The Newnan Times-Herald

Opinion

Immigration and our democratic values


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Feb. 01, 2018 - 9:39 PM

President Trump was 100 percent wrong in his racist attacks on immigrants from Africa and elsewhere.

His words were unworthy of any American, much less a president. Immigration is undoubtedly complicated, or we would have already reached a consensus. But one immigration criteria should be acceptable to both the left and right. We should restrict immigration to people of any race or religion who share our democratic values.

France is a good example of what not to do.

In the wake of the 2015 attacks on Jews, Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel called for French Jews to move there. To some, this may sound like a radical response to that crisis. After all, the Chief Rabbi of France pushed back, calling for increased security instead – which has in fact happened – in the wake of the attacks. But, it would be good to put this call into context.

As somewhat unrestricted immigration of Muslims to Europe has increased, Jews have been under increasing attack. Nowhere is this more evident than in France.

No one can criticize the spirit behind the rally in Paris several years ago, in which over one million people came out to decry efforts by Islamic religious radicals to stifle a free press via violence against Charlie Hebdo, a French publication which ran a cartoon making fun of Islam. Secondarily… almost as an afterthought… that rally also protested the murdering of French Jews at a kosher supermarket.

Many on the French left have ignored or rationalized this situation. The left has shamefully cited violence in the Middle East as an excuse for Muslims attacking French Jews who have never even been to Israel.

Along those lines, France’s National Consultative Commission on Human Rights issued a report saying anti-Semitic incidents were down by over 50 percent year to year. However, in a ridiculous appeal to out of bounds political correctness, the report omitted reports of Muslim on Jewish hate crimes.

In recent years, France has had numerous anti-Semitic incidents but accurate statistics are hard to come by in that the majority of incidents are not reported to authorities. According to a recent European Union survey of European Jews, France itself is the most anti-Semitic nation in Europe, with 52 percent of French Jews stating that it is a “big problem.” In the UK, for example, the number is only 11 percent.

Arguably the most heinous anti-Semitic act in recent years was the 2006 kidnapping and killing of Ilan Halimi. Halimi was a 22-year-old Parisian kidnapped specifically because he was a Jew. The kidnappers were Muslims or Muslim converts.

He was held for three weeks, duct-taped from head to feet, with a straw for feeding. Occasionally, he was unwrapped solely for the purpose of being burned and horribly tortured.

Although his captors believed all Jews to be rich, Halimi was a cell phone salesman from a poor Algerian immigrant family.  The kidnappers asked for 450,000 Euros in ransom, which the family could not pay.

After three weeks, Halimi… naked, handcuffed, bleeding and with severe burns covering 80 percent of his body… was set free by his captors.  He died within minutes. Fifty people were knowledgeable about the kidnapping, and 19 people were convicted.

The Halimi murder is probably the most gruesome individual case, but there have been numerous recent incidents of violence against French Jews. Several years ago, a Jewish school in Toulouse was attacked, resulting in the deaths of a Rabbi and several children. The Synagogue of La Roquette was attacked by 200-300 protesters trying to get inside and harm Jews trapped inside.

In recent years, Jewish businesses were firebombed and burned.  Innocent French Jews were attacked with stun guns and Tasers, sprayed with tear gas and beaten. One even had a swastika cut into his chest. Swastikas were painted on graves in a Jewish cemetery. There were no massive million person rallies by the French to protest these outrages, instigated primarily by Muslim immigrants.

It is no wonder that 8,000 Jews emigrated from France to Israel in 2015, up from less than 2,000 in 2011. My prediction is that unless France tackles its problem of anti-Semitism, specifically including hate crime attacks by Muslim immigrants, this number will increase.

Vetting is needed here to ensure that all immigrants to the USA share our values so that we do not become another France.

Jack Bernard of Fayette County, a retired corporate executive, was a two-term county commissioner and former county Republican Party chairman in Jasper County.