The mayor or New York reportedly drew some criticism from Syrian Jews for comparing Muslim refugees fleeing their homeland with Jews fleeing the Holocaust.
Bill de Blasio received warm applause as he vowed to keep New York Jews safe as terror fears are heightened but there were ripples of disapproval when he brought up the Syrian Muslim refugee crisis during his speech at Brooklyn’s Congregation Shaare Zion, Sunday’s New York Post reports.
“I know this community understands deeply the pain of any family that must leave a homeland they love because they were forced away by violence and discrimination,” he said. “When it comes to saving children and families from one of the greatest crises of our times, I remind people to look at history,”
Syrian Jews were not victims of Nazi Holocaust, but they suffered persecution in their homeland. There was a vibrant, well-to-do community of 30,000 Jews in Syria in the late 1940 but by the ’70s, the population had dwindled to 2,000 after waves of repression by the government of Hafez al-Assad, the father of current Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“The difference between me coming here in 1991 with my family is that we were kicked out for being Jewish,” one congregant told The Post.
“I don’t think it’s a fair comparison … The Jews never had a history of being destructive,” said another synagogue member, Judy Zarug.
“This nation has to be a beacon for the world,” de Blasio said, noting the resistance Americans had to the first waves of Jews escaping from the Nazis. “This city of immigrants is still a beacon of hope.”
He noted, however, that the refugees must be thoroughly screened.
The mayor’s office criticized The Post’s characterization of the mayor’s reception as chilly.
The crowd erupted in applause when he promised to keep New York Jews safe in the wake of attacks in Paris and elsewhere, an audiotape provided by the mayor’s office said.
“We will be vigilant,” he said.