The response to the migration crisis is blinkered emoting

September 10, 2015 14:22

The pictures of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, whose drowned body was washed up on a Turkish beach after his Syrian Kurdish parents set out for Europe in a dinghy, produced an outpouring of sorrow and a clamour to "do something" to which politicians have been scrambling to respond.

It is very difficult for any diaspora Jew to deal rationally with Europe's migration crisis. Like many others, my own forbears migrated to Britain from eastern Europe at the turn of the last century. More subsequently fled to Britain during the Shoah. How could we possibly argue against welcoming this tidal wave of human misery?

Yet the arguments made by certain Jewish community leaders have left me uneasy. In particular, the comparison with the Kindertransport, when some 10,000 Jewish refugee children were brought to Britain from Nazi Europe, seemed particularly inappropriate.

The Kindertransport rescued children from almost certain murder by a regime aiming to kill them simply because they were Jews. Today's migration crisis is different. Many pouring into Europe are fleeing societies consumed by war or terror. However, even if they are not economic migrants, most are not fleeing for their lives. Aylan Kurdi's family did not journey from Syria but from Bodrum in Turkey, where they had already found a safe haven, because they wanted a better life in Canada.

The west-friendly Kurds are people we should support in our own national interest. But among fleeing Syrians are Isis supporters or other Islamists who pose a threat to Britain and Europe.

We should all heed the Biblical injunction to love the stranger because we were once strangers. But does that mean all strangers, including those who wish to do us harm? Does it mean throwing open the British border to the millions who may want to leave the myriad countries where conditions are hellish -- when Britain is already staggering under the weight of unprecedented immigration?

Can it really be part of our Jewish ethic to advocate measures which are likely to overwhelm and transform British and European society and culture, or encourage yet more to set off and drown in the Mediterranean? Some 11,ooo migrants poured into Germany on one day this week: more than the total number brought to the UK on the Kinderstransport. How is the British government going to make the invidious choice between the 20,000 it is to take from Syrian refugee camps and the millions who are to be left behind? This is not just a refugee crisis. It is part of a vast and unprecedented movement of peoples trying to migrate from south to north. It threatens to overwhelm a Europe whose chickens are coming home to roost. For years, the west has failed to acknowledge the civilisational threat represented by the convulsions in the Arab and Muslim world. Almost everything the west has done has made chaos, war, persecution, tyranny and terrorism more likely.

Among those parading their compassion for refugees as a badge of moral virtue, there is no stomach for the kind of boots-on-the-ground war necessary to stop Isis. And anyone who might suggest taking out the Iranian regime which is the real force behind Assad's mass slaughter would be damned as a warmonger.

Where are the tears over the Arab children whose bodies are strapped with explosives and turned into human bombs? Or African Christian girls sold into sex slavery? Who in Britain has rushed to offer homes to persecuted Somali Christians or Yazidis in Iraq? Kindness and compassion are moral responses. But selective and blinkered emoting seems more like a gesture designed to make us feel good about ourselves. In current circumstances, such public grandstanding is not just humbug but potentially lethal.

September 10, 2015 14:22

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