Jewish Community Relations Councilof San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties


Outrage Follows Outrage

November 19, 2015
Posted by: JCRC Staff

Following last week’s deadly terror attacks in Paris, people around the world have joined in a massive outpouring of grief and outrage. This outcry has included communities of all faiths: Jewish, Muslim, Christians, all stand united with the people of France in this dark hour.

This attack occurred at a time of robust debate here in the U.S. about our role in the Syrian refugee crisis and immediately prompted governors in 30 states to proclaim that they would prohibit the resettlement of Syrian refugees in their states. In addition, the House of Representatives today passed a bill that would block Syrian and Iraqi refugees from entering the country unless they pass strict background checks. Yes, rigorous security screening is important, but to retaliate by refusing refugees plays into the hands of the terrorists and can only beget more terror. We must remember what so many Americans thought about Jews during our greatest time of need.

That’s why JCRC has written to members of Congress this week to urge an increase in the annual admission of Syrian refugees. “Since our nation has the most robust resettlement capability in the world,” wrote JCRC in its letter, "we must set an example for the international community."

Jewish tradition instructs us to “love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:17-19). Lessons from our history and tradition continue to compel the American Jewish community to support generous and rational immigration and refugee policies. Today, our nation must not only expand its aid to the Syrian people, but also ‘welcome the stranger’ who is seeking to escape some of the greatest horrors on the planet.

It bears keeping in mind that, although Daesh claims to be Muslim, its number one victim is Muslims. It also bears repeating that this is but the latest in a long sequence of atrocities, and there will be more. More shootings, more bombings, more refugees. In fact, just a day before the Paris attacks a brutal double suicide bombing tore Beirut apart, killing more than 40 people – the largest assault of its kind in Lebanon in more than two decades. To the consternation of many, the Beirut attack received less immediate attention and was then eclipsed by events in Paris. “The implication, numerous Lebanese commentators complained, was that Arab lives mattered less,” observed Anne Barnard in The New York Times.

Compounding this sense of inequity is the hideous backlash against Muslim and Arab bystanders, or even people who just look Muslim. Islamophobia is now a mainstay in American politics and innocents are victimized by hate crimes after every major act of terrorism. Consider this list of anti-Muslim acts reported in the U.S. just since the Paris attacks. We must not succumb to the same kind of fear that kept the U.S. from saving one third of European Jewry from destruction during the Shoah and put Japanese Americans in internment camps at the same time. Doing so would destroy the values that keep us safe, secure and united.

All people who value peace and unity must stand shoulder to shoulder against the evil of terrorism.

PHOTO: A headline from The New York Times, circa 1938 (read more).