Jewish organizations' reactions mixed on travel ban ruling

HIAS, ADL disappointed by U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to allow parts of Trump’s travel ban to be enforced, CJV, ZOA pleased.

JTA and Arutz Sheva Staff ,

U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Supreme Court

Two Jewish organizations in the United States on Monday expressed disappointment over the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to allow parts of President Donald Trump’s travel ban to be enforced.

The court said it would hear the appeals of two cases that had resulted from the travel ban, which aimed to keep the citizens from six predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days.

The court agreed to stay parts of rulings that had blocked the ban from being enforced. The partial stay means that foreigners with no U.S. ties could be prohibited from entering the country, while those with ties such as through business or personal relationship would remain unaffected.

The travel ban in question is an updated order issued by Trump after his initial order was dismissed by the court. The order is temporary, until proper vetting procedures – a central campaign promise of Trump’s – can be implemented.

In response, the Jewish resettlement organization HIAS called the announcement “mixed news” in a statement, praising it for limiting some of the executive order’s reach but criticizing the court for partially allowing the executive order to be enforced.

“HIAS welcomes the ruling as an affirmation that the president does not have unfettered unchecked authority to bar refugees from the United States without evidence to justify such action,” said the group’s CEO and president, Mark Hetfield.

HIAS is among the plaintiffs suing Trump in one of the cases the Supreme Court agreed to take on.

Hetfield criticized the fact that those without ties could now be barred from entering the United States.

“We are very disappointed, however, that others will be arbitrarily excluded,” Hetfield said. “Certainly in the case of refugees, this order will have a tragic toll on those who have fled for their lives and played by our rules to find refuge in the United States.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) also praised the court for limiting the scope of the order but criticized it for partially allowing it to be enforced.

“We were pleased that the court appropriately recognized that there are limitations on the president’s authority when it comes to immigration generally. But the court’s failure to recognize the plight of the world’s most endangered refugees – those fleeing countries where their lives are in imminent danger – is profoundly disappointing,” its national director and CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, said in a statement.

The Coalition For Jewish Values (CJV) welcomed the US Supreme Court decision permitting President Trump to limit entry from six countries known to the US State Department as "presenting heightened concerns about terrorism" as a victory for "common sense." The Court allowed the bulk of the Trump travel ban to stand, while permitting entry from those with a "bona fide relationship with any person or entity in the United States."

"This is a common sense decision," said Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld, a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the CJV. "It is only natural that a country needs to maintain its right to refuse entry to anyone coming from a country that has shown hostility to its citizens."

In particular, the CJV addressed claims by some Jewish groups that Jewish tradition requires open immigration, and the comparison of refugees from current conflicts, e.g. in Syria, to the plight of Jewish refugees from the Nazis of the 1930s. Whereas the Jewish refugees were non-violent, found no country willing to harbor them and were persecuted simply for being Jews, Arabs from Syria have a choice of over twenty countries in the Arab world, and most major parties in the current conflict have a history of violence. "While it is true that our Torah commands us to 'Love the sojourner as yourselves (Leviticus 19:33),'" said Rabbi Schonfeld, "We are equally duty-bound to avoid those nations that display enmity towards us and our values (Deuteronomy 23:4)."

His colleague Rabbi Steven Pruzansky pointed out that "no country allows unlimited immigration," and added that "nations have a natural and sensible right to limit access based on concerns of security, assimilability, shared values and culture, and other national interests."

The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), directed by prominent rabbinic leaders and representing over 160 rabbis across North America, articulates an authentic Jewish perspective on current events, and promotes Jewish values through writing and teaching derived from traditional Jewish thought.

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton Klein released the following statement:

The ZOA praises the U.S. Supreme Court for in large part staying (essentially lifting) the preliminary injunctions barring enforcement of President Trump’s Executive Order No. 13780, entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” The Supreme Court’s decision allowing most of President Trump’s Executive Order to go into effect is an important, much needed step enabling the President to fulfill his promises to the nation and his sacred most, basic Constitutional duty of protecting all Americans (including Jewish Americans) from infiltration by terrorists affiliated with ISIS, Hezbollah and other foreign terrorist organizations.

In addition, ZOA especially agrees with and praises the opinion written by Justice Thomas, joined in by Justices Alito and Gorsuch (a concurrence in part, and dissent in part), which stated that the injunctions should have been fully stayed. To fully protect the nation, the Executive Order should have been allowed to go into effect in its entirety. The national security and safety of Americans – indeed takes precedence over temporary denials of entry into the United States.

Almost daily attacks and attempted attacks throughout the world reinforce the importance of protecting U.S. citizens from ISIS and other foreign terrorist infiltration. Islamist immigrants Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaevs and Tashfeen Malik perpetrated the deadly Boston marathon bombing and San Bernadino massacre in the U.S. The perpetrators of the gruesome Bataclan concert terrorist attack in Paris, in which hundreds of innocents were murdered and injured, included a Syrian refugee and possibly others from the same area (who had forged Turkish passports). (e.g., Paris Attacks: Syrian Migrant Was Among the Bombers,” Wall Street Journal, Nov. 14, 2015.)

Just this month, on June 6, 2017, a foreign doctoral student and “soldier of ISIS” attacked a police officer outside Notre Dame cathedral, while yelling “this is for Syria.” Iranian refugee to Australia Man Horan a/k/a Mohammed Hassan Manteghi Borujerdi, after helping murder his ex-wife and pledging allegiance to ISIS, perpetrated the 17-hour siege of the Lindt Chocolate Café in Sydney, which resulted in the deaths of two innocents. Back in February, CNN reported that ISIS has killed over 2,000 innocents in 29 countries. (“ISIS Goes Global: 143 Attacks in 29 Countries have Killed 2,043,” by Tim Lister, Ray Sanchez, Mark Bixler, Sean O’Key, Michael Hogenmiller and Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN, Feb. 13, 2017.) The numbers have risen further since then.

ZOA is thus grateful that the Supreme Court is enabling President Trump to protect U.S. citizens.