Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Let it bleed

"What about the Jewish heart and Jewish compassion and Jewish morality?"
asks Elie Wiesel. Perhaps those are no different from anyone elses heart, compassion and morality: just ornaments to wear on parade and to mock when it's not profitable or when we're not comfortable. People who are troubled by plans by the State of Israel to deport people born and educated there; sometimes minors, who speak the language and often no other language because their parents, brought in as 'guest workers,' have overstayed their visas.

In a country offering automatic right of citizenship to any Jew, born there or not, it seems inconsistent, unless we consider that universal human tendency to surround one's self with one's ilk. These native residents are not, of course, Jews and apparently the official design of Israel as a "Jewish State" is threatened by religious diversity -- and who or what country remains moral when threatened? Not the US, not Israel.

Eli Yishai, Minister of the Interior and the man who oversees immigration policy invokes the "bleeding heart Liberal" straw man so well used by right wingers everywhere as though compassion, mercy and indeed, morality had no place in that questionable construct: the Judeo-Christian ethos.

The US doesn't seem to be in a position to offer criticism or guidance, of course. We have our own problems reconciling our facade with what goes on, and like Israel, we cling to the word illegal as though it were a solid refuge against moral condemnation. People; small children who are illegal as a result of no action of their own and who have had no ability to comply with immigration laws rightly make one's heart bleed if one has a heart with blood in it. Indeed it can be said of both nations, that they make a big issue of alleging Biblical origins for their laws while using the law as though morality were too expensive, too inconvenient and too frightening.

It's ethnic cleansing and it's always a dirty business and these days our tendency to continue to make such noble statements as one finds on the Statue of Liberty reek of hypocrisy concerns me more than the admittedly real problems with uncontrolled immigration. Perhaps we should come clean and put an "If you're white, you're all right" in Lady Liberty's hand or at least stop pretending our laws are a salute to Jesus. If we follow through on the assault on the 14th amendment, making people born and raised as Americans, who pay taxes, have jobs and businesses but never knew there parent's weren't citizens, we're going to inherit the same moral dilemma. I have to wonder in fact, as to whether, having had a grandfather who was never a citizen, my mother would retroactively be an alien, making me, after 65 years as a citizen, subject to deportation and constant fear lest there be a midnight knock on the door by a black gloved fist.

If there's no moral problem with sending a kid who speaks only English back "home" to Azerbaijan or Guatemala with no chance of appeal, then it's time we stopped pretending we're any different from anybody else.

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