Mass Moslem immigration into America combined with world-wide Moslem Jew-hatred poses an unprecedented threat to American Jews—a "perfect storm" that is forcing at least some Jews into an agonizing re-appraisal of their traditional support for open immigration. So says Stephen Steinlight in his hard-hitting essay, "High Noon to Midnight: Why Current Immigration Policy Dooms American Jewry," published by the Center for Immigration Studies. A former director of national affairs at the American Jewish Committee and now an outspoken advocate of immigration reform, Steinlight tells his fellow Jews that they, along with the rest of America, face a momentous choice. If they turn away from their extreme immigration liberalism and help move America toward sensible immigration restrictions, the growth of the Moslem community in this country can be slowed substantially and even stopped, and a decent existence for the Jews themselves can be preserved. But if Jews and others continue in their embrace of open borders, in thirty years time the Jews will find themselves a besieged and powerless minority in an Islamic-dominated, anti-Semitic America.
That's what Steinlight is telling them. But will they listen? As he explains it, immigration to the U.S. in the early 20th century was literally a life or death matter for Jews—life for the immigrants, and death for those who stayed behind in Europe or who were closed out of America by the restrictive immigration policies of the 1920s and 1930s. For Jews, he says:
"(T)he immigration debate pits the heart against the head. In their gut, many feel that substantially reducing immigration betrays the legacy of their parents and grandparents. But a growing number believes that maintaining this policy betrays their children and grandchildren. The danger arises because mass immigration means importing mass anti-Semitism.... "
Yet, despite the dangers Moslem immigration poses to their security and their whole way of life, Jews have for the most part maintained their support for open immigration, and Steinlight by the end of his article does not seem very hopeful that they will change their minds—or at least that they will do so before it's too late to avoid disaster.
Loyalty to their ancestors' immigration "legacy" hardly seems a sufficient explanation for Jews' adherence to a policy that, as Steinlight puts it, spells the ultimate eclipse and ruin of Jewish life in this country, not to mention the ruin of America itself. After all, Jews in many cases betray without hesitation their grandparents' orthodox religious beliefs, and in other cases their grandparents' socialism, so why should their grandparents' immigrant history be so sacred to them? If we are to have any chance of converting the Jews from their open borders ideology, we must understand their own reasons for believing in it. From the following discussion, two basic perspectives on this problem will emerge, one pessimistic, the other optimistic.
The real object of Jewish fears
First of all, as crazy as it may sound, there is something that many American Jews fear in their heart of hearts even more than they fear Moslem anti-Semitism, and that is white Christian anti-Semitism. Steinlight himself pointed to this phenomenon at a recent panel discussion hosted by the Center for Immigration Studies:
"Every high profile Jewish institution, whether it's a national organization or a major synagogue, is surrounded by concrete barriers to prevent car bombs exploding too close to the buildings. If you go through the lobbies into those buildings you have to pass metal detectors and double-doors of bulletproof glass. You are then frisked by security guards, mostly retired New York City police or Israeli agents, and then are scanned again with metal detectors.
"What is truly comic about this—were it not an instance in the theatre of the absurd, and were it not so appalling an indication of the kind of mass denial that is still governing major American Jewish organizations, including the one I used to work for that's currently meeting across the street—is that the staffs of these organizations pass the car bomb barriers, go through the double bulletproof glass lobbies, get frisked, then go upstairs into their offices and spend their days talking about the threats posed by evangelical Christians...."
Jews' risible obsession with non-existent evangelical Protestant anti-Semites, combined with their obliviousness to actual mass murdering Islamist anti-Semites (whom, moreover, the Jews' favored immigration policies have allowed into this country) is an amazing phenomenon that we should not dismiss as simply a bizarre ethnic idiosyncrasy. It expresses, rather, a central preoccupation of a significant number of Jews, namely their corrosive apprehension of what they think the goyim might one day do to them—a fear they entertain despite the fact that, apart from some social exclusions and other ethnic prejudices that existed up to the end of World War II, Jews have never faced serious anti-Semitism from the white Christian majority in this country.
Just the other week I was telling a secular, leftist Jew of my acquaintance, a man in his late sixties, about my idea (which I've proposed at FrontPage Magazine) that the only way to make ourselves safe from the specter of domestic Moslem terrorism is to deport all jihad-supporting Moslems from this country. He replied with emotion that if America deported Moslem fundamentalists, it would immediately start doing the same thing to Jews as well. "It's frightening, it's scary," he said heatedly, as if the Jews were already on the verge of being rounded up. In the eyes of this normally phlegmatic and easy-going man, America is just a shout away from the mass persecution, detention, and even physical expulsion of Jews. Given the wildly overwrought suspicions that some Jews harbor about the American Christian majority who are in fact the Jews' best friends in the world, it is not surprising that these Jews look at mass Third-World and Moslem immigration, not as a danger to themselves, but as the ultimate guarantor of their own safety, hoping that in a racially diversified, de-Christianized America, the waning majority culture will lack the power, even if it still has the desire, to persecute Jews.
The self-protective instinct to divide and weaken a potentially oppressive majority population may have served Jews well at certain times and places in the past when they truly were threatened. Under current circumstances—in America, the most philo-Semitic nation in the history of the world—it both morally wrong and suicidal. Not only are the open-borders Jews urging policies harmful to America's majority population, but, by doing so, they are surely triggering previously non-existent anti-Jewish feelings among them. The tragedy is that once a collective thought pattern gets deeply ingrained, as is the Jews' historically understandable fear of gentiles, it takes on a life of its own and becomes immune to evidence and reason.
This element of the Jewish psyche is further illumined by Norman Podhoretz in his memoir, My Love Affair with America:
"[M]y own view is that what had befallen the Jews of Europe inculcated a subliminal lesson. . . . The lesson was that anti-Semitism, even the relatively harmless genteel variety that enforced quotas against Jewish students or kept their parents from joining fashionable clubs or getting jobs in prestigious Wall Street law firms, could end in mass murder." [Emphasis added.]
While the idea Podhoretz expresses here is certainly familiar, it is familiar more as a parody of Jewish fears than as something Jews themselves have openly stated. For years, it's been a running joke among traditionalist conservatives, including those of Jewish background such as myself (and there are more right-wing Jews than people realize) that "any criticism of Jews is equated with Auschwitz." The complaint, I confess, had always seemed a just a tad hyperbolic. But if Podhoretz's portrayal of Jews' beliefs is correct, then the old parody, "Any criticism of Jews is a potential Auschwitz," turns out to be what the Jewish community has believed all along. What this means is that in the minds of Jews, any desire on the part of gentiles to maintain an all-gentile country club, or any statement by a Christian, no matter how mild and civilized, that shows any concern about any aspects of the cultural and political influence of secular Jews in American life, is an expression of anti-Jewish bigotry that could easily lead to mass extermination, and therefore it must be ruthlessly suppressed.
Please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying, as today's anti-Semites are constantly saying, that concerns about anti-Semitism are nothing but political correctness. Though it is still largely a fringe phenomenon, anti-Semitism and Israel-hatred in today's America are terribly real, having grown by leaps and bounds in some parts of the political spectrum since 9/11, as I have discussed at length at FrontPage Magazine (see here and here) and at my website, View from the Right (see here and here). Yet we must also note a tendency on the part of more than a few Jews to decry as anti-Semitic virtually any rational criticism of Jews, or any normal manifestations of gentile ethnocentrism, or even any strong expression of Christian religious belief. Think of the wild charges that were leveled against Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" by such prominent Jewish commentators as Charles Krauthammer, who characterized the movie as "a singular act of interreligious aggression ... spectacularly vicious ... the pre-Vatican II story of the villainous Jews," and William Safire, who said that audiences would leave the theater with no other thought than to look for Jews to punish for the death of Jesus. There was also the disturbing fact that Commentary, which in the past had always defended Christians and Christianity from false charges of anti-Semitism, approvingly reviewed James Carroll's virulently anti-Christian book, Constantine's Sword, which argues that the Christian religion is inherently anti-Semitic and the ultimate cause of the Nazi Holocaust.
The significance of the Jewish belief in a lurking anti-Semitism among white Christians is made clearer by another passage in My Love Affair With America:
"Acting on the principle that 'all bigotry is indivisible,' Jewish organizations such as the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League, whose purpose was to defend Jews against discrimination and defamation, joined enthusiastically in the civil-rights movement, of which individual Jews were for a long time leaders and funders."
The principle that all bigotry is indivisible implies that all manifestations of ingroup/outgroup feeling (if we're speaking about the feelings of a gentile majority ingroup, that is) are essentially the same—and equally wrong. It says that if you're against one outgroup, you're against all outgroups. This denies the important truth that some outgroups (e.g., Mideastern Moslem fundamentalists) are much more different from the ingroup (e.g. America's Anglo-Protestant majority culture), and hence much less assimilable, and hence more legitimately excluded, than other outgroups (e.g., Italian Catholics or Ashkenazi Jews). The belief in the indivisibility of all bigotry makes it impossible to distinguish between degrees of bigotry or ethnocentrism. It makes it impossible to distinguish between immoral bigotry, meaning the desire to hurt some other group, and the legitimate defense of one's own people, their identity, and their interests. To erase such distinctions is the essence of political correctness, the reduction of all moral questions to a choice between "inclusion" and "hate."
Now, when Jews put together the idea that "all bigotry is indivisible," with the idea that "any social prejudice or exclusion directed against Jews leads potentially to Auschwitz," they must reach the conclusion that any exclusion of any minority group, no matter how alien it may be to the host society, is a potential Auschwitz.
So there it is. We have identified the core assumption that makes many liberal and neoconservative Jews keep pushing relentlessly for mass immigration, even the mass immigration of their mortal enemies. As these Jews see it, any immigration restrictions against Moslems would release a latent ethnocentrism in the white American majority that would then turn instantly against the Jews. To state this thought process in the baldest terms, these Jews believe that if philo-Semitic white gentiles exclude Jew-hating Moslems from America, it would lead those same gentiles to commit another Jewish Holocaust.
Even if they don't take it to the absurd point of envisioning a Jewish Holocaust or some other anti-Jewish persecution in this country, various Jewish writers and spokesmen have continued to express a deeply suspicious attitude towards white Christian America. In the cover article of the November 1999 issue of Commentary, entitled "California and the End of White America," Ron Unz predicted that if the current non-European immigrants fail to assimilate, the danger will not be an uprising of unassimilated immigrant cultures, but an eruption of white nationalism. "[W]e face the very real threat of future movements along the lines of Proposition 187, each worse than the last, and on a national scale," Unz wrote. "There are few forces that could so easily break America as the coming of white nationalism." [Emphasis added.] Amazing. Multiculturalism and minority group-rights movements are tearing apart America's once unitary, individual-rights-based polity, as Commentary itself has been lamenting for years, while America's declining white majority has been reacting with what can only be called pusillanimous passivity in the face of this systematic attack on their country.
But now it turns out that what Commentary most fears is not the minority group-rights movement, but any possible resistance by white Americans to it, a resistance Commentary demonizes as "white nationalism." In other words, open-borders Jews fear a totally non-existent white defense of America more than they fear the actual realities of mass legal and illegal immigration, multiculturalism, Mexican irredentism, Moslem jihadism, and all the rest of the forces that are threatening our country. For anyone who shares this view, it follows that the quicker America's white majority is reduced to a minority by continued mass immigration, and the quicker America's majority culture is pushed aside by immigrant cultures, the better off America will be.
A more hopeful view
While the disturbing attitudes I have been describing constitute a definite strand in the American Jewish sensibility, as well in the sensibility of liberals generally, I find it hard to believe that most Jews or even most politically active Jews are so paranoid about white gentiles' potential for committing anti-Jewish oppression that they are driven to the insane expedient of supporting mass Moslem immigration in order to forestall that oppression. There is a more moderate—and more hopeful—way of explaining the Jews' attachment to Third-World immigration.
The Jewish experience in the modern world could be understood as a series of attempts by Jews to free themselves from the historic burden of Jewishness, the fierce social disabilities that had been imposed on them for centuries. As Paul Johnson writes in his History of the Jews, the Jewish Communists of the 19th century ("non-Jewish Jews," as he calls them) saw in Communism the end of national and ethnic identities for all mankind, and thus the end of the Jewish ethnic identity, and thus the liberation of the Jews from the age-old curse of anti-Jewish prejudice. To seek to overturn entire societies in order to get rid of one's own ethnic identity may seem a rather drastic approach to solving the Jewish problem, yet it reflects, in a uniquely exacerbated and destructive form, Jews' recurrent pattern of forming some global ideology for reasons relating to their particular situation as Jews. (Let us note that this tendency, while it can take negative forms as in the current example, is natural for a people whose tribal history and beliefs became the basis for all of Western civilization.)
In America, Jews discovered a more reasonable approach to the Jewish problem: liberal individualism. Under liberal individualism, only the individual and his rights matter and each person's ethnicity is irrelevant, or, in any case, as irrelevant as he wants it to be. As Milton Gordon wrote in his important 1964 book Assimilation in American Life, mid-twentieth century American society combined cultural assimilation, in which people of all backgrounds participate as individuals in a common public culture (the workplace, the schools, political life and so on), with structural pluralism, in which people tend to organize their residential patterns and social and religious lives along ethnic lines. This unique American arrangement allowed Jews a measure of social belonging, economic and professional success, and "at-home-ness" that they had not experienced since the destruction of the Second Temple, or perhaps ever in their history.
But starting in the 1960s, Jews, and liberals generally, took the good idea of liberal individualism too far. The very idea of a common culture, which they had previously seen as the pathway to success and belonging in America, started to seem discriminatory to them, since it implied that some peoples and cultures could fit into the common culture while others couldn't. A common culture also implied the existence of common standards of behavior, derived from America's declining WASP majority, to which people were expected to conform; and Jews in particular, after having eagerly adopted those standards in previous generations, began, in the liberatory afflatus of the Sixties, to find them stifling. Jews and other liberals thus turned from the moderate tolerance of mid-twentieth century America to what might be called tolerance absolutism, an attitude that delegitimized any notion of a common American culture or moral tradition (other than the tradition of liberalism itself), because shared cultural allegiances and moral norms would place limits on the individual self or the ethnic group.
This radicalized liberalism made Jews feel even safer—and freer to express themselves as Jews—than before. Having realized the model of "pure-non-discrimination-and-individual-rights-without-a-majority-culture" as the very basis of their unprecedented success, freedom, and happiness in America, Jews saw that model as not only advantageous to themselves personally, but as advantageous to everyone—indeed, as the highest political truth. It didn't occur to them that the radical individualist model worked so well for them because they are a uniquely high-achieving people operating in a still intact Western society. It didn't occur to them that the model might not work so well for less capable or less assimilable people in a society without a cohesive common culture, such as America was now becoming due to the tolerance absolutism that was supported by the Jews themselves. It didn't occur to them that both the intactness and the liberalism of the society would be threatened if the liberalism were taken too far.
Their belief that radical individualism is true for all mankind is thus for liberal secular Jews a crux of faith, an emotional prop to make sense of the world, and a key component of their identity as a people. More than any pragmatic calculus, it is the reason they bitterly resent any criticism of the liberal ideology and voraciously crave attempts to vindicate it, whether by assimilating Third-World immigrants, democratizing Moslem countries, or liquidating traditional values founded upon the restraint of individual desire. (Consider, for example, the Jewish community's extraordinary degree of support for homosexual marriage, far more extensive than that of any other ethnic or religious group—a uniquely ironic outcome for the first major people in history who saw homosexuality as an abomination to God.)
What the Jews need to see—what they can't help but see under the encroaching reality of jihad in America—is that, like any good idea, the good idea of non-discrimination can be carried too far. The moderate non-discrimination that allowed Jews to thrive in America did not have to be taken to the point of absolute non-discrimination, which required us to open our borders and our culture to unassimilable and hostile aliens, which in turn must result in the disarming and destruction of the society itself.
Notwithstanding the horrific problems created by the open-immigration ideology, I call this the optimistic view of Jewish support for open immigration because it assumes, not an endemic Jewish oppositionalism to America's majority culture, but a correctable misperception stemming from Jews' unique history. Having experienced the liberal paradigm of individual rights and non-discrimination as the recipe for their own earthly salvation after centuries of misery and persecution, Jews have, understandably though mistakenly, carried that ideology to an extreme where it threatens the very country that provided the Jews those protections and benefits in the first place. This is so patently irrational from the point of view of the Jews' own self-interest that they cannot help but eventually see it, if it is clearly and firmly pointed out to them.
No permanent victory
So, while Stephen Steinlight is to be applauded for his efforts to convert his fellow Jews to a sane immigration policy, he needs to recognize that they are bound to their belief in open borders by a larger set of emotional and political attachments than a reluctance to "betray their grandparents." He also needs to recognize that even if, under the pressure of immediate fears of Islamism in America, Jews back off from their open borders ideology, their conversion is unlikely to be very deep. A full and principled abandonment of modern liberalism by liberals and especially by Jews is not to be expected. Just as the Israelis will fight remorselessly against the Arabs when absolutely necessary, and then, as soon as the fighting briefly subsides, instantly turn back once again to the utopian hopes of the "peace-process," American Jews in the face of an imminent Islamist threat may support some kind of tightening of immigration laws, only to revert to their accustomed liberalism the moment that the immediate sense of intolerable danger is past. It is unrealistic to expect any final victory in this area. Liberalism is the organizing ideology of modern society, but for secular Jews (and the great majority of American Jews are essentially secular), it is a sacred trust toward which they feel the same zealous devotion that their religious brethren feel toward their covenant with God.
Lawrence Auster is the author of Erasing America: The Politics of the Borderless Nation and runs the weblog View from the Right.