Jewish Involvement in Contemporary Refugee and Migrant Organizations — Part One

“The Tree of Life Synagogue victims died so that refugees could live.”
Rob Eshman, Jewish Journal

We seek advantage through our dead. We make our dead your problem. The meaning we find in our deceased we find as a courtesy to you, to help you, to change your societies for the “better.””
David Cole, Takimag —


Refugee and asylum legislation is now a key policy area for many major immigrant-receiving countries. The UN Refugee Agency estimates there are currently 28.5 million refugees and asylum seekers worldwide, with most originating in South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Syria. The world’s largest refugee hosting countries are located near the epicenters of those countries experiencing difficulties, and include Turkey (3.5 million), Uganda (1.4 million), Pakistan (1.4 million), Lebanon (1 million), and the Islamic Republic of Iran (979,400). More incongruous, however, is the fact refugee and asylum populations from these same troubled areas have exploded in the West, in countries both geographically and culturally very distant from exporting nations. Since 1990, the new refugee population of Austria has climbed from 34,948 to 115,197; in Belgium from 25,911 to 42,128; in Finland from 2,348 to 20,713; in France from 193,000 to 337,143; in Germany from 816,000 to 970,302; in Ireland from 360 to 6,324; in Italy from 10,840 to 167,260; in Luxembourg from 687 to 1,995; in the Netherlands from 17,337 to 103,818; in Norway from 19,581 to 59,160; in Sweden from 109,663 to 240,889; in Switzerland from 40,943 to 92,995; and in the United Kingdom from 43,632 to 121,766. Increased lobbying on behalf of refugees, and increased quotas for refugee admissions, are now a very significant part of the West’s overall approach to migration. The only significant current exceptions to these trends are Hungary, where the number of new refugees has dropped from 45,123 to 5,641, and the United States and Canada, both of which were home in 2017 to roughly half the number of new refugees they hosted in 1990.

In the United States, the lower figures can be attributed to clauses within the Refugee Act of 1980, which both defined a refugee and gave the President (in consultation with Congress) the power to determine the number of refugees accepted to the United States each year. That figure currently stands at 45,000. The history of the Refugee Act can be traced to the 1975 State Department, where Lionel Rosenblatt, a Jewish diplomat and future President of Refugees International, was working on persuading Ted Kennedy to back legislation providing a visa program for refugees from Indochina in the wake of the Vietnam War and mass executions in Cambodia. Stephen Young, then a recently qualified D.C. lawyer who worked with Rosenblatt, recalled that “In 1975, no one had any claim to enter the U.S. as a refugee,” though, since the introduction of the 1952 McCarran-Walter Act, certain foreign aliens could be “paroled” into the country at the discretion of the Attorney General. In 1975 alone, Rosenblatt helped relocate approximately 140,000 Indochinese to the United States by working within the existing structure.

As the number of claims under McCarran-Walter increased, decision-making power was increasingly dispersed to the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, and International Law, then chaired (1967–1979) by Jewish Democrat Joshua Eilberg. As figures like Rosenblatt and Eilberg began agitating for a more fluid yet formal legislative approach to the refugee question, Young recalls one conversation where Kennedy informed Rosenblatt he would only be willing to back legislation that would accept a maximum of 150,000 Indochinese refugees. Kennedy was presumably only too aware that both Congress and the American public were opposed to the acceptance of significant numbers of Indochinese migrants. In the final event, however, the Refugee Act, drafted by Jewish Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman and given a public face by Ted Kennedy — the same Ted Kennedy who gave a public face to the 1965 immigration act — provided visas for more than 1.7 million Indochinese in the period between 1980 and 1989.

In July 2018, Holtzman penned a scathing letter of resignation from her then role at the Department of Homeland Security, expressing disgust with the immigration, refugee, and asylum policies of Donald Trump, and claiming, quite contrary to all available evidence, that the United States in 1980 had “welcomed refugees” and had “readily accepted and absorbed” them. In reality, in those areas where they settled, Indochinese refugees were a significant drain on welfare and other forms of public assistance, barely assimilated, and “overloaded the public schools and medical facilities and were blamed for a rise in the rate of tuberculosis and other diseases.”[1]

The conspicuous presence of influential Jewish diplomats and politicians in the formulation of the Refugee Act of 1980, together with the obvious dissonance between Elizabeth Holtzman’s presentation of the Act and the reality of it’s impact, should be contextualized within the question of ethnic conflict in immigration policy more generally. In particular, it should be contextualized within Kevin MacDonald’s discussion of Jewish involvement in shaping U.S. immigration policy, in the course of which MacDonald concludes that “Jewish organizations have uniformly advocated high levels of immigration of all racial and ethnic groups into Western societies and have also advocated a multicultural model for these societies.”[2] The posited reasons for this uniformity include the historical Jewish interest in securing immigration rights for Jews, and the fact that pluralism is conducive to increased feelings of Jewish security — a state of affairs in which Jews become just one among many ethnic groups instead of a sole outgroup in a predominantly White, Christian nation. The theory allows for exceptions to the rule, in cases where Jewish interests are interpreted differently by a minority of Jews. Further, Jewish success in advancing pluralistic goals are said to be rooted in a number of Jewish traits, especially high verbal intelligence and a tendency toward in-group networking. This theoretical framework would seem to predict that Jews would be overrepresented in positions of influence within contemporary refugee, asylum, and similar pro-immigration or “immigrants rights” organizations. The following study of a number of such organizations strongly confirms all aspects of MacDonald’s theoretical framework, and offers a rejoinder to some recent criticisms of it.

Theoretical Issues.

Perhaps the most high-profile recent criticism of MacDonald’s theory of Jewish involvement in shaping U.S. immigration policy is that of Nathan Cofnas, a graduate student in the philosophy of biology at the University of Oxford. Cofnas offers an alternative theory in the form of his “default hypothesis.” In his own summary of the default hypothesis, Cofnas states: “Because of their above average intelligence and concentration in influential urban areas, Jews will be overrepresented in all intellectual movements and activities that are not overtly anti-Semitic.” As such, while Jews may be overrepresented in pro-immigration, pro-pluralism organizations and movements, the default hypothesis insists that they will also be overrepresented in anti-immigration or restrictionist movements (that are not anti-Semitic) also. There is an inherent implication that these overrepresentations will be, more or less, to the same degree.

Before moving to a discussion of findings in relation to Jewish involvement in contemporary refugee and migrant organizations, it is first necessary to test the default hypothesis by examining the scale and nature of Jewish involvement in contemporary anti-immigration organizations that are not anti-Semitic. To date, the only evidence offered by Cofnas in relation to such a test is the list of scheduled speakers at a single 1994 American Renaissance conference (where four of the ten speakers were Jewish).[3] While an interesting, if perfectly explicable, statistic, when compared with the extensive discussion of Jewish involvement in shaping U.S. immigration policy before 1965, and the broader contemporary context of widespread and intensive Jewish activism on behalf of pro-pluralist, pro-immigration causes, Cofnas’s riposte can only be described, kindly, as entirely inadequate. For the purposes of this study, the senior staff directories of the three most prominent anti-immigration think tanks currently in operation in United States were consulted. The three main anti-immigration organizations are the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), NumbersUSA, and Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). In the following the thumbnail sketches of these organizations was provided by a long-time activist against immigration with insider’s insight; figures for Jewish representation are mine.

FAIR: FAIR has been described by former board members as “Dan Stein’s 401(k) plan.” It scarfs up most of the immigration patriot money available, especially from timid Establishment foundations, does essentially nothing and spends a lot of its time undercutting and blocking potential rivals. Stein has been running FAIR since 1988, i.e. has presided over a period of continuous defeats for the immigration patriot movement. Activists seriously debate whether he is a mole.

At FAIR, four of 52 senior staff members are Jewish, including President Dan Stein, Media Director Ira Mehlman, and Board members Sarah G. Epstein and Paul Nachman. This is a Jewish representation of approximately 7.7%. Across all three major anti-immigration organizations, Jews occupy 5.13% of senior roles. This is in fact a generous figure to settle on as an approximate broader working figure, because Jews were totally absent from the senior levels of every smaller organization consulted.[4]

CIS: The CIS does a lot of worthy studies, but is determinedly PC, presumably to maintain viability in the MSM/ Beltway, which limits its ability to appeal to a wider audience. The $PLC named it a Hate Group anyway a couple of years ago (as was FAIR, for no apparent reason), after which its main spokesman, Mark Krikorian, has been a little more daring, especially on twitter. Senior positions at CIS are listed in Center Staff, Board of Directors, and Center Fellows, totaling 37 individuals. Of these individuals, two are Jewish: Chief Litigation Counsel Julie Axelrod and Senior Policy Analyst Stephen Steinlight, although Mark Krikorian is their main public spokesperson. This is a Jewish representation of 5.41%.

NumbersUSA: NumbersUSA is a worthy organization, and its Congressional Grade card system excellent. However, its founder ,Roy Beck, is apparently planning to retire, so the future is uncertain. There are no Jewish members of staff listed at NumbersUSA. A But we will assume that Jews have an average representation in the anti-immigrant politics of around 5%.

Given that the Jewish proportion of the population of the United States is assumed to be around 2.2-2.5%, the six individual Jews at CIS and FAIR do technically amount to an overrepresentation at the top level, albeit rather modest in light of the representation of Jews active in legal and associated professions more generally, not to mention Cofnas’s flamboyant panegyric to Jewish intellectual and organizational talent. Taking into account an allowance for any such Jewish representation in anti-immigration politics on the grounds of alternative perceptions of specifically Jewish interests, discussed in the MacDonald thesis, a search was conducted on commentary on immigration given by these figures, or other indications as to their ideological leanings that may be evident in their broader work.

Working within MacDonald’s theoretical framework, in which concerns about anti-Semitism will be primary among Jews of all political hues, a reasonable prediction would be that Jewish representation in anti-immigration movements would be both exceptional in the larger picture of the immigration debate, and, rather than being concerned about traditional America as a whole, will be focussed almost exclusively on the exclusion of those immigrants or refugees perceived to be anti-Semitic, especially Muslims from the Middle East. In other words, such representations will be based on what might be termed renegade, minority, or abnormal perceptions of Jewish interests, rather than shared concerns or earnest sympathies with the greater mass of the native population.

In this regard, Ira Mehlman and Stephen Steinlight are especially interesting figures. In a 2012 interview with Peter Beinart, Mehlman is unambiguous in telling his interviewer: “current mass immigration policies are harming the interests of American Jews … Mass immigration is introducing large numbers of new people to American society who hold far less favorable opinions of Jews.” Similarly, in 2001 Steinlight penned an essay for the Center for Immigration Studies bluntly titled “The Jewish Stake in America’s Changing Demography.” In the course of the essay, Steinlight condemns earlier periods of nativism and restrictionism in the United States, and strongly promotes pluralistic and multicultural ideals. In fact, Steinlight’s only apparent grievance with existing immigration structures is that they have resulted in the fact

at some point in the next 20 years Muslims will outnumber Jews, and that Muslims with an “Islamic agenda” are growing active politically through a widespread network of national organizations. This is occurring at a time when the religion of Islam is being supplanted in many of the Islamic immigrant sending countries by the totalitarian ideology of Islamism of which vehement anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism form central tenets.

Such sentiments are essentially neoconservative, itself of course a largely Jewish ideological movement in conflict with native interests, and are entirely predictable within the basic theoretical framework offered by MacDonald, while doing little or nothing to corroborate the default hypothesis offered by Cofnas. Steinlight and Mehlman are primarily concerned by potential increases in anti-Semitism and a decline in Jewish political clout, and not with any broader implications of pluralism, multiculturalism, or White demographic decline.

Similar issues emerge when one considers another issue raised by Cofnas, putatively in support of his default hypothesis. This is the presence of Jewish academics active in what might be termed “race realism,” or genetic determinism, and the apparent fact that Jews have been strongly overrepresented among high-profile advocates of hereditarianism. Cofnas writes that “two out of seven of the most prominent hereditarians were Jewish (Hans Eysenck and Richard Herrnstein), making Jews extremely overrepresented in this group relative to their numbers in the general population.” Eysenck was half-Jewish, and Herrnstein married outside his group. Neither appear to have lived in any kind of sustained Jewish milieu, and Eysenck made a point of explicitly denying any affinity or connection to Jewishness.[5] It is interesting that Cofnas does not place his contention in any kind of context, or seek to prove his theory of rough parity in overrepresentations, by offering comparisons with overrepresentations among anti-hereditarian scholars.

Another issue, of course, is the obvious problem of extrapolating broader issues of politics and identity from an academic’s career. An excellent case in this regard, from the Arts, is the Jewish literary critic and Yale scholar Harold Bloom, who combines an obvious love and respect for the Western canon with a clear loathing for cultural marxist or deconstructionist approaches in literary academia. Working within the Cofnas approach, Bloom would likely be held up as an example of the default hypothesis at work. And yet Bloom is otherwise a committed pluralist who viewed the Bush administration as verging on a theocratic fascist regime, and sees the Trump administration as a catastrophe. Bloom writes: “Trump won the election because 62 million Americans live in a state of virtual reality. They no longer know what facts are. They’re also consumed by resentment, racial prejudice, and the deep fear that their America is vanishing forever. It will.” [Emphasis added] Another example, from the sciences, is the geneticist David Reich who has done much to advance an understanding of genetic differences between the races, yet has also repeatedly insisted that race is largely a “social construct.”

The point here is that MacDonald’s thesis does not require every Jewish academic to cynically use his or her discipline to advance Jewish interests, but that it does advance the idea that Jews will overwhelmingly see support for pluralism and mass immigration as being in their interests. As such, not every Jewish scientist studying race differences will necessarily oppose multiculturalism, racial pluralism, or mass immigration, and in fact very few will.

While these points may highlight some of the more obvious problems with the default hypothesis offered by Cofnas, a more thorough test is proposed by examining the scale of Jewish representation in contemporary refugee and migrant organizations.

Go to Part 2.

[1] See Gee, H. “The Refugee Burden: A Closer Look at the Refugee Act of 1980,” 26 N.C. J. Int’l L. & Com. Reg. 559 (2000).

[2] MacDonald, K. “Jewish Involvement in Shaping American Immigration Policy, 1881–1965: A Historical Review”, Population and Environment (1998) 19: 295.

[3] See Cofnas, N. “Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy: A Critical Analysis of Kevin MacDonald’s Theory”, Human Nature (2018) 29: 134.

[4] No Jews were/are listed on staff at similar but smaller groups such as American Immigration Control Foundation, California Coalition for Immigration Reform, ProjectUSA, or American Patrol.

[5] “Hans Eysenck’s Controversial Career,” The Lancet, Vol. 376, August 7 2010, 407.

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