Both Donald Trump and His Critics Are Wrong about Immigration and Refugees

In issuing the recent restrictions on entry to the U.S., writes Tom Gross, the president has done much damage. But the hysterical reactions of his critics have not displayed much understanding, or ethical discernment:

The executive order is morally unacceptable (it amounts to collective punishment), strategically dubious (since many terrorists are home-grown or came from countries other than those seven), and was initially implemented in a confusing and clumsy way which caused [unnecessary] distress and uncertainty to many travelers, including U.S. residents, even if they were not in the end affected by the order. Additionally, it sets an anti-immigrant tone, when immigrants can hugely benefit their new countries. . . .

But whereas those protesting Trump are in many ways correct, the self-righteousness and double standards of some is troubling. . . . [T]he war in Syria descended into barbarity in part because President Obama encouraged the rebels, and the Sunni majority population of Syria who supported them, promising them arms and protection, and then abandoned them. Obama went on to release billions of dollars in funds to the Iranian regime, whose forces and Shiite militias in Syria have done much, if not most, of the killing there these past six years. The new funds helped the Iranians fuel the effort to cleanse Sunnis from Syria, leading many to seek sanctuary in Europe and beyond. While millions of people in America, Britain, and elsewhere have protested Trump’s refugee policies in just one week, they had little to say about Obama’s foreign policies over the last eight years. . . .

The Guardian’s Owen Jones helped promote last night’s “Emergency demo against Trump’s #MuslimBan” outside [the British prime minister’s residence on] Downing Street. But where was the protest when Israelis were banned from Malaysia and fifteen other Muslim-majority countries—including Yemen, Syria, Libya, Sudan, and Iran, the same countries whose citizens will now face increased vetting before visiting the U.S.? . . .

Donald Trump’s start as president has not been good. But he may yet find creative ways to stop the refugee flow in the first place. He is reportedly in talks with the Saudis about setting up safe zones for Syrians inside Saudi Arabia (if not inside Syria itself), and limiting Iran’s “destabilizing regional activities” in the region. If this works, it could, in the longer term, be more significant in helping Syrians than anything that was done under Obama.

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More about: Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Immigration, Politics & Current Affairs, Refu, Refugees, Syrian civil war

 

Palestinian Acceptance of Israel as the Jewish State Must Be a Prerequisite to Further Negotiations

Oct. 19 2018

In 1993, in the early days of the Oslo peace process, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) under Yasir Arafat accepted the “right of the state of Israel to exist in peace and security.” But neither it nor its heir, the Palestinians Authority, has ever accepted Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, or the right of the Jewish people to self-determination. Robert Barnidge explains why this distinction matters:

A Jewish state for the Jewish people, after all, was exactly what the [UN] General Assembly intended in November 1947 when it called for the partition of the Palestine Mandate into “the Arab state, the Jewish state, and the city of Jerusalem.”

Although the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state does not stand or fall on this resolution—in declaring the independence of Israel on the eve of the Sabbath on May 14, 1948, the Jewish People’s Council, [the precursor to the Israeli government], also stressed the Jewish people’s natural and historic rights—it reaffirms the legitimacy of Jewish national rights in (what was to become) the state of Israel.

The Palestinians have steadfastly refused to recognize Jewish self-determination. [Instead], the PLO [has been] playing a double game. . . . It is not simply that the PLO supported the General Assembly’s determination in 1975, rescinded in 1991, that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” It is that that the PLO leadership continues to speak of Jews as a religious community rather than a people, and of Zionism as a colonial usurper rather than the national liberation movement that it is.

The U.S. government, Barnidge concludes, “should demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace and security as a Jewish state” and refuse to “press Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians unless and until that happens.”

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Peace Process, PLO, US-Israel relations, Yasir Arafat