Monday, August 20, 2007


Like the U.S. and not very many other countries, Israel is both a country with its own pragmatic interests and an ideal that stands beyond pragmatic interests. There is obviously a tension between these roles for the U.S., Israel, and other countries that face the same paradox.I would strongly hope that Israel will find a way to provide meaningful help to refugees from Darfur. The fact is that Jewish communities in the U.S. have been in the forefront of efforts to mobilize American sentiments to help the people of Darfur, and it ought to be possible for Israel to do likewise in the world community.When Hitler started killing many Jews, and threatened to kill many more Jews (as he ultimately did), the effect of that was to marginalize Jews in the minds of the world. President Roosevelt asked his neighbors in upstate New York whether they would accept Jewish refugees, and got a generally negative reception. A suggestion by the Ernest Greuning, then Governor of Alaska and of Jewish descent, that the U.S. send refugees from Nazi Germany to help settle Alaska, was also dismissed after some consideration. If the Jews were any good, the rationale went, why didn't Hitler want them?The Jews from Nazi Germany included some of the most brilliant and hardest working people in the world. Those who escaped the death camps made major contributions to the economic, scientific and military progress of the countries where they settled, as did their children and grandchildren.We should learn the lesson that the value of refugees is not determined by those who persecute them. The U.S., Israel, and other responsible countries and private sector organizations should do much more than has been done so far to secure the lives and the futures of the refugees.

August 19, 2007