Jewish Involvement in Shaping U.S. Immigration Policy

After genuflecting before Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Mexico), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), spoke at the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights in Queens, New York on Saturday.

“Luis [Gutierrez],” Cantor said, “the leadership you’re providing through thick and thin right now as we try and navigate these very tough political times in choppy waters. My hat is off to you. I’m very grateful.”

Cantor compared the current immigration debate in the United States to the experience Jews have had for thousands of years.

“When I say ‘our people’ I mean our people do. And it is also testament to what the country is testament to but the way I look at it, as an American Jew, and it is different.  And I say that, because first of all, as a people for thousands and thousands of years didn’t belong anywhere. We didn’t have a homeland. A couple of thousands of years exiled from the land of the Israel,” Cantor said.

Cantor went further saying, “I imagine somewhere in the DNA it works on you and develops a sense of longing and so when you look at the history of this country–this country was the first country to do what Luis Gutierrez said yesterday when he said this country was always there with a helping hand. This country, and first by President George Washington, took a stand to say the Jews will be welcomed–will be welcomed as citizens–full citizens, equal citizens–of this country.”

After reading Kevin MacDonald’s The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements, I believe an honest appraisal of the immigration mess we find ourselves in today — particularly the events that led up to the 1965 Immigration Act — cannot be accomplishd without accounting for the dynamics of MacDonald’s thesis, particularly the evidence he puts together in “Jewish Involvement in Shaping US Immigration Policy” (Ch. 7 of the book which is available for free here.) Some extended quotes from this chapter of MacDonald’s book:

Pp. 240-1:

Immigration policy is a paradigmatic example of conflicts of interest between ethnic groups because immigration policy determines the future demographic composition of the nation. Ethnic groups unable to influence immigration policy in their own interests will eventually be displaced by groups able to accomplish this goal. Immigration policy is thus of fundamental interest to an evolutionist…

The  Jewish  involvement  in  influencing  immigration  policy  in  the  United States  is  especially  noteworthy  as  an  aspect  of  ethnic  conflict.  Jewish  involvement in influencing immigration policy has had certain unique qualities that  have  distinguished  Jewish  interests  from  the  interests  of  other  groups favoring  liberal  immigration  policies.  Throughout  much  of  the  period  from 1881  to  1965,  one  Jewish  interest  in  liberal  immigration  policies  stemmed from a desire to provide a sanctuary for Jews fleeing from anti-Semitic persecutions  in  Europe  and  elsewhere.  Anti-Semitic  persecutions  have  been  a recurrent  phenomenon  in  the  modern  world  beginning  with  the  Russian pogroms of 1881 and continuing into the post–World War II era in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. As a result, liberal immigration has been a Jewish interest because “survival often dictated that Jews seek refuge in other lands” (Cohen 1972, 341). For a similar reason, Jews have consistently advocated an internationalist  foreign  policy  because  “an  internationally-minded  America was likely to be more sensitive to the problems of foreign Jewries” (p. 342).

There  is  also  evidence  that  Jews,  much  more  than  any  other  European-derived  ethnic  group  in  the  United  States,  have  viewed  liberal  immigration policies as a mechanism of ensuring that the United States would be a pluralistic rather than a unitary, homogeneous society (e.g., Cohen 1972). Pluralism serves  both  internal  (within-group)  and  external  (between-group)  Jewish interests.  Pluralism  serves  internal  Jewish  interests  because  it  legitimates  the internal  Jewish  interest  in  rationalizing  and  openly  advocating  an  interest  in overt rather than semi-cryptic Jewish group commitment and nonassimilation, what  Howard  Sachar  (1992,  427)  terms  its  function  in  “legitimizing  the preservation  of  a  minority  culture  in  the  midst  of  a  majority’s  host  society.” Both  Neusner  (1993)  and  Ellman  (1987)  suggest  that  the  increased  sense  of ethnic  consciousness  seen  in  Jewish  circles  recently  has  been  influenced  by this  general  movement  within  American  society  toward  the  legitimization  of cultural pluralism and minority group ethnocentrism. This trend toward overt rather than the semi-cryptic forms that have characterized Judaism in twenti-eth-century Western societies is viewed by many as critical to the continuity of Judaism  (e.g.,  Abrams  1997;  Dershowitz  1997;  see  SAID,  Ch.  8).

 P. 242:

Ethnic and religious pluralism also serves external Jewish interests because Jews become just one of many ethnic groups. This results in the diffusion of political and cultural influence among the various ethnic and religious groups, and it becomes difficult or impossible to develop unified, cohesive groups of gentiles united in their opposition to Judaism. Historically, major anti-Semitic movements  have  tended  to  erupt  in  societies  that  have  been,  apart  from  the Jews,  religiously  or  ethnically  homogeneous  (see  SAID).  Conversely,  one reason for the relative lack of anti-Semitism in the United States compared to Europe was that “Jews did not stand out as a solitary group of [religious] non-conformists” (Higham 1984, 156). Although ethnic and cultural pluralism are certainly not guaranteed to satisfy Jewish interests (see Ch. 8), it is nonetheless  the  case  that  ethnically  and  religiously  pluralistic  societies  have  been perceived by Jews as more likely to satisfy Jewish interests than are societies characterized by ethnic and religious homogeneity among gentiles…

Indeed, at a basic level, the motivation for all the Jewish political and intellectual activity reviewed throughout this volume is intimately linked to fears of anti-Semitism. Svonkin (1997, 8ff) shows that a sense of   “uneasiness” and insecurity pervaded American Jewry in the wake of World War II even in the face  of  evidence  that  anti-Semitism  had  declined  to  the  point  that  it  had become a marginal phenomenon. As a direct result, “The primary objective of the  Jewish  intergroup  relations  agencies  [i.e.,  the  American Jewish Committee,  the American Jewish Congress, and the ADL] after 1945 was . . . to prevent the emergence of an anti-Semitic reactionary mass movement in the United States” (Svonkin 1997, 8). 

Writing in the 1970s, Isaacs (1974, 14ff) describes the pervasive insecurity of American Jews and their hypersensitivity to anything that might be deemed anti-Semitic. Interviewing “noted public men” on the subject of anti-Semitism in the early 1970s, Isaacs asked, “Do you think it could happen here?” “Never was  it  necessary  to  define  ‘it.’  In  almost  every  case,  the  reply  was  approxi-mately the same: ‘If you know history at all, you have to presume not that it could happen, but that it probably will,’ or ‘It’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of  when’     (p.  15).  Isaacs,  correctly  in  my  view,  attributes  the  intensity  of Jewish  involvement  in  politics  to  this fear  of anti-Semitism. Jewish activism on immigration is merely one strand of a multipronged movement directed at preventing the development of a mass movement of anti-Semitism in Western societies.

P. 245, where the immigration stances of jewish neoconservatives (e.g., the likes of Eric Cantor) is discussed:

Because  liberal  immigration  policies  are  a  vital  Jewish  interest,  it  is  not surprising  that  support  for  liberal  immigration  policies  spans  the  Jewish political spectrum. We have seen that Sidney Hook, who along with the other New York Intellectuals may be viewed as an intellectual precursor of neoconservatism, identified democracy with the equality of differences and with the maximization  of  cultural  diversity  (see  Ch.  6).  Neoconservatives  have  been strong advocates of liberal immigration policies, and there has been a conflict between  predominantly  Jewish  neoconservatives  and  predominantly  gentile paleoconservatives over the issue of Third World immigration into the United States.  Neoconservatives  Norman  Podhoretz  and  Richard  John  Neuhaus reacted  very  negatively  to  an  article  by  a  paleo-Conservative  concerned  that such immigration would eventually lead to the United States being dominated by such immigrants (see Judis 1990, 33). Other examples are neoconservatives Julian Simon (1990) and Ben Wattenberg (1991) both of whom advocate very high  levels  of  immigration  from  all  parts  of  the  world,  so  that  the  United States will become what Wattenberg describes as the world’s first “Universal Nation.” Based on recent data, Fetzer (1996) reports that Jews remain far more favorable to immigration to the United States than any other ethnic group or religion.

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