The son of Holocaust survivors, Harry Maryles tells stories of his father hiding out in underground bunkers and his mother living off food scraps in a Polish forest for years to avoid the clutches of Hitler’s henchmen.
So Maryles is in a unique position to push back against a rising narrative from those claiming Americans fearful of accepting Syrian refugees are repeating the “jingoistic” mistakes of a country that rejected Jewish asylum seekers prior to World War II.
“No Jew would have come in disguised as a peace-loving individual and then joined a sleeper cell and become a suicide bomber,” Maryles told FoxNews.com on Thursday. “It was a different situation. Now you have situations where [terrorists] will do anything to achieve their goals. And keeping out innocent people is part of the price you pay.”
“I don’t think it’s brain surgery. The Jewish refugees were not a security threat"
- Brooke Goldstein, human rights attorney and author
Maryles, 69, who is retired from a Chicago dental laboratory business, said he is “torn” when he sees the Syrian refugees who have fled their country’s civil war and the expanding ISIS caliphate.
“How could you not want to help?” Maryles said.
But Maryles also recognizes the risk that Islamists have infiltrated the refugee’s ranks, and he questions the wisdom of the Obama administration’s plan to shrink the vetting period from at least 18 months – while at the same time increasing the number of refugees accepted into the U.S. five-fold, to 10,000 in 2016.
“The problem is you now have a situation where people of similar backgrounds and similar looks can easily come in with these refugees and create the kind of problems that we saw in the Paris terror attacks,” Maryles said.
Criticism of those who wish to stop or slow the acceptance of Syrian refugees got a volume boost this week from a series of articles censuring the opposition. Dana Milbank wrote “a xenophobic bidding war” had broken out among presidential candidates who disagree with Obama’s policy in a Washington Post column on Monday. “It’s no exaggeration to call this un-American,” Milbank wrote. A Daily Kos headline on Tuesday blared “Replace ‘Syrian’ with ‘Jewish’ and we’re back to 1939.”
But that rhetoric ignores a serious problem with the comparison.
“I don’t think it’s brain surgery. The Jewish refugees were not a security threat,” human rights attorney and author Brooke Goldstein told FoxNews.com.
“The problem is not the American people are racist and mean,” she added. “The problem is the Obama administration is not taking this seriously. And now he’s threatening to veto any security checks. It’s really idiotic to the point of suicidal. He can’t even articulate the threat of Islamic terrorism.”
Anglican Bishop Julian Dobbs is the U.S. honorary director for Barnabas Aid USA, a relief organization that delivers aid to persecuted Christians, particularly those living in majority Muslim environments. Dobbs echoed the calls by some Republicans to specifically help the Syrian Christians, who are often unsafe even when living inside U.N. refugee camps. Dobbs said if there’s any comparison to be made between the Jewish people before the Second World War and the Syrian refugees, the comparison lies with the Syrian Christians.
“The facts on the ground are clear in that Christianity in the region is under huge threat,” Dobbs told FoxNews.com. “Even Christian leaders in Syria are talking about extermination. So the comparison therefore, when we use words like ‘annihilation,’ ‘extermination’ are very similar if not the same words used before the Second World War.”
Any emphasis on Christian refugees was rebuked by Obama on Tuesday during a press conference in the Philippines.
“When [presidential] candidates say, ‘We wouldn’t admit 3-year-old orphans’ – that’s political posturing,” Obama said. “When individuals say that we should have a religious test and that only Christians – proven Christians – should be admitted, that’s offensive and contrary to American values.”
But Goldstein charges those proclamations are nothing more than posturing on Obama’s part.
“If the Obama administration was so concerned with the 3-year-old Syrian child, what was he doing 2 ½ years ago when Assad was crossing the red line and using chemical weapons indiscriminately?” she said. “We’ve been seeing pictures of dead Syrian children for a long time.
“There’s no rush to fling open our borders. There are ways we can protect them. There are steps in-between. It’s not all or nothing.”