Today, in response to an executive order closing the door to immigrants and refugees based on their national origin and Muslim faith, Daniel Sokatch, CEO of the New Israel Fund (NIF), released the following statement:
“As a proud, patriotic American Jew, I’m grateful that our country gave refuge to my grandparents and great-grandparents, who came to this country seeking the American promise of refuge, freedom, and opportunity.
“Like me, and like most Americans, President Trump comes from a family of immigrants. His family, too, sought safety, security and prosperity in America, and America welcomed them. His mother immigrated from Scotland in 1929, as the world plunged into the Great Depression. His grandfather immigrated from Germany around the turn of the century. And of course his wife, first lady Melania Trump, immigrated from the former Yugoslavia and became an American just over a decade ago.
“So it is not only exceptionally cruel and disgracefully un-American for President Trump to shut our doors to those from any nationality, religion, or ethnicity — including Muslims. It is also hypocritical and short-sighted. President Trump should know, more than anyone, that immigrants and refugees make our country stronger. Stoking fear and xenophobia is a betrayal of the values we hold dear, and is unbefitting an American president.
“At NIF, we’ve worked hard to help Israel live up to the Jewish value of welcoming the stranger through our work with refugees and asylum-seekers who fled persecution in places like Darfur and Eritrea. We know that welcoming refugees can be difficult, but it is vital for any liberal democracy.
“We also know that welcoming refugees means welcoming exceptional people like Mutasim Ali, Israel’s first Darfurian to receive refugee status. This year, on his first visit to the United States, Mutasim told an audience of American NIF supporters, “Asylum-seekers, like so many, came to Israel to seek safety from terrible atrocities we had no choice but to escape. We came to contribute to Israeli society. We are an asset – not a threat.””
The New Israel Fund supports democracy and equality for all Israelis.