On Holocaust Remembrance Day we Jews honor the memory of six million of our brethren, men, women and children who were brutally tortured and annihilated in prewar and wartime Europe. Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, in his Sabbath Week column, “Blowing In The Wind” (April 26), has drawn an ill-conceived equivalency between what happened then and what is taking place on our southern border today. Those comparisons, too often made, trivialize and distort our own tragic history.
No group within Guatemala, Honduras or Nicaragua, difficult as conditions may be, has been targeted for death in a way that Jews were targeted in the 1930s and ’40s.
“Children on our borders are dangling in the wind,” Rabbi Hoffman writes. Images of children dragged across miles of treacherous terrain are heart-wrenching and painful to see, but many of these children are pawns, forcibly participating in a drama of corruption, their well-being and welfare ignored by unscrupulous adults. They are powerless, unwitting players in a tragedy that our overwhelmed and broken immigration system has helped to create. Until and unless our government sends a clear message that admission to the U.S. will be based strictly on adherence to law, these children will remain victims.
Rabbi Hoffman insists that we have moral obligations. That is undeniable, but let’s place the focus where it belongs. Let’s first provide for those who live within our own country’s borders, citizens whose needs are equally as pressing — homelessness in city streets, crime, the drug epidemic, issues like healthcare, unemployment. Efforts to address these problems may not be as politically expedient or as dramatic in their appeal as is the image of an outstretched arm welcoming untold numbers of strangers, but it is a moral obligation that is at least as compelling. Attention must be paid.
It is time that those who serve in government prioritize their concerns and focus their efforts on serving the best interests of those whom they have been elected to represent. Until that happens, words of compassion, no matter how lyrically and lovingly expressed, no matter how well-meaning, cannot be seen as anything other than aimless thoughts that are simply, to borrow Rabbi Hoffman’s phrase, “blowing in the wind.”