Obama defended his policy of admitting Syrians into the US saying, “In the Syrian seeking refuge today, we should see the Jewish refugee of World War II.”
By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News
President Barack Obama on Tuesday likened Syrians fleeing their war-torn country to Jews fleeing the Holocaust during World War II.
Addressing 31 petitioners seeking United States Citizenship during a naturalization ceremony held at the National Archive in Washington, DC, Obama defended his policy of admitting Syrian refugees into the US, which has recently come under fire in wake of the San Bernardino terror attack and fear in the US of a mounting Islamic terror threat.
Romanticizing the immigrant’s story and saying the first pilgrims to America were refugees fleeing religious persecution, he said that immigration to the US was an embodiment of the American dream, while the “biggest irony of course is that those who betrayed these values were themselves the children of immigrants. How quickly we forget.”
“In the Mexican immigrant today, we see the Catholic immigrant of a century ago. In the Syrian seeking refuge today, we should see the Jewish refugee of World War II. In these new Americans, we see our own American stories – our parents, our grandparents, our aunts, our uncles, our cousins who packed up what they could and scraped together what they had. And their paperwork wasn’t always in order. And they set out for a place that was more than just a piece of land, but an idea,” Obama said.
This analogy may not serve Obama’s cause, as most Jews seeking asylum in the US during the Holocaust were not admitted, and the government enacted strict quotas on Jewish immigration during a time they most needed it.
One of the most notorious such incidents was that of the St. Louis, a German ocean liner that sailed to Cuba and the US in 1939 with 908 Jewish refugees from Germany. They were denied entry into the US, and continued to wander until they were finally accepted in various European countries, which were later overrun by the Nazis.
Historians have estimated that, after their return to Europe, approximately a quarter of the ship’s passengers died in death camps.
Only after the the defeat of Nazi Germany did the US open its gates to refugees.