Panel Transcript: High Noon to Midnight

Does Current Immigration Policy Doom American Jewry?


Mark Krikorian, Executive Director, Center for Immigration Studies


Stephen Steinlight, Fellow, Center for Immigration Studies

David Frum, Resident Fellow, The American Enterprise Institute

Joseph Puder, Director, Interfaith Taskforce for American and Israel

MARK KRIKORIAN: Good morning. My name is Mark Krikorian. I’m executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. We’re a think tank here in Washington that examines and critiques the various impacts of immigration on the United States. All our work, by the way, is online—including Dr. Steinlight’s paper, that I’ll describe briefly in a second—at our website,

President Bush noted in April, his proclamation of Jewish Heritage week, that this year marks the 350th anniversary of the first permanent Jewish settlement in the United States in what is now New York. Since that time America and its Jewish population have grown and prospered together. In fact, it wouldn’t be too much to say that American Jews have been a kind of leading indicator of important social developments in our country.

One such area is immigration policy. Although there were many factors at work at the time, Jewish organizations did play an important part in the 1965 immigration law changes that ended the discriminatory national origin quotas that had been passed in the ‘20s. But as the forces unleashed by that reform have spun out of control, American Jews are beginning to reassess their customary support for open immigration and for loose borders. As Daniel Pipes recently said, “American Jewry’s golden age may actually be coming to an end with the arrival of large-scale Islamic immigration.” 

Despite exaggerated claims by Islamist groups in this country, Muslims do not yet outnumber Jews in the United States, but if current immigration policies continue, they almost certainly will within a relatively short time. In fact, already in Canada the 2001 census showed that Muslims have surpassed Jews in number; one of the consequences of which is the recent announcement of Ontario that Sharia will now have the force of law in some disputes regarding Muslims. 

To discuss these issues we’ve brought together an illustrious panel. Let me just start with a disclaimer with regard to myself. I’m not really part of the illustrious panel, but one might ask why a Gentile is telling Jews what to think about immigration. Let me only note that as an Armenian I’m a Bris away from being Jewish as it is. (Laughter.) 

MR. PUDER: We accept you. 

MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you. 

The starting point of the discussion will be Dr. Steinlight and his new Backgrounder from the Center, which we have there on the table, entitled “High Noon to Midnight: Why Current Immigration Policy Dooms American Jewry.” Dr. Steinlight is a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies and also a fellow at Yale University’s Timothy Dwight College. For more than six years he was director of National Affairs at the American Jewish Committee, and two subsequent years he was a senior fellow there and worked on domestic policy issues such as immigration, but also church-state relations, civil rights, inter-group relations, public education, and the like. 

He’s co-editor of, unfortunately, the book I don’t have at hand. I don’t have anybody’s books with me. Sorry, David, and sorry, Steve. Steve’s co-editor of a new book, “Fractious Nation: Race, Class, and Culture at the End of the Century,” from the University of California Press. Before joining the AJ Committee he was at the National – what was then the National Conference of Christians and Jews, and before that with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He was a professor of English for 20 years—which I’ll forgive him for, not having a good time in English classes—but taught at the University of Sussex in England, in Paris, SUNY-Plattsburgh, and at NYU. 

After Dr. Steinlight’s presentation we’ll have two respondents. David Frum will be known to many of you. He’s the resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a former speechwriter for President Bush—George W. Bush. He’s also a best-selling author, having published two books in two years. I’m having trouble finishing one book in nine years, but the most recent book is “An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror,” and before that, “The Right Man: The Surprise Presidency of George W. Bush.” He writes frequently for National Review and elsewhere, as well as – in this country as well as for The National Post in his native Canada, and was recently named to the Board of Fellows of the Jewish Policy Center. 

Our second respondent will be Joseph Puder, director of a new organization called Interfaith Taskforce for America and Israel, which Joseph may tell us a little more about during his comments. He was raised in Israel, came here to attend Columbia University, where he got his Master’s in international relations and has another Master’s from Seton Hall in Judeo-Christian studies, had a radio show for some time at WMCA in New York and has held a variety of jobs in Jewish community organizations, including being director of Americans for a Safe Israel. 

I’ll start with Stephen and then we’ll move to David and Joseph and then we’ll take some Q&A. 


STEPHEN STEINLIGHT: Okay. Good morning and thank you for coming. First things first: I’d like to express my gratitude to Mark Krikorian, the staff and board of CIS, for publishing the new Backgrounder and organizing this panel. My indebtedness to Mark and CIS goes a good deal further.

My thinking about immigration, or rather unthinking acceptance of Jewish organizational orthodoxy on this question, was first challenged internally by Sam Rabinove, of blessed memory, for many years the Legal Affairs director of the American Jewish Committee and a giant in the struggle for civil rights. Sam’s amicus brief was the one most cited in the Bakke decision. Upon leaving a typically disconcerting meeting of the National Immigration Forum where I was posted as National Affairs director—my most unfavorite assignment—Sam turned to me and said, “What on Earth are we doing in this coalition?” Sam was an intellectual and moral touchstone for me on matters of public policy and more. He was my mentor at AJC, and this rather surprising comment, so remarkable and breathtaking in its simplicity and candor, started wheels turning— reluctantly and slowly, I confess, in the beginning. 

It was Mark Krikorian, however, who bested me in debate after debate on immigration policy—I confess—doing so in the most civilized and human manner. He put flesh on the bones of Sam’s disquiet and made me a convert to the cause of immigration reform. There is no way to overstate Mark’s prescience and understanding how our irrational, chaotic immigration policy threatens the future of American Jewry, or to overstate his support for my efforts over the past three years in the field where I have addressed some 60 congregations on this subject. I can’t say enough, but I can say, at least, thank you. Thank you for being such a wise and patient teacher, supporter, and friend. 

I’m going to speak about a great danger that faces the Jewish people across the globe today and its relationship to mass immigration and immigration policy. It’s the same danger that is threatening the American people as a whole and the future of Western civilization itself, though we Jews are once again the classic miner’s canary whom history has chosen to feel the full effect of the toxin first. I wish to share some salient facts with you, tell you where I think these facts are taking us, and I hope discuss with you what we can do to meet this clear and present danger. I have a list of some recommendations and I’m sure people on the panel have as well, and we can get into these as we discuss things. 

We are witnessing the rise of a form of anti-Semitism right now as virulent and remorseless as that which we experienced in the 1930s. In the 20th century the most monstrous forces on earth singled out the Jews for annihilation—Nazism and Stalinism— and now in the 21st century the most monstrous force on Earth, Islamism, has done the same. This totalitarian religious and political movement has many names: political Islam, Salafism, Jihadism, Wahhabism, Islamo-fascism, and the more generic fundamentalism. The nomenclature counts for nothing; its essence is identical where everyone encounters it, and one encounters it everywhere, including in the heart of Europe and increasingly here in the United States. And it is the same whether it is being advanced by Sunni Muslims or Shi’a Muslims. 

Its goal is world domination and the imposition of the harshest and most inhumane incarnation of Islamic law on all nations and peoples. Will it achieve its goal of world domination? Almost certainly not, at least by military means, provided the United States remains steadfast in its determination to defeat [it]—as well as advance an alternative vision of the humanistic civilization of democratic civil society and of economic opportunity and freedom within the deformed and dysfunctional universe that spawns it, and if the other nations in what we used to think of as the Western alliance come to their senses, abandon cynicism and appeasement, and recognize that it is the threat of Islamism that ought to be motivating them rather than feelings of jealousy regarding American global power. 

While they chastise us and seek to spirit away the issue and make a devil’s bargain for the short-term financial and economic gains it bestows and buy what they believe will be a brief respite for what resembles the Phony War more than anything else, their own societies are undergoing a metamorphosis that is making them unrecognizable and in ways they will come to bemoan, perhaps when it’s too late to undo it. They also risk engendering the violent nationalist reactions on their own soil as their dominant culture groups begin to strike back. They are conjuring the ghost of Oswald Mosley, or at least Enoch Powell in places like Britain. 

Having stated the ultimate goal of Islamism is arguably delusional does not mean that defeating it will come quickly or easily. To the contrary, the military campaigns and the larger global kultur kampf will prove extremely costly. It will take much time, great patience and persistence, and enormous economic and military resources. Let us remember it took us 40 years after the complete defeat of Nazi Germany and Japan to take those two fascistic, genocidal nations and transform them into democracies. 

Before it is consigned to the dustbin of history, or at least successfully quarantined—and it will be—Islamism is capable of, and will almost undoubtedly succeed in, committing a great many enormities that will shake and dishearten us. We must remember that the victories over Nazism and Communism did not come quickly or without tremendous sacrifice, nor could those victories bring back to life the millions annihilated in their names, including one-third of all the Jews on the face of the Earth. 

It is also crucial to note that while Islamism is incapable of achieving its victory through military means, it has another enormously potent weapon in its arsenal that is silent but deadly: demography, the conquest of nations through immigration. This is the critical nexus, the one that links immigration reform to the struggle and makes it utterly central to victory over this adversary. The reform of immigration and national security are indissoluble. 

Only a few weeks ago, as I’m sure you all read online, The London Daily Telegraph reported the work of demographers, who predict with a good degree of confidence that within 30 years France will have a Muslim majority. We are not now talking about the fringe of Europe, we are not talking about Macedonia or Kosovo; we are talking about the historic heartland of Europe. I’m sure everyone present read the front-page story in The New York Times on Monday, April 26th, quote, “Militants in Europe Openly Call for Jihad and the Rule of Islam.” This piece vindicates the predictions those of us who have been writing and speaking about this movement have been making over the past decade. I’m afraid that history again and again has a way of outrunning Jewish paranoia. 

Islamism pursues its agenda through a variety of means: selective assassination of dissenting Muslim intellectuals—and I would like to say parenthetically that by far the greatest number of the victims of this movement are independent-thinking Muslims—mass murder, terrorism on an unprecedented scale, brainwashing, the manipulations of big lies, pie-in-the-sky theology—you know, the Playboy mansion one goes to after one blows ones’ self up. And on occasion, when it suits its purposes, as in Bangladesh when it declared its independence from Pakistan in 1971, it is willing to employ genocide. 

Islamism embodies the politics of what my old professor Fritz Stern called the culture of despair, reflecting the failure of every other movement in the Arab and Muslim world to bring power and prestige to the Islamic patrimony, especially the failures of secular nationalism and pan-Arabism to take root in the ‘60s, not to mention the humiliating defeats the Arab nations suffered at the hands of Israel, something which has focused them in a kind of obsessional way. And not only power and prestige, but also simply acceptable living conditions. Though the heart of this movement is religious, it is also the case that living conditions within the Islamic world provide a sea of misery that’s helped to sustain it. Three out of four of the poorest people on earth live in Islamic societies. I have a plethora of statistics on this, which I will not bore you with as I suspect most of you are aware of them, but just a few, just to throw out a few: 

Not a single Arab nation or nation in North Africa is without a falling GNP and GDP. Even the wretched economies of Latin America have managed a 1 percent growth rate. Despite their oil wealth, not a single Arab nation is in the top 38 world economies. Education and literacy are spreading but with incredible slowness. Sixty percent of the population in Pakistan is illiterate, and in most of the other nations that comprise the Islamic patrimony we talk at best of a 66 percent rate of literacy. The region is filled with young men who are given a kind of superficial rote education but there are no positions, no jobs to avail them when they finish, and so we have conditions of unemployment ranging from 50 to 70 percent across this world, which, by the way, produces the highest rates of birth right now on earth and which has the highest numbers of young people in its populations anywhere on earth. Some 50 percent of the population in Iran, Pakistan, and the Arab world is under 20 years of age, and as historians have shown again and again, youth bulges in populations tend to track very well with violence and very poorly with stability. 

We could go on talking about the nightmare of urbanization in these societies, the ecological portents which are terrible. The coastal – global warming is dropping the coastline of Bangladesh, which is going to produce enormous suffering and misery. The water table in the Middle East is dropping. Right now they have one-seventh of the oil that we—water that we have; they will have even less as time goes on. 

But let me repeat: the impetus for this movement is religious. It is not identical with the classic liberation struggles of the oppressed and impoverished. It does not focus on things like the redistribution of wealth or social equality or political freedom, but on ridding Dar El Islam, especially Arabia, of infidels; on liberating Jerusalem from the Jews; on demanding ever-stricter interpretations of Islamic teaching. It seeks a restoration of the caliphate or something like the Ottoman Empire and return of all the lands that once belonged to them. It indeed has no economic theory at all, which makes it closely resemble the European fascism that played so profound a role in delineating the outlines of the writing of the key Islamists in the 1920s and ‘30s.

It’s not only religious in its impetus but it’s imperial in the old fashioned sense. This is one reason why intellectuals on the left are so bad at trying to understand it. They don’t find themselves able to comprehend at all movements that don’t resonate with the poor over their own beings, and as they are not by and large religious, and are embarrassed by patriotism rather than feel moved by it, they fail to understand the two most powerful forces in the world today: religious fervency and nationalism. Thus, they need to know, for example, that the bombing in Madrid had virtually nothing to do with the paltry Spanish contribution to the war in Iraq but a great deal to do with the fact that Muslims regard Spain as Al-Andalus, a part of the Islamic patrimony. 

I have a friend and colleague sitting in the audience, Barry Shaquette (ph), who listened to remarks by the ex-chief rabbi of Britain, Rabbi Sachs, who was asked the question, is there such a thing as a moderate Muslim? And he said, well, I thought I had found one, and I went to him and I thought I’d just pose one question, and I posed the question, I said, do you accept the legitimacy of the government of Spain? He said, of course not. 

The Islamist movement represents a danger to modern civilization—one could even say enlightenment civilization—because it despises and wishes to destroy everything we most cherish in those traditions in terms of social and political ideas. It hates pluralism, individual rights, freedom of conscience, secular civil society, the separation of religion and government, the rule of law as we understand it, women’s rights, the rights of religious minorities, Christianity, the West in general, and the United States in particular. Most of all it has identified Jews and Israel as its foremost enemies and describes both in a kind of metaphysical, totalizing, paranoid language that were used by Hitler and Joseph Goebbels in their writing and speaking. 

In fact, many of you may have seen I thought a brilliant piece by Omer Bartov in the New Republic that takes Mahathir Mohammed’s speech and compares it to the kind of writing . . . to Hitler’s writing in his second book. One need only think of that speech by Mathathir—wildly applauded, I should add, by the heads of some 52 states and President Putin—or the maunderings of Osama bin Laden about Crusaders and Jews, or that of a legion of fanatic Muslims. 

How big this movement is is a subject of debate. I know Daniel Pipes says it’s about 100 million. I’ve heard the estimate 300 million. It’s hard to know. Right now the situation is worst in Western Europe and certainly worst in France, but the United States is not going to long remain immune from a contagion that is born by mass immigration, the mass immigration of Muslims. And we have an immigration system that is utterly out of control, making a mockery of the rule of law, of national security, of national sovereignty. The simple fact is today that in Western Europe and the United States mass immigration is conterminous with the importation of mass anti-Semitism; because of this Jews have to reconsider the nostalgia and embrace of certain myths about the immigrant experience, look back at the past with open eyes, and become a little tougher on this issue.

Once again we need to recognize, as we have seen usually when we have come to our senses in the 350 years we have been on these shores, that’s what good for the Jews is good for America and vice versa. Unless we can fix this broken system before it is too late and have Congress legislate some kind of cut-off mechanism, we are going to be engulfed and drowned by a tidal wave of unregulated immigration and of Muslim immigration that will overwhelm us demographically, and much sooner than anyone else imagines. And at the same time, equally, we need to enact measures to safeguard the nation. The 9/11 hearings describe a country that is still incomprehensibly vulnerable. 

I’m thinking right now of the nexus between immigration and national security. For those of you who read The Washington Times piece only yesterday about this insane policy that is operating in the diversity lottery, and that is, of course, a system which allows people from countries that are not high on the list of sending nations to participate in the lottery which enables 55,000 individuals to get green cards. And they get the green card immediately, which allows them, of course, unprecedented freedom. They can enter and leave the United States. 

Countries on the terrorist watch list are allowed to enter this lottery, and as a result—and Steve Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies was one of the people quoted in this article, and quoted eloquently—we have now some thousands of people from places like Syria, the Sudan, and Iraq who have gone through virtually no checks at all, who have extraordinary freedom. This is one of the most fraudulent systems imaginable. People apply . . . send in multiple applications under multiple names. It is a boon for terrorists to get into the United States. 

If current immigration patterns remain constant and the engines that drive it remain in place . . . and the engine which is most troubling from our point of view is extended family reunification. That is where you start out with an individual who gains citizenship and over a period of time can not only bring his entire nuclear family but his extended family, and then they in turn, in a kind of unbroken chain, can bring their extended families. Where we start out with one individual and we end up with a West Bank village living in Dearborn; or we start out with a village, a rural village in Mexico and we have that entire village now living somewhere in the United States. We are going to see Muslims outnumber Jews within 20 years, perhaps sooner. Some demographers point to the next census in 2010 as the next possible date. 

I don’t have to tell you what Muslim ascendancy in Europe—the Islamization of Eurabia as it’s now being called—has meant to Jews. It has proved catastrophic, and not merely in terms of making European culture unrecognizable. And it’s not only that European policy on the Middle East conflict has metamorphosed from one which is approximately even handed to one which has become lopsidedly pro-Palestinian and pro-Arab, even to the point of embracing and accepting anti-Semitism, it is also the case that Jewish communities in those societies are subject to physical threat, a situation we have not seen in Europe since the Weimar Republic. 

And it is clear where violence comes from. You may remember that the European Commission authorized one study to be done by the German Technical University. That study came out with findings that said these assaults on Jews and Jewish institutions are coming from poor, disenfranchised, alienated Arabs—young Arabs influenced by Wahhabi mullahs. That report was labeled racist. It’s always the phenomenon of shoot the messenger. 

And so they commissioned another report and—which concluded rather like a, I guess it was done rather like the famous lines of Claude Rains in “Casablanca,” “Round up the usual suspects.” And they rounded up the usual suspects: skinheads, the followers of – (unintelligible) – and so on and so forth. But the fact of the matter is that there are 12 violent assaults on Jews a day in Paris; 20 synagogues have been burned to the ground in the last two years. Religious schools are being set on fire. This has become a commonality in France, a country where the Jewish population once counted for something, once mattered, which is now outnumbered 10 to 1. And when you’re outnumbered 10 to 1 in France, and the Jews in Britain are now outnumbered 10 to 1, what do you think politicians are going to do? They are going to placate the majority of the population, and that is exactly what is happening. And what do you think is going to happen in the United States when the Muslim community outnumbers the Jewish community? The same is going to apply. 

There’s a great deal more to say but I don’t want to take up all of our time. Let me focus on one point that I think is very important, and that is to talk about what is really a very profound distinction between the West and the Islamic world that touches on the issues of immigration, acculturation, that really falls into the kind of clash of civilization thesis. Islam represents a vast religious and cultural community that with notable exceptions sees the very concept of the nation-state as foreign and ephemeral. The world is divided between Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb: the world of Islam and the faithful and the world of war, the world of the infidel. 

The faithful are now attempting their third conquest over the West in Islamic history. The first was stopped at Tour or Poitiers, depending which historian you read—by Charles Martel. That invasion was ultimately reversed by the Reconquista of Spain. And then they were stopped once more at 1683 at the walls of Vienna. And now they are back and the weapon is demography. As was noted by Mark previously this last May 14, we have a situation in Canada where the Jewish population is now outnumbered by 75 percent. 

It is essential also to know that Islamism is here in the United States and flourishing. We don’t have exact numbers on size of the Muslim community. I’ve heard lowball figures by Newark (ph) at University of Chicago coming around between 2 and 3 million. The Islamist organizations place the number at 7 [million]. Most of my lapsed Muslim friends whom I tend to trust and work with very closely put the number around 4. That number is certainly sufficient, given extended family reunification and birth size, which is high, to guarantee within a generation that Muslims will outnumber Jews. That 4-million strong community is led by a host of vile Islamist political organizations with ties to Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Hezbollah, and al Qaeda, among them CAIR, ISNA, AMC, AMA. There is literally only one clean Islamic organization that I know of in the United States of America, the Islamic Supreme Council of America, a Sufi organization under Sheikh Kabanni that has some 200 mosques, but the Sheikh has been threatened with death so many times that he basically lives in the Caucasus to stay alive. 

To give you some sense of what the organized Muslim world is like you need to remember that some 70 percent of all Muslim charities have been closed by the FBI in the wake of 9/11, and the Senate Finance Committee and the FBI are investigating the remainder, including the mother of them all, the Holy Land Fund, centered in Texas, as organizations that serve as fronts and conduits of money for Islamic organizations. 

It is also important that Jews understand a couple of very simple facts: 275 million American Christians can manage the rise of a Muslim community, I think, with relative ease, but what about Jews? Jews have struggled hard to obtain political influence. And some people think that Jews are obsessed with political influence, and I plead guilty to that, but for a very good reason. We lost a third of our people in living memory because we were politically powerless, and we learn from that lesson that we could never afford to be politically powerless again. That obsession is rooted in reality and in tragedy. 

We look at the situation right now and we look at a rising entity which hates us theologically, which hates us politically, which, if you read their websites, has—and they stated the goal of outnumbering us so they can destroy American support for Israel. They have endless supplies of money coming from the Gulf and coming from the Saudis. In a good year, the American community contributes something like $600 million to Israel. That is what Saudi Arabia spent last year in Bosnia. Saudi Arabia spends $7 billion a year on Islamization programs. They are right now heavily investing in Bangladesh, a country they’ve also suspected because the Bangladeshis have some respect for religion-state separation. 

The fact is that American Jewry is already experiencing a profound change in its sense of security, and one is aware of this fact if one simply goes and visits any Jewish institution in the city of New York. Every high profile Jewish institution, whether it’s a national organization or a major synagogue, is surrounded by concrete barriers to prevent car bombs exploding too close to the buildings. If you go through the lobbies into those buildings you have to pass metal detectors and double-doors of bulletproof glass. You are then frisked by security guards, mostly retired New York City police or Israeli agents, and then are scanned again with metal detectors. 

What is truly comic about this—were it not an instance in the theatre of the absurd, and were it not so appalling an indication of the kind of mass denial that is still governing major American Jewish organizations, including the one I used to work for that’s currently meeting across the street—is that the staffs of these organizations pass the car bomb barriers, go through the double bulletproof glass lobbies, get frisked, then go upstairs into their offices and spend their days talking about the threats posed by evangelical Christians or—(laughter)—how they can increase publicity for Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion of Christ,” or how they can castigate Mormons for converting dead Jews. If there ever was a non-issue in the history of the world it is the battle over the Mormon conversion of dead Jews. In fact, I have a number of my living relatives that I would like to offer up for—(laughter)—conversion. 

We have a real problem with a Jewish leadership that is stuck in an old posture, one by the way that I’m glad to say, through survey research and my own experience on the ground—and I have the distinction of talking to more living Jews about this issue than any other human being in the United States – the data on the ground is that American Jews are getting it, grassroots Jews get it. The majority of them want immigration lowered, 70 percent support the introduction of a biometric national identity card, a position that would have been unthinkable say 10 years ago. 

What is holding Jewish leadership back? Part of it is nostalgia for an immigrant experience that never really was—Jewish experience is suigeneris; it was really the experience of refugees and asylees, not the experience of immigrants—also a habit of political correctness which is dying only very slowly, and also fear about offending Latinos over this issue. There’s a great fear of offending Latinos, and what I have said in meeting after meeting with such leaders is that right now this is not a problem. The great majority of Latinos who are immigrants are here illegally; they do not naturalize and they do not vote. More Jews voted in Los Angeles County in the last presidential election than Latinos. 

I tend to believe in Occam’s razor. You go to the problem that’s most obvious and you deal with the most obvious issue and you find the most obvious solution. We need to deal with the immigration of Muslims. We need to raise national security concerns. That Latino dog may bark one day but it’s not barking yet. That giant may awaken from its slumber but while it’s sleeping I don’t want to allow America to become Islamized in the meantime. 

And I know, and we know, that—the final point here is that American Jews have fallen victim in a way to the propaganda of their own organizations, and I belonged to that world for eight years and I know the way it works. We convinced the American Jewish community that we are geniuses and that we win our battles on Capitol Hill— AIPAC, the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, all the other organizations—because we are so bloody brilliant. 

The truth is that we have won virtually all of our battles by default. Once the anti-Semites, the real anti-Semites, the Forrestals and the Marshalls and the Dulleses left the State Department, and after ’67 when the U.S.-Israel relationship became close and most of the Arabists’ influence began to recede—although, as we see in those recent rather pathetic impotent letters being produced in Britain and the United States, they’re trying. Apparently old Arabists not only don’t die, they don’t even fade away but they come back and they try. So they’re trying. I’m glad to see—the list, at least in this country, is a list of anonyms. 

But the problem is, again, we’ve won the battles by default, and it was easy to run up and down the field and score touchdowns when nobody else was on the opposing team. Well, that’s no longer the case. There is a rising Muslim constituency and rising PACs, and James Zogby is no fool, and we understand politicians well. I mean, I’ve worked through AJC and before that when I was at the National Conference on the Hill on and off for about 15 years—and most of you have more experience than I and you know the truth about politicians. And Ira always comes up with this wonderful line that the one thing that these people know how to do terribly well is count. They can count votes and they can count dollars, and when they could get Jewish money and there was no cost, boy, they took it, and when they could get Jewish votes . . . that was great. And even if you had no Jews in your district you could always get out of state money from Jewish organizations. 

Well, that era is over. There is a new team on the field; it’s growing stronger and stronger. And this is the only country that matters. The catastrophe for Israel if we lose the United States and the catastrophe for world Jewry is indescribable. Israel has only three other friends that I can think of: the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Costa Rica. I mean, they’re all lovely places but they really can’t fill the bill, and so we really need to look at this issue and, as I’ve said, I’ve basically laid out the problem. I’d love to talk with my colleagues and with the audience about some of the practical things that we might to do to confront the issue. 

Thank you. 


MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you, Stephen. 

Now, David and then Joseph will offer some comments sort of in reaction as well as some of their own thoughts and then we’ll take Q&A. 


DAVID FRUM: Thank you. I too would like to pay tribute to Mark’s work. I found—I had the experience recently of working on a book with Richard Pearl about the terrorism problem. It had to be produced at very high speed because the world was changing so rapidly, and in the section on domestic security and the connection between America’s vulnerability to terrorism and America’s lax enforcement of immigration laws, the center’s work was very helpful and I’m grateful to him.

I want to also salute with some surprise Steven’s work. It is very provocative. He reminds American Jews—Jews generally often tend to take a rather nervous attitude toward controversy. I’m sure you know the story of the two Jews who are sentenced to death by firing squad and when the commander of the squad came over he tied the blindfold over the eyes of one of them and then moved to tie the blindfold over the eyes of the other and the second one spat in his face and the first one said why must you always make trouble? (Laughter.) 

I personally respond with more optimism to some of these issues than Steven does. I’m reminded of a wonderful line of Tom Wolfe’s; he was debating Gunther Grass at Princeton in 1969 and Gunther Grass, the German novelist, stood up and very theatrically waved his hands and said—this is ’69, it’s the Vietnam era—the dark night of fascism is falling in the United States. And Wolfe replied the dark night of fascism may be falling in the United States but it always does seem to land in Europe. 

But there are a number of extremely practical immediate problems that we face in connection with terrorism, with—and immigration laws that need prompt addressing. As the center’s pointed out, although in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 it was said the 19 hijackers were in the United States legally, that’s not exactly the case. That of the—of those people who have been apprehended in Islamic terrorist plots against the United States since 1993, about half were in some way or another in trouble with the immigration authorities. They had either violate—they were either out of the status at the time, had been out of status in the past. 

More, events offered American authorities a number of opportunities to intercept the 9/11 hijackers, in one case, even within 12 hours before launching the attack when one of them was stopped on the highway on the way to the airport. Many of these people were carrying fraudulently obtained drivers licenses, which functions as the equivalent of an American national ID card. One of the things Richard and I advocate in An End to Evil is a national ID card, and this gets a lot of objection from people with strong libertarian sensibilities. I share those and I understand them, but it’s important to remember that the United States does have a national ID card system, it’s just one that’s extremely easy to forge. And while there might be a case for having no identity card of any kind, I think there is no case for allowing people to use state drivers licenses that can be obtained with the most gross of misrepresentations. 

I know here in the District of Columbia, for example, if you want one and you walk into the drivers office and you say look, there’s been a flood, I’ve lost of all of my documentation, I need a card. They’ll say, well, can you prove who you are—the person you say you are? And if you can bring a lease and a utility bill you can get a drivers license. You can also get registered to vote. 

I think I have the distinction of being the only person on this panel who is simultaneously an immigrant, a child of immigrants, the grandchild of immigrants, and the great-grandchildren of immigrants, which reflects my family’s inability to make up its mind between the United States and Canada. (Laughter.) But at the time I came to D.C. I was a Canadian citizen. I was also offered a chance to enroll—to register as a voter. Now, I think if I’d said I want to register as a Republican they might have looked at me with a little bit more suspicion. 

But these documents are very powerful, and you can get onto an airplane with them, you can get into the White House with them. If you go to the White House gates they will ask you to produce photo ID. You can produce that D.C. driver’s license that you get with the lease and the utility bill and you can be admitted into the building, and that, I think, constitutes a rather breathtakingly lax attitude. And that is why—because we have these cards we need one that works, and there’s a very direct relationship between this and the enforcement of immigration laws in an effective way. 

One of the things that Mayor Giuliani proved in New York was that if you want to enforce the laws, the right thing to do is to enforce them all, and there was a spectacular vindication—one of the earliest spectacular vindications of the Giuliani approach to policing was a stabbing that occurred on Park Avenue soon after Mayor Giuliani took office. There was a woman there who owned a dry cleaning store, a loved neighborhood fixture. She came to the store early, 7:00 in the morning, to open it up. She was accosted, robbed—attempted robbery, and stabbed to death and left to die in her blood on the step. The neighbors were, of course, horrified but . . . the police retrieved the weapon but they didn’t recognize the fingerprints. The person who had stabbed her had no previous criminal record, at least no previous arrest record. 

Unsolvable crime, or so it would once have seemed, but under the new Giuliani policies of enforcing all laws New York had begun the policy of enforcing laws against casual smoking of marijuana. Two, three days later police in Washington Square park arrest somebody who is smoking marijuana in public. They book him, they fingerprint him and the fingerprints match the knife. The point—this is a murder. When people say, why do we care about people smoking marijuana in the park, the answer is, well, that’s . . . is you sometimes find murderers that way. If you stop the people who jump turnstiles, every one of them, you will find a lot of guns and knives and you will get them off the streets. 

Well, in the same way, if you had an effective national ID card—now, nobody wants to see an America where an officer of the law has the power to call on an unoffending citizen to show his identification. American liberty means you don’t have to answer questions from the police if you don’t want to. But if they’re stopping you anyway, if you violated a speeding limit, if you have committed some other infraction of the law, if you are applying for some kind of benefit from the state—whether it’s student aid or welfare benefits and the state then because it’s offering you something has acquired a right to ask you questions. If you’ve given the state the right to ask you questions you should be able to prove that you are legally the person you claim to be, and that the state has the right to ask you to confirm that you are. 

If that system were backed up with the Giuliani attitude—which is when we arrest you for speeding, we check, of course, if there are any outstanding warrants for you. That happens now, at least, within that one state jurisdiction. We check whether you’re valid to drive, whether you’re allowed to drive because that’s obviously relevant. At the same time, we check that you are the person you say you are and that you’re entitled to be in the country and if you’re not something should be done about it. 

Now, a number of states and localities refuse to cooperate with the federal government in enforcing immigration laws, and this brings to mind the beginning of wisdom on a lot of immigration questions which, of course, comes from the singer and comedian Sonny Bono. I once had the experience of meeting the international global celebrity Bono and we talked for a little while and I kept calling him Bono and after somebody explained to me why this was a – I mean, I said well, should he care? People call me David Froom all the time; it doesn’t bother me. He said, no, no, no, the fact that you called him Bono indicates that you believe in your innermost heart of hearts that Sonny Bono is a bigger celebrity than he is. And I have to admit, I do. (Laughter.) 

But when Sonny Bono ran for Congress, the first time he was asked his position on illegal immigration, he responded, “What can I say; it’s illegal,” which is both the dumbest possible answer and the smartest possible answer to this because if we really believed that illegal immigration were illegal we would want to do something about it. I mean, nobody says that there’s this tremendous problem of illegal withdrawals of money from institutions of deposit by men with guns and that’s just part of American life that that happens. You enforce the laws against illegal withdrawals of funds; you say you can’t take them. You enforce laws against people driving over the speed limit. These are laws and they’re enforced. Well, in the same way, if you have immigration laws, you enforce them and that would have a tremendously powerful effect on enforcing the nation’s security. 

Now, let me say one thing that is somewhat more radical and that I have learned from some of the work of the Center for Immigration Studies. My own past attitude on immigration has always been that you need—that there are two questions and two unrelated questions. One is, what immigration laws you should have? And then the second question is how those laws—should those laws be enforced? And, obviously, whatever the limit—whether it’s half a million a year or three-quarters of a million a year, a million a year, whatever that limit is, nonetheless that’s the limit and the law should be enforced. And I always thought that was a clear fact . . . distinction. 

As I had been thinking about this issue I have come to appreciate that maybe it is not so clear-cut in that just as a blurry attitude toward illegal immigration tends to foster outright conspiracy and plotting . . . makes it possible . . . and that while obviously the vast majority of the illegal immigrants in the United States ask for nothing more than the right to cut somebody’s lawn or do other kind of work for less than the stipulated wage and only an infinitesimal minority of them are engaged in plots of violence against the United States, so it’s true that the existence of the first population makes possible the existence of the second. 

The question that I think a lot of us have to grapple with is, does the casual attitude toward legal immigration—is that ultimately responsible for tolerance of a massive illegal population in the United States? I have not come anywhere close to finishing my thinking on that subject, but it is a subject I do think about and I thank the center for its work and I think Steve Steinlight – (audio break, tape change) . . . certainly true that always what is good for America is good for the Jews. I mean, it’s good for the Jews to ban Baby Jesus from the local city. I’m not sure . . . local city park. I’m not so sure it’s good for America. But the other way it certainly is true, and what is good for America is effective enforcement of these laws because Jews are the target. It’s not just in New York City.

One of the things I’m going to be doing this afternoon is driving up to a suburb of Washington to pick up my children from their Jewish day school. It’s surrounded with anti-bomb devices. It’s got pollards. It’s got a policeman. A synagogue here in—I live in Washington—in suburban Maryland, as sleepy a place as you can imagine, the synagogues on holidays have a couple of squad cars; on ordinary Saturdays they have a squad car there. And the threat to national security is going to be a threat to Jewish institutions as well. We saw that in the sniper case, when everyone had to wonder when, how would he target the Washington area Jewish community. As it happened, he didn’t. I still don’t quite know why he didn’t but the next one very well might.

And so I thank you for this important work and I thank the center for its stimulation to my own thinking.

MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you, David.


JOSEPH PUDER: Well, it’s tough to follow these two guys. I think that Stephen for sure covered every angle I wanted to touch on, so I’ll try my best. And I wanted of course to thank Mark for inviting me.

In 1991, right here in Washington, I was privy to a meeting at the home of— (unintelligible)—Sheldon, and next-door, on Capitol Hill, the president was delivering the State of the Union, celebrating the end of the Cold War. I was a chutzpadik Israeli at that time and I said, the Cold War may be over but the hot war with radical Islam is just beginning. And of course is you look back at ’91 it didn’t seem possible that we are going to face the real war of the 21st century. But there were many, many indications, and I’m not going to go into it at this point, maybe later.

I want to add to what Stephen has already said. In his new book, Who are We: The Challenges to America’s National Identity, Samuel C. Huntington identifies bilingualism, dual citizenship, religious diversity, and multiculturalism as risking the American creed that includes, among other things, the promise of freedom and opportunity. In Huntington’s very credible analysis as to why immigration should be limited, he argues that the ordinary Americans are more nationalistic than the liberal elites and suggests that if a referendum were held today, a majority would support a strong and effective enforcement of borders and stringent tests for citizenship.

He points out that among those immigrants arriving today, there are many who refuse to share the American cultural identity and in fact consider American culture criminal. He warns that unless the U.S. insists that immigrants accept America’s cultural identity, which is unlikely. Given business priorities and the multicultural fantasies of the liberal elites, America will suffer the fate of Rome. Huntington’s analysis does not, however, touch strongly enough on national security as a factor for limiting the immigration of the inassimilable and those who deliberately seek to undermine American values and creed. 

In the post-9/11, most Arab Muslims are clearly those who would view America as criminal, evil, and satanic, and see it as a holy mission and duty to undermine the Judeo-Christian values and transform America into an Islamic state, as Stephen already alluded to. Constitutional rights of free speech and freedom of religion and press would evaporate, as would women’s rights and the separation of church and state. 

CNN reported on December 3rd, 2003, quote, that, “The U.S. Arab population is surging.” Citing Census Bureau figures, the piece found that 1.2 million Arabs in the U.S. in 2000 compared to 860,000 in 1990 and 610,000 in 1980. Moreover, while earlier Arab immigrants included a majority of Christians, new arrivals are Muslims. Almost half of the Arabs in the U.S. live in five states: California, New York, Michigan, New Jersey, and Florida—exactly the same states Jews enjoy electoral weight. Interesting.

Interestingly enough, Arab-American organizations say that their population is larger than reported by the Census Bureau because they are reluctant to fill out government forms, either because they are illegal or because they came from countries with oppressive regimes. Well, the illegal part I readily believe. Last October, seven out of eight Democratic presidential candidates attended the Arab American Institute national leadership conference in Dearborn, Michigan, as did leaders of both parties. Pollster John Zogby, himself an Arab American, pointed out that these days, quote, “Anything that moves votes one way or another by the thousands can have an impact on proportions.”

Finally, let me cite the survey by Worldview 2002, which recorded 76 percent of Americans saying that, based on the events of 9/11, U.S. immigration laws should be tightened to restrict the number of Arab-Muslim immigrants. Also, 77 percent said that they favor restricted immigration in order to combat terrorism.

The bottom line, ladies and gentlemen, is whether we wish to die upholding our political correctness at all costs, as the liberal elites would have it, or insist that the government, by the people and for the people, practice what it preaches about democracy and legislate and enforce and end, or severely restrict, Islamic immigration. 

I want to relate to you my personal—like David, I’m an immigrant myself, but I came from an environment where the society that I lived in, namely Israel, was so Americanized that basically coming to America wasn’t much of a transformation. I spoke the language, I knew the movie stars, I even knew the politicians and the states, and it is pretty common. But now contrast that for a moment with Islamic immigrants. And in some way I have a certain sympathy. You have to understand that in the Islamic states there is no separation of church and state. There is also a sense of women are really to be at home and not to in the streets and Congress. They should be in the kitchen raising the kids. For them it’s a shock to see American freedoms. And it’s another way of basically looking at America as a deviant society.

Another factor in Islamic immigration, difficulties in assimilating to this society, is the fact that there is a sense that America has basically insulted the sensitivities of the Islamic world, and there is a sense of revengism. As Stephen alluded earlier, they can’t beat America, or for that matter the West, through military means of political means, but they can do that through demographic means, and in fact, Europe is proof of that. In Spain, the number of illegals . . . millions. And clearly, legal or illegal, they constitute a growing factor in Spanish life, and indeed, in 20 or 30 years we might find that it is going to be called Al-Andalus rather than Spain. And Spain is just one of the countries. Of course France is now close to between 6 and 7 million Arab Muslims who do not assimilate. And clearly, this cloud called Islamic demographics is struggling across the Atlantic. It’ll get here sooner or later—again, as Stephen alluded to.

Bob Guzzardi, who’s here from Philadelphia – he’s the chairman of the Interfaith Taskforce—said to me in a conversation we had, “I wish the Jews read the map in 1943 when Hitler wrote his “Mein Kampf.” Ten years later, that’s when Hitler came to power. Today we’re also talking about 20 years’ time. And again, it seems unrealistic or perhaps unbelievable, but, yes, at some point in time—you’ve got to remember you have a 1.2 billion reservoir of oppressed, poor Muslims that would love to come here. These societies – I should say the people in these societies are imbued with a sense of hate for America and for what it stands, and there are in fact encouraged to come here and start militating for an Islamic state in largely the realm of Dar al Islam. 

And then there is of course – something that I’ll finish with – a quote by a great journalist, Oriana Fallaci, who, in her book, “The Rage and the Pride,” has written, “I accuse us in the West of cowardice, hypocrisy, demagogy, laziness, the stupidity of the unbearable fad of political correctness. If we continue to stay inert, the radical Islamists will become always more and more—they will demand always more and more. They will vex and boss us always more and more until the point of subduing us. Therefore, dealing with them is impossible; attempting a dialogue, unthinkable; showing indulgence, suicidal. And he or she who believes to the contrary is a fool” end quote.

Unfortunately, in the year 2000 I wrote to the two presidential candidates, wanting their opinions or asking them for their platform on immigration. And, would you know it, none of them responded. It shows you how serious political elites are about immigration. 

Thank you. 

MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you, Joseph. I’ll take the prerogative of the chair and ask the first question, and this is for anybody. I experienced this at a closed panel discussion with a major Jewish organization, a committee within that organization, reassessing their immigration policy, and there were—I was one of several people on the panel, and frankly—unusual that I was there; I was lucky to be there. But one of the members of this taskforce of the organization, a very liberal woman, who stood up and said, I’m proud of my organization’s advocacy for high levels of immigration and—I mean, she put it as generous immigration and et cetera—but why don’t we just not let any Arabs in? And I would ask a similar question. In other words, can immigration policies really focus just on Arabs or Muslims or people from the Middle East, or however you want to describe this, or is there in a sense a sort of broader reform, a more kind of across-the-board change that’s necessary that would go beyond simply looking at people from Saudi Arabia or Egypt or what have you? 

MR. STEINLIGHT: Let me just jump in briefly and pass it along to my other colleagues. I mean, politics is the art of the possible and we have to advocate proposals that can fly, and fly on Capitol Hill and be translated into legislation. And it is clear that there would be no support in the present American society and on Capitol Hill for a return to anything resembling the National Origins Quota Act. So it’s a non-starter. 

I think that there have to be across-the-board cuts. We have an immigration policy that is, generally speaking, out of control. We have vast numbers of people violating our borders. We have the threat of a presidential amnesty that could amnesty up to 15 million illegals, which would then send a green light to 15 million more that there are no consequences to violating felonies in the United States; in fact there are rewards.

But having said that, I do think that we have to recognize the fact that the dangers represented by Islamists within the Muslim community—and they are a minority but, of course, all political movements are run and generated by minorities and with either the tacit or active support of majorities—they represent a specific threat. And I think specific measures need to be taken; maybe heightened measures around Islamic immigration but which I would extend to all immigration. And that is for—I mean, and there are many, many things that can be done. 

For one thing, we do not have—one of the things that has come out of the 9/11 hearings and in a lot of the books that I’ve read that led up to the 9/11 catastrophe, we have not only a toxic and dysfunctional relationship between the CIA and the FBI, but we have an FBI that clearly cannot handle terrorism. We need to do what every other Western democracy has done; we need to have a domestic security service. If this sounds like fascism, they have it in Sweden, they have it in Canada, they have it everywhere—they have it in Holland. We don’t have it. We need something like the MI-5 or the Shin Bet. That’s one way. 

We also don’t bother checking people coming into this country anymore. At some point we adopted a kind of McDonald’s-8-billion-served mentality. In Saudi Arabia we handed over the questioning of visa seekers to travel agencies. This was an act of insanity. I mean, there are numbers of specific things we can do. Reporting requirements—I lived in Britain for seven years. I did my graduate work there and then stayed on and taught. Every year on a number of occasions I had to report to the local police department and let them know where I was, whether I was meeting the terms of my visa requirements. I did not think I was living in a fascist state. I was the guest of the British nation; they had a perfect right to know where I was and what I was doing. So reporting requirements are essential. 

I would also say, and this is critical, that if a person—that Muslim immigrants to this country or potential visa seekers have to be asked searching questions about their political and religious affiliations. Not to do so is simply to ignore the 800-pound gorilla in the room. And if that offends against some of the aspects of political culture that prevail today, so be it. But we need to know if they have affiliations, if they are attenders of mosques with radical mullahs. Do they belong to Islamist political parties? Are they fellow travelers? Are they recipients of publications by these political parties? We can do some of the checking in cooperation with the security agencies in friendly countries where there are at least nominally friendly regimes—Jordan, Morocco, Egypt—I can go down the list. But we need to vet these people in very particular ways. 

So special vetting, a national domestic security service, reporting requirements, a national ID card without question. Some of these things will affect all, some of these things need to be more targeted to Muslims—that is where the threat is. I just have to say parenthetically I will never forget an interview with Tim Russert and Secretary Minetta in which they were talking about, quote, unquote “racial profiling” of Arabs. And the fact is, if you concentrate on young Arab men between the ages of 19 and 40 who attend radical mosques, you can very quickly correct your policing and focus it where the policing needs to be done. That’s how the German police broke up multiple cells in Germany once they shifted to that model. 

I will never forget Norman Minetta saying to the question by Tim Russert—Russert said, let’s imagine a scenario in the airport. You have two people. You have a woman—we’re in the Twin Cities airport, you have a Norwegian grandmother with six suitcases surrounded by great-grandchildren, grandchildren kissing her goodbye. She’s paid for her trip in advance to get a cheap flight. She stayed in the country. She has family here for several generations. She’s going back. And you have a Jordanian—someone traveling on a Jordanian passport, a young man of 22. He has no luggage. He has just paid for his ticket in cash. He’s made a few statements that sound reasonably questionable. Who do you check? He said we check both equally. 

Now, that is political correctness gone insane, so I would say across the board because national quotas and things will not fly, but let’s use intelligent policing and security methods on populations that represent special threats. And, clearly, out of this population we have special threats. 

MR. PUDER: I just wanted to make a short comment. Well, perhaps there’s a distinction here. If Latino Americans or Mexican-Americans pose a threat, an ultimate threat to the character of America, it’s perhaps turning the Southwest of the United States back into Mexican—part of the Mexican patrimony. On the other hand, the Islamic immigrants—if they indeed do come en masse; and eventually they will, as we heard today, unless of course they’re curbed—they will overturn the entire United States and our entire culture and civilization. So you’ve got to size up threats from these two different groups. Although, currently the Latino Americans come in greater numbers, they don’t pose that imminent threat, as do the Islamic immigrants to the United States. 


MR. FRUM: Well, what I think I would have said to that woman at your meeting was to remember that many of the people who come from the Arab world are precisely coming because they object to the way things they are there, and one shouldn’t lose sight of that. There are many people who have had to flee and some—there are now, I understand, five times as many Lebanese Christians living outside Lebanon as live inside. 

This actually—I will long remember an experience I had with someone that sort of sums up both the promise of America and why it has trouble in its effective counterterrorism work. I recently had to give a lecture at Rutgers University. I was met at the train station by a big car and a driver who was one of those people when you talk . . . lecture a lot you see the people who want to talk and then the people who are bursting to talk. And I usually try to squelch the people who want to talk but the people who are bursting to talk usually have something to say. So what did he want say? 

He owns the company. He owns 12 cars and he wanted to see me. He’d read the book. He’s a big supporter of President Bush’s. He loved what Richard and I were advocating; he wanted to talk to me about it. And he had a Middle Eastern accent and— not Iranian obviously, not Israeli obviously. I couldn’t quite place it, and finally it emerged he was an Egyptian Copt and he had come here as a refugee in 1975, and he just . . . what he wanted to know . . . the reason he was here, he wanted to know what could he do to help in the war on terror. And I said, “Well, that’s fantastic.” I said, “Do you have children?” “Yes.” “And how old are they?” “They’re in their early 20s.” “Well, they should be involved in the national security of this country. There’s a lot they can do. Do they speak Arabic?” And he said with enormous pride, “Not one word!” (Laughter.) 

But, I mean, I don’t think—first, I don’t think you can do immigration by singling out ethnic groups. That would be illegal. It would also be politically unwise. And I think that raises a lot of problems with racial profiling. I think that is a very dumb argument to have. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to say that you’re dumb, your point of it is very powerful, but it is foolish to get drawn into an argument where black Americans who are very security conscious start seeing effective anti-terrorism enforcement as a throwback to racial discrimination, especially because the terrorists are going to be able to recruit people of all kinds, who look all kinds of ways and have all kinds of passports. There are going to be in the future fair-skinned people with British passports and Anglo-Saxon names imbued with this ideology. There are going to be such people: Johnny Walker Lindh, Richard Reed, Jose Padilla . . . 

Audience: Ibrahim Hooper 

MR. FRUM: What? 

Audience: Ibrahim Hooper. 

MR. FRUM: Yeah, that’s right. They can—it’s an ideology; it’s a set of ideas. It is like trying to defeat communist espionage by racially profiling Russian immigrants. So you catch Solzhenitsyn and miss Alger Hiss. 

MR. STEINLIGHT: Can I mention an observation then? 

MR. FRUM: Yeah. 

MR. STEINLIGHT: And that’s this—I mean, I work at something called the Center for the Strategic Studies of South Asia. All of my colleagues are South Asians. They are all lapsed Muslims; not a single one practices Islam. You mentioned Coptic Christians. I think you’re begging the question. My friends are free thinkers. They have abandoned Islam and the Fatwah was against them and many have had to live in safe houses. What about Americans who come—what about people who come here and practice Islam, and the fact is that contemporary Islam – the concept of jihad has taken over the five pillars in wide stretches of Islam. Yes, there are Muslims—people from the Islamic civilization who have come here to escape that but they don’t call themselves Muslims anymore. Most call themselves free thinkers or they’re Copts or they are lapsed. 

MR. FRUM: Well, here’s where I will agree with you and here’s where I disagree. It is inconceivable to me that American immigration law could ever say to somebody on a visa form are you a Muslim?

MR. STEINLIGHT: I understand that. 

MR. FRUM: If so, you can’t stay. However, you were referring to the question of screening and I think this is important. When, for example, student visas—when someone applies for a student visa, that since the 1950s it has been the policy of the United States to try to detect people who believe in extremist ideologies. In the 1990s this was redefined to say look, if you’ve committed violent acts you may not enter the United States, but if you are the president of the local Hezbollah association and you have nothing in your record then that’s fine; you can come get a student visa to an American university. 

And, just as during the Cold War when you were looking at people who wanted a visa to the United States you looked at things like did they belong to a Communist party, which wasn’t a very good way to judge but it was sort of a crude proxy for what you’re interested in. So it would make sense to me that when you are allocating student and business visas and other kinds of things you ought to look, does a person have associations that suggest a proclivity for terrorist sympathies. That is—because you’re not dealing—not yet—with the Soviet Union. You don’t have people who are doing things as sophisticated as creating deep penetration agents and creating legends. There may be—I mean, one of the things that is sort of startling about the terrorism of the 1990s in retrospect was how crudely it was done.

One of the things that misled a lot of people in the intelligence service into believing in an exaggerated role for Iraq in the 9/11 attacks was they thought if they defeated us they must have had good tradecraft. And we know that al Qaeda doesn’t have good tradecraft, therefore, they must be sponsored by Iraq or Iran. And then, as you look more carefully, they defeated us but they had lousy tradecraft. I mean, it was . . . they might as well have been walking around with sandwich boards that said I am a terrorist. 

And that is a great advantage that we have and it should be possible, when you look at things to say you have some questions, and the local consulates and embassies should be involved in this. And one other thing: this is not law enforcement exactly but there is a sensibility in both – in a lot of parts of America and in outreach toward the world that Tom Wolfe described, to quote him again, in Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, where you believe somehow that the more radical the people are the more authentic they are. So when Americans abroad—diplomats, and the State Department’s public diplomacy, when they want to engage in the Islamic world they will look for moderate Islamists because there’s no point in talking to the lunatics but there’s also not much point in talking to the liberals. So go look for the people who hate you a little bit and go talk to them. 

And we really ought to be making a serious effort to engage friends, and there are friends in this—sometimes they are people who are local minorities, like Coptic Christians, like Kurds. Sometimes they are environmentalists and women’s organizations who have an interest in an open—and such people do exist, and those are the people we ought to be engaging; we ought to be looking for people who actually buy into American values, and they can be found. And that should be something, when you’re thinking about visa allocation that should also be part of it. 

MR. PUDER: Let me just a point that the Copts actually are Christians dominated by a different culture, a different kind of species. I mean, these are people that have been persecuted by Muslims. They’re happy to be in the United States. So I would distinguish between Copts and Muslim Egyptians, for instance. 

But, also there’s another problem that needs to be looked at and that is the Muslim immigrants that come here and already are in America, radicalized in schools—in Muslim schools and by imams in the mosque who basically are funded by Saudi and other Gulf money. 

MR. KRIKORIAN: Let’s take some questions from the audience. You first, sir, and then you, Ira. 

Q: I’d like to ask Mr. Steinlight the following. Your diagnosis is catastrophic. You’re diagnosing that lethal—I don’t want to use the word cancer because it doesn’t really sound good—but your diagnosis of this is really catastrophic. Yet, the remedy that you’re offering for what is the catastrophe, a zero sum game, is maybe a little more than an aspirin. I don’t know to what extent immigration contributes to the demographic increase of Muslims in America but at some point they will surpass Jews and even if immigration is stopped.

My question to you is what do you suggest as a remedy or a strategy for the Jewish community to deal with that—with the fact that Muslims will become a stronger—in America a stronger minority than Jews are today?

MR. STEINLIGHT: Well, actually I have a strategy and I’ve written a paper about this and I’ve begin to speak about it and I’m not the only one who’s been talking about this. Professor Dershowitz has been talking about this as well. There are really two methods. One is that need—to the extent possible through a variety of institutions and non-governmental organizations and foundations—to work with more moderate Muslims and others to try to quote, unquote “Americanize” Islam. 

I have hopes, for example, that the African-American component within the Islamic community may be a strong ally in this. The African-American component within conventional Muslims—I’m not know talking about the Nation of Islam which is a crazy, fascist cult—believes American Muslims should be patriotic. And black Americans are Americans and they have American values. So I think that working through African-Americans who have become Muslims is a very potentially rich approach. 

In terms of Jewish numbers—and this is something that’s a very interesting discussion and we could take a long time and have it. Obviously, Jewish fertility is below replacement level and there is a so-called crisis of Jewish continuity. I think the answer for that is very simple: that Jews should go back to doing something that Jews always did traditionally before the Emperor Constantine made it punishable by death. Jews should seek proselytes from among lapsed American Christians. Jews should be converting and aggressively out there converting people to Judaism. 

Given the fact that mainstream Protestantism is dead as a doornail, and given the fact that the scandals with the Roman Catholic Church have caused many people to back away, and many Americans—this remains, by the way, the most spiritual society in the world except for India—who are looking for spiritual answers. I would suggest that there is a role in Judaism, something the Jews have not pursued, but I think there’s a historic moment here. Jews have not really pursued since the 2nd century—when, by the way, 20 percent of the Roman Empire was Jewish by conversion—to move towards a conversion strategy. 

So, yes, you’re right. I mean, even if we . . . even if we could hold the door closed for a period of time—I think the two strategies have to be to try to Americanize Islam and I believe, for example, that there are forces within Islam—and I know many progressives who would like to see a kind of reformation, if you will, within Islam. If it’s going to happen anywhere it’s going to happen here. I think the African-American component is extremely important, and I think Jews need to think – rethink very strongly their historic antipathy to evangelizing and should go out and do what Jews always did. There’s nothing in the Torah or the Talmud that speaks against proselyting.

Q: Can I just follow-up? It will be really short. 

MR. KRIKORIAN: No, we don’t have a lot of time and we need . . . let me take two questions and then sort of two more, sort of batch them. Ira?

Q: I’m just really—this is addressed more to David than anybody else. I know you don’t speak for the administration, but obviously you have connections and ties. Maybe you can give us some insight into their thinking. In your presentation you mentioned that, you know, most of the illegal immigrants in this country just want to cut our grass for a few dollars less. Now, leaving aside the fact that you add in all the social costs—education, health care—you’re not getting it for a few dollars less; you’re getting it for a lot more. 

But even if it were cheaper, why is the prospect of having your grass cut a little more cheaply so seductive to this administration that they would ignore the obvious national security implications that are attached to it? And, you know, even after September 11th they’re still continuing to do this, and it’s unfathomable to me and to many other people and I was hoping you might have some insight.

MR. KRIKORIAN: Go ahead—

MR. FRUM: Okay, I happen to be on a book tour for “An End to Evil,” like in the second or third week when the administration’s immigration proposal came out, and it was like being there on the first day of the Sommes when the machine guns opened; I mean, every show you did, every question. And I made a few calls and said, this is obviously not anything statistical or reliable but there’s a problem up here— (laughter) —in Americaland; the Americans are unhappy about this. 

And I think one of the things you can never underestimate is just how administrations divide up their policy into – their areas of policy into working groups where interests come together and sometimes they make hideous errors. So, in this one it just seemed to people here was a way to take an actual constituency in the Republican Party, which is employers, and a hopeful constituency of the Republican Party, which is conservative Catholic Latino immigrants, and meld them together to solve the problem of the decay in the Republican party’s voting base over the past 15 years. The Republican Party’s not as an institution as it was in the middle – in late 1980s.

And it was just—and what they lost sight of was how—the impact this was going to have on the kind of the upper-working-class, American who is sort of the institutional bulwark of the party. The voting bulwark, not the institutional but the voting bulwark of the party, and who saw this as, one, an attack on his wages, but even more—even more an attack on his values because, one, it violated his sense of fairness, and it also—the great problematic question for Republicans is that pollster’s question, cares about the problems of people like me. And that—whoever designed this proposal was clearly not thinking about the problems of people like the people who were calling my stations and yelling at me. 

So, I think it was just bad . . .this administration, if you read Paul Krugman, you get a sense of this Machiavellian, cunning, scheming immigration . . .[an] administration filled with polls. They know exactly what they’re doing. It’s really . . . they’re not . . . I mean, they just are gripped on to a political dynamic that they think is fundamentally hostile to them in a way that the Reagan people did not, and they are looking for answers and they make a lot of errors. 

MR. KRIKORIAN: Let’s take three questions and then everybody will sort of have a chance to kind of answer them and kind of wrap up. Quick questions. Casey (sp). 

Q: I just wanted to say . . . Stephen’s comment about the paralysis of the Jewish community, partially because of the fear of offending the Latinos’ vote and stuff like that. I just . . . for five years I was deputy director to Dan Stein at the Federation for American Immigration Reform. We had a number of occasions where Dan would debate representatives of the Mexican quasi-governmental institutions like the Mexican-American Chamber of Commerce and many others. And I was struck sometimes in their off-camera comments there would be this virulent anti-Semitism that would come out, and I just wondered—I said, what on earth could this explain this in the history of Mexico? I mean, Maximilian wasn’t Jewish as far as I know, and things like that. I mean, I just couldn’t understand it. 

But if you look at some of the things, like Vosta (ph) Islam, the official mouthpiece of MEChA on the Internet, you can’t – the virulent hatred towards Jews and anti-Semitism is oftentimes expressed by an Arab on the Internet. So I’m wondering is this something that is just my perception or is this something that is shared? And is this—this kind of willful just neglect of this issue just something that is also a potential peril to the Jewish community? I’m thinking about – and the American community too. I mean, the chants at the Mexico City soccer game of Osama, Osama at the U.S.-Mexican soccer match recently. I mean, that’s just sort of been swept under the rug, but this is—it seems to me that is also a threat to the Jewish community in the United States. 

MR. KRIKORIAN: Thanks. Let’s take two more. You sir, and then you and then we’ll let everybody answer in turn. 

Q: You claim that what’s good for Jews is good for American immigration – (off mike) – the reason why Jews have promoted immigration is, one, due to the fact that they believe that they’re safer in a – (off mike) – less homogenous community. Do you agree with that? 

MR. STEINLIGHT: Do I agree with the notion of a less homogenous –

Q: No, that the reason why Jews have historically supported immigration has been that they view a less homogenized community as safer. And if that’s true then – (off mike) – in Jewish, and I guess, quote, unquote – (off mike) – interests when it comes to integration. 

MR. KRIKORIAN: Okay, and then you, sir, and then we’ll let each of the people respond. 

Q: I just have a comment. (Off mike) – anecdotal, if you will, affirmation for what you really laid out very eloquently in your paper, and the insidious, if you will, implications of having an anti-Semitic Islamic majority here in the U.S. And since I actually lived for many years in Iran under – (off mike) – I appreciate that and I just wanted to share that. 

MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you. Okay, well, let’s let Steve have the last word, so I’ll start with Joe and then David, if you have any responses to the questions or anything else, and then Steve will wrap-up. 

MR. PUDER: Well, let me try to answer the gentleman here from a theological point of view. Vatican II and – (inaudible) – was slow to come into the pews in the Latin – in Latin America and Mexico as well. And this is reflected in the kind of teaching you still have in most of Latin America. It really did not incorporate the new – and, of course, Latin America is Catholic. It did not incorporate the new way of teaching that the Vatican has actually proposed. That, as I said, is reflected in the pews. It’s going to take time. I think that there are Mexicans that live in the United States – and especially those who, for instance, convert to evangelical movement. 

Protestant—that is Protestant relations are somewhat differ in terms of their . . . or in terms of their feelings towards Jews. So I would say that this is one of the factors in Latin anti-Semitism. 

We had a question about the Jews homogenized—that they want a less homogenous Christianity in this country and that’s why they support—well, to a degree it’s true. If you look at Jewish history, clearly, Jews wanted to have a protective umbrella. That’s why Jews flocked into socialism and, to some degree, to Communism. That large umbrella gave them protection. Suffering from persecution for thousands of years, or certainly since the destruction of the temple, or slightly before that, Jews always went for universalist movements. 

But insofar as immigration, the kind of reservoir of immigrants that is available, and in the future would flood America, is clearly from the Muslim world, and that is not very complementary to letting the Jews continue live in freedom the way they have lived here in the United States. So I think that that is somewhat the picture. 

MR. FRUM: I’m going to shamelessly ignore the questions and pick up on one thing that Joe said and one thing that Stephen said and put them together as a practical answer. 

One of the questioners—there was a question about Americanization and then a question about the preaching of hatred in many American Muslim institutions. One of the things that Richard and I suggested in our book is look, when Bob Jones University wanted to put a ban on interracial dating they were told it’s a free country, university can do what it wants but you can not get a tax receipt if you promote such policies. Seems fair. It seems to me that if a building has a man in it who incites people to murder, that it ought not to be regarded as a bona fide educational or religious institution. The rule in America is you can do that unless it’s in a situation where it’s likely to cause an immediate commotion. On the other hand, it ought not to be tax deductible. 

And I think one of the ways . . . one of the most powerful tools against the incitement of hatred is the Bob Jones precedent and the use of the income tax code. That would be a practical suggestion for something that would make, I think, a lot of difference and spur Americanization. 

MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you, David. Steve, just quick last comments. 

MR. STEINLIGHT: Yeah, let me just answer a couple of things . . . my friend from Iran . . . Yes, there’s a lot of awareness of the problem of anti-Semitism among Latinos. I mean, I did a study for NCCJ some years ago. It was the largest inter-group study ever done. We found levels of 47-plus percent. There are a number of things that cause that. There’s no history of residential commonality the way there was, certainly, with African-Americans. Jews lived in the same neighborhoods for many years when they were poor. And Vatican II and post-Vatican II teaching has barely penetrated Latin America. 

Also, Latin American immigrants—of 60 percent from Mexico and Central America—tend to see Jews simply as the most privileged of white Americans with the additional virtue of having killed their God. (Laughter.) So this does not make for a good stew, but my guess is—this is hardly, by the way . . . I am not a supporter of illegal aliens from anywhere. But I am more hopeful that—as Joe I believe was saying—that within probably two generations the same way Polish peasants came to this country and loathing Jews—and I can point to many other East-Central European peoples who were theologically educated and politically educated to despite Jews because essentially Americanized and ceased to have those attitudes. 

I believe, for what it’s worth, that Latinos—Latino anti-Semitism is not fundamental to their worldview as their worldview shifts and their Catholicism shifts. I mean, the most hopeful inter-religious work probably in the last 40 years has been in Jewish-Catholic relations, primarily in this country and with the Vatican. So I see great promise there for those who will be legal and will stay. But the problem now is . . .you are pointing out a genuine problem. 

In terms of the point that was made a moment ago, I think there’s no question but that pluralism and secular liberalism were almost created by Jews in the first two decades of the 20th century. Think about people like Horace Kallen and others. I mean, that whole culture – that whole intellectual culture was basically a Jewish construct to shift America from being essentially a Protestant society where the public schools were basically Protestant common schools to open the doors to greater multiplicity. And, in fact, I say with pride that the first legal case the American Jewish Committee ever did was the Pierce case in 1924 to defend the rights of Roman Catholics to go to parochial schools. That took place in the – (audio break, tape change) – their presence as part of a hostile takeover to which they’re Koranically commanded to do. Jews have long been devotees of, and the model—in fact, if anything the model group that underwent patriotic assimilation. 

So, I would say that yes, in the beginning there was that – but I think Jews are very weary about groups unwilling to undergo patriotic assimilation. I think Jews struck a very good balance between a sense of group identity and a larger sense of national belonging to the United States. I think we are weary of groups that don’t strike that balance and are—we have grave concerns over the Muslim community. 

In terms of the . . . the only issue—I quite agree with that to the extent that tax dollars and tax codes can be used to regulate behavior, I’m all in favor of it. I think the problem with the madrassas is that they will remain entirely immune from that because the funding can come from outside the country. There is unending funds and the madrassas system, if anything, you can count on growing exponentially in this country and no amount of tax dollars or tax write-offs will affect that. 

In terms of my friend here who emigrated from Iran, I very much appreciate his comments. Jewish communities have suffered intolerably in these societies. It’s one of the stories that no one wants to talk about. Everyone is focused on Palestinian refugees. Most people have lost of the millions of Jews who were essentially thrown out or reduced to beggary or to fifth-class citizenship or held hostage by Islamic regime after Islamic regime after the advent of the state of Israel. 

I would also just like to add as a footnote that the Muslims with whom I work—and I work with many, many Muslims; again lapsed Muslims—they are on our side in terms of reducing immigration, and particularly reducing the immigration of devout Muslims because they know their very lives will be endangered. So when I talk to someone like Tashbe Said (ph) or Jamal Hassan (ph) or Khalid Duran or others, they say, we are with you 1000 percent. We don’t want having come into America groups of people who actually seek our death because we are apostates according to the most benighted kind of Islamic views of the world. We will find friends among progressives who came from the Islamic world. 

MR. KRIKORIAN: Thank you Steve, and David, and Joseph. Thank you all for coming. Again, Stephen’s paper—and his earlier paper from 2001, which I failed to mention was a Backgrounder for the center—are all on our website, along with all of our work at And I think at least some of the panelists will be willing to be accosted by further questions, but I’ll let people go now. 

Thank you very much. 


Topics: Jews