Monday, March 27, 2017

Balancing Compassion and Prudence

A passage from an article at Strategy Page caught my eye. The writer said this:
Most Israelis back the rebels [in Syria] and because of that many Syrians have come to see Israel as a friend rather than a threat. For example, Israel continues to quietly provide medical care for badly hurt Syrians who show up (usually at night) on the Israeli border. Since 2011 nearly 3,000 Syrians have been treated, most of them in the last two years. Israeli border guards regularly allowed badly wounded Syrians in and sent them to Israeli hospitals for medical care.

Until mid-2015 Israel would transport badly wounded Syrians to Israeli hospitals outside the Golan Heights. After 2015 treatment was provided at the border, using a temporary hospital set up there. By 2015 over a thousand Syrians had received such treatment. In 2013 Israel set up a military field hospital on the Golan Heights to deal with the growing number of wounded Syrians.

Israel lets some of these in for treatment but considers doing this long-term a security risk. So a heavily guarded field hospital right near the Syrian border is now used to treat all the injured. No Syrians will be moved to the interior because of fears that Islamic terror groups are seeking to infiltrate their people into Israel via the hospital care program.
Let's consider this. Unless they already harbor anti-Israeli sentiments most who read this would consider what Israel is doing to be an outstanding example of compassionate humanitarian assistance to people fleeing violence and in need of help. They would doubtless think this despite the fact that the Israelis, out of a prudential fear of terrorism, do not admit these refugees into the interior of their country. Most would probably say that the Israeli policy is understandable given the history and hatreds in the region for Israelis.

So why would it be wrong of Americans or Europeans to adopt a similar policy toward refugees? Why would it be "hateful" and "bigoted" and "racist" and "immoral", etc. if the United States helped refugees where they are instead of feeling that we're terrible people unless we bring millions of them into our own country? What Israel is doing is exactly right, of course. Indeed, it's extraordinary. How many of Israel's Muslim neighbors, after all, would do the same for them? Why, then, could we not follow their example and set up safe zones for refugees from the war in Syria in their own land or in contiguous countries which are ethnically and culturally similar?

Such safe zones would involve sacrifice on our part, to be sure, but it would strike a balance between compassion for desperate people and a prudent concern for minimizing threats to our own children here at home. On the other hand, to import millions of people who despise our way of life, who consider us infidels, and who have no real wish to assimilate into our culture, who, in fact, believe that our culture should actually be subordinated to their religion, is not compassionate toward either them or us and it's certainly not wise.