Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Breaking News

HIAS Chief Slams Donald Trump Jr. for ‘Shameful’ Skittles Jibe at Refugees

— Dehumanizing and politicizing refugees is “shameful” and our leaders must know it is unacceptable, the head of a refugee advocacy group said a day after the son of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump compared Syrian refugees to the fruit-flavored candy Skittles.

“Persecution always starts with dehumanization. Often times this is done in jest, making people objects of derision while taking away their human qualities. Likening refugees to diseases or to junk food, like candy, is a particularly egregious example of how refugees could be dehumanized,” Mark Hetfield, the president of HIAS, said in a statement issued Tuesday.

Donald Trump Jr. made the candy reference on Monday, tweeting “If I had a bowl of skittles and I told you just three would kill you. Would you take a handful? That’s our Syrian refugee problem.”

This image says it all. Let’s end the politically correct agenda that doesn’t put America first. #trump2016

— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) September 19, 2016

The Hetfield statement went on to say: “Minimizing the human cost of the most severe refugee crisis in history is shameful in any context. When refugees — people who leave their entire lives behind simply in search of safety — are politicized and used to fan the toxic flames of xenophobia, we have an obligation to let our leaders know it is unacceptable.”

HIAS, formerly the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, was founded in 1881 to help Jewish immigrants fleeing pogroms in Russia and Eastern Europe.

Hetfield said the current refugee crisis and world reaction to it should “resonate deeply” in the Jewish community, “which remembers the plight of Jewish refugees who were turned away during World War II when they had nowhere else to go.”

“Then, as now, refugees were falsely cast as a threat, rather than sheltered from the threats they were fleeing. We cannot allow ourselves to make the same mistakes for the same reasons.”


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.