Kristof Column Cites 1,000+ Rabbi Letter
Dec 14, 2015
In his column in Sunday's New York Times, Nicholas Kristof cites the rabbi letter organized by HIAS in his call not to let our fears override our values.
"There’s a profound human tendency, rooted in evolutionary biology, to “otherize” people who don’t belong to our race, our ethnic group, our religion. That’s particularly true when we’re scared. It’s difficult to conceive now that a 1944 poll found that 13 percent of Americans favored 'killing all Japanese,' and that the head of a United States government commission in 1945 urged 'the extermination of the Japanese in toto.' It’s true that terrorism in the 21st century is disproportionately rooted in the Islamic world. And it’s legitimate to criticize the violence, mistreatment of women or oppression of religious minorities that some Muslims justify by citing passages in the Quran. But let’s not stereotype 1.6 billion Muslims because of their faith. What counts most is not the content of holy books, but the content of our hearts," Kristof writes.
He goes on to cite the letter, coordinated by HIAS and signed by over 1,200 American rabbis, in support of continuing to welcome refugees to the United States. "More than 1,000 American rabbis have signed a joint letter welcoming refugees and noting a parallel to the late 1930s, when the United States barred most Jewish refugees," Kristoff notes. "The letter noted that refugees are fleeing persecution, not committing it. 'In 1939, our country could not tell the difference between an actual enemy and the victims of an enemy,' the rabbis wrote. 'In 2015, let us not make the same mistake.' It may be human nature to fear what we don’t understand, to allow apprehension to override compassion. But this is a time that tests our fundamental values, and let’s not surrender to base impulses."
Click here to read the full colmn, which includes an interactive quiz.