Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Two Perspectives on the Middle East Refugee Crisis

A cousin of mine, Morty,  who lives in Israel, and I have been discussing via email the migration of people from the Middle East (predominantly Syrian)  who have been pouring into Europe. The situation has reached crisis proportions as the countries  where they have entered can't accommodate further arrivals. Following is a dialog between Morty, and me, which shows different points of view regarding the plight of these refugees, and how and even whether it is comparable with that of other groups who have fled from their homelands in recent history.

Morty: Well, here they go again. I just heard Tom Tancredo (a former member of the House and 2008 candidate for the GOP nomination) on Fixed News say that Trump is the right guy because he will keep the Moslem refugee immigrants out of the States.
Now change the time to the 1930s and Moslem to Jew and what do you have.
Yes, I know that he is on the fringe of things which is why Fixed News trotted him out. But, I would bet that many of the bozos who support Trump think the same way.
Mexicans, Moslems, Chinese, Jews, what not. They are all the same.
And, things here are not better. The asshole who is Prime Minister has said that Israel is a small country and we don't have the money to help the refugees. But, we do have the billions to build a wall between us and Jordan.

Rick: Yet I wonder how desperate some of these "refugees" really are. After arriving in Southern Europe, they weren't satisfied just to be out of harm's way. Instead they went on to pick and choose the countries they wanted to migrate to, usually in Northern Europe, and then went there by any means necessary, including braking through security fences to the Channel Tunnel and  stowing away on trucks bound for England. So in effect many (most) of these people are economic migrants rather then political refugees. And now as it is, Hungary and parts of Germany are being overrun with migrants to the point it's getting more than they can handle. Is that their fault?

As for comparing the plight of Muslims now to Jewish refugees in the 1930's and Chinese immigrants too for that  matter, neither group turned into terrorists against the host countries and instead assimilated and became productive citizens, in stark contrast to Muslims  particularly North Africans in Europe. Likewise, America went out of its way to rescue and resettle Somalis beginning in the 1980's mainly the Mpls-St Paul area. And here is the thanks the U.S.  has gotten:The Twin Cities have an ISIS problem.  Not only that but Somalis in the U.S on welfare have complained because food banks don't offer halal selections. If observant American Jews who are getting government assistance are demanding kosher food, I'm not aware of it.  

Addendum: Here's another goody I forgot to include:Islamists in Germany trying to recruit young refugees.The fact that recruiters would even spend the time to make this effort indicates that they must have had success in their endeavors. Else why would they bother? In turn, that says a lot about at least some the migrants' leanings. I wouldn't look for a high assimilation rate among these people.

Morty: Yes, Rick, they are not so happy at getting out of places where their lives are really in danger and into a place like Greece. After all there is no possibility of work or any of the other things that makes life livable.

Only foolish people would not set their sights on someplace where work is available. And Germany is that place.

As to recruiting among the refugees, well what can I say. If you have young people who are alienated from their surrounding society, then they become fertile ground for this kind of behavior.

Or the Jewish thugs who fir bombed the house in Arab Jerusalem where the mother, father and one of their kids died from their burns. And, most likely their one surviving son will not survive.

Rick: The point about the migrants managing to arrive safely in Southern Europe is and then hightailing it for Northern Europe is more than just about jobs. It reflects their ruthlessness to enter countries like Germany and the UK by any means necessary endangering not just their own safety and welfare but that of others, e.g. users of the Channel Tunnel and the drivers of trucks in which migrants have stowed away. Further, one can only wonder whether  these  migrants upon arrival at their chosen countries will even try to assimilate into the respective cultures where they reside.

And as you probably know, Germany among other countries has been so overwhelmed by the flood of refugees that it's had to institute border controls (sound familiar?) to stop the influx. Yes, even the liberal EU countries have reached their breaking point on this issue. In short future migrants who may have been motivated to head north  by their predecessors' success in entering  those countries with an "accept first and verify later" policy have become victims of the earlier arrivals' success.

As for young refugees being recruited because they feel alienated, good grief these  people "just got off the boat" so to speak. How could they already be estranged? If they're being solicited by Islamists at reception centers, that must mean they've only been in their new country for a few days--or less.  And if they're in reception centers, that means that their not scrounging desperately on the streets as would happens to immigrants in less enlightened countries. Sounds more like a character issue.

How this recruitment activity for both the Islamists (who are probably living comfortably in the country they hate)  and the refugees themselves relates to the Jewish thugs who committed the vicious crimes that mentioned is unclear. 

Morty: I guess this is another area that we will continue to disagree on. The impact of being a refugee is a complicated one. And, oddly enough something that hasn't really been studied.

As to alienation, well imagine yourself as a 17, 18, 19 year old who has been uprooted from your home for whatever reason. How would you react?

Rick:  How would I react? Well, I'd like to think that I'd show gratitude to the country that gave me refuge and not join an organization that hates my rescuer.  BTW correct me if I'm wrong, but so far I have not heard about any kind of  expressions of thanks from the migrants to Germany or to the other countries that took them inor where they barged  in. 

Morty: I would suspect that most refugees do in fact express the gratitude. But, they aren't as sexy as those who turn radical.

Germany (at least West Germany) had a major refugee crisis after the Second World War. They had to absorb a few million German expellees. These were mostly Germans who had settled in conquered territory in Eastern Europe and after the defeat of the Nazis they were kicked out along with Germans who had lived in the areas for generations.

They had a very difficult time adjusting to life in West Germany and many became supporters of the Christian Democratic Party and neo-nazi groups.

So things change but then again they don't.

Rick:  I tried googling phrases like "Syrian refugees thank Germany" and   I came up with only one hit, which was a migrant who was thanking the UK, not Germany. So I don't know whether this fruitless search proves your point or mine.

As for returnees to West Germany having a hard time adjusting, the beat goes on. As you probably know former East Germans and East Europeans are much less receptive to the migrants than Western Europe. In Hungary's case, they want to keep the place a "Christian country". So all those decades under the atheist USSR never took in the local culture?  But then Russians have also regressed to religious belief as well..
Finally, I remember another group of boat people, the Vietnamese refugees who fled their country and were brought to the U.S. where they settled and successfully assimilated into American culture. They did not make demands along the way such as accommodations for language differences or special treatment for their religious beliefs.  Such is not the case for certain  ethnic groups in the U.S. and Europe respectively. 

The bottom line is that despite my misgivings,  I only hope that  I'm wrong  and that the boat people who crossed the Mediterranean  under perilous conditions into Europe will likewise make the effort to acculturate into the host countries that so generously have given them a new lease on life.