mere” 10% of them have been radicalized, that would mean there are 1.5 MILLION radicalized Muslims.

The White House is a large domicile. Will the White House be housing any of these refugees?

The Obama family home is sitting unused in Chicago. Wouldn’t this be prime real estate available to the refugees?

Any connection between European refugees in 1938 (not all of whom were Jewish) and Southwest Asian refugees in 2015 (most of whom are Muslim) is bound to fall flat.

Not only was the country in a Great Depression in 1938, which meant many fewer places in the economy for extra bodies; there was also no expectation that Nazi saboteurs would come across with the refugees and start killing people.

ICXC NIKA.

I also am not aware of any people of the Jewish faith threatening to blow up the United States in 1938. Of course, not all Muslims are making this threat. But, enough are that we should be concerned.

Actually the early history of modern Israel is one of terror and claiming land in order to establish an ethnic/religious state.

That’s right.

That didn’t stop the Nazis from saying they were. There are too many instances of Jews being ‘made examples’ for their “crimes against the Reich.”

But those crimes were made up.

And among those 4 million Syrians (be they Muslim, Christian, whatever) who are fleeing the violence… what are we to do with them? With the 1.3 million Christians who have fled Iraq? Send them back to the rubble and “their” war? Many Muslims sought Christian baptism before, during or after their journey. If sent “home,” their conversion would be punishable by death. Are you saying that you would rather make martyrs than give these people a home because one might be a closet Muslim who might be a radical who might be militant about his radicalism who might have gotten past both ours and Europe’s screenings as they’ve waited in a camp these past three years and might have gotten in touch with someone who might have the means to do us harm. You’ll have to excuse me if I might be reluctant to sacrifice millions to save us from one.

I am tried of this nonsense. I am tired of terrorist apologists.

America has the right and responsibility to protect it’s citizens. No one is sacrificing MILLIONS. But someone sacrificed 130 Parisians, and someone sacrificed 3000 Americans on 9/11. That must stop!

We are not violating anybody’s freedom, rights, or otherwise by acting in a way as to defend and protect the people of this country and the Constitution. The fact that someone might come from a country or territory ravaged by war does not by itself qualify one as an asylum candidate.

To qualify for asylum in the United States, the applicant must be a ‘refugee’ as defined by federal law. That definition (set forth in Section 1101(a)(42)(A) of Title , US Code) also requires the executive branch to take account of the alien’s religion: The term ‘refugee’ means (A) any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality … and who is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of … religion (among other things).

Our country has a record of looking out for itself. America has statute after statute, historical event after historical event, precedent after precedent. We have never, ever just opened the doors to anyone on the basis of “humanity” or “compassion” and said, “Come on in!”

Our president and the other “terrorist apologists” want to do just that.

Asylum is a discretionary national act of compassion directed by law, not a whim to address persecution.

Nowhere does the law say we must put ourselves at risk in order to exercise this compassion. Nowhere does it say anywhere in American statutory law or in American precedent that we must throw our values overboard in order to be compassionate.

There is no right to emigrate to the United States of America. Therefore, us – we – by maintaining our standards as established by law, protecting our national security and sovereignty are not violating anybody’s rights by standing up for our own.

I don’t think the term “terror” applies very well to Jews during the early history of modern Israel

He is no terrorist apologist , and you go to far to suggest so , and for the record the vast majority of the refugees are in fact refugees, women , men , children trying to stay alive , who have little to nothing , for you to blame millions for the actions of a few is immoral, unjust , and contrary to the Scriptures.
Letting them in is our values , prosecute people found to be criminals sure , but don’t condemn millions to die what your suggesting is NOT compassion, not in the slightest , and FYI america lets thousands of refugees in each year with little insident .

I am in complete agreement with this. Moreover there was no way in the world.that a Jew in Germany could have belonged to the SS or be an ally to Hitler. Also.there was no.way in the world.that someone from the SS could.have passed as Jew. There was a clear difference between Jews and Germans and.no one.from one side.could.pass as the other side.

That is not.the situation with Syrian refugees. People.from IS iS can easily infiltrate between refugees and there is no way to distinguish one from the other. The comparison is Apple’s.to oranges.

That’s 1 percent of 1.5 Billion. 10 percent would be 150 Million.

I think it is quite sad that America and other nations are not allowing in these refugees. Perhaps it is because I am an Eastern Catholic of one of the Syrian Rites and it is the faithful of my sister Churches that are being decimated. The acts of ISIS can only be compared to that of Turkey during the World War and their genocide against Armenians and other Eastern Chrisitians, they did such things as crucify Armenian Woman naked on crosses (it was to shame them even in their death). It should be noted that ISIS also promotes similar acts of injustice, regularly killing off Eastern Chrisitans and even their own fellow Muslims in the most despicable ways. It is easy for politicians of these countries, while sitting in their comfy chairs and air conditionerd homes to deny these people who have suffered beyond grief. By doing so, the most ancient of Christian Rites is being killed off.

However I will not deny that the security risk of allowing refugees is also real and worthy of notice. It is very likely that ISIS would try to disguise its members as refugees to gain access into nations they wish to target. So the issue sadly stands at a stalemate. Unless one day these nations design a fail proof method of determining the refugees from the radicals, it doesn’t seem like much can be done.

Why should your head of state house refugees in the White House? That’s a bizarre road to go down and as odd as people saying why isn’t the Vatican doing the same when the Pope urges mercy to refugees.

So what do you call the King David Hotel bombing? What do you call attacks on Arab villages? What do you call attacks on British military and police stations? That seems like pretty basic terrorism. Or it would be if Muslims did that in a Western country.

I would call it people waging a just war to reclaim their lands.

Why would a Muslim fly a jet plane into a building full of innocent people?

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