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Exclusive: HIAS Resorts to E-Blast McCarthyism The Jewish community’s appropriate position on legal and illegal mass immigration is one of debate, including here at Jewcy. But HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), which now spends the bulk of its resources advocating … Read More

By / April 1, 2009

Exclusive: HIAS Resorts to E-Blast McCarthyism The Jewish community’s appropriate position on legal and illegal mass immigration is one of debate, including here at Jewcy. But HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), which now spends the bulk of its resources advocating for non-Jewish immigration, wants to preempt debate, and is using deplorable means to achieve that end. To be clear, despite backing of the mainstream alphabet soup organizations for its “Progress By Pesach” initiative, not all Jews are certain that amnesty for “undocumented” workers (referenced as “a path to citizenship”) or an end to raids on rogue employers are truly beneficial for the Jewish community specifically or for the U.S. generally.  But HIAS presents Jewish communal support for amnesty and an end to raids on companies defying U.S. law as if this is a unanimous, uncontested opinion in the Jewish community. Leading the resistance in the affiliated Jewish community is Dr. Stephen Steinlight. Steinlight has provided a long-standing, if independent-minded (this is a bad thing?) service to the Jewish community, including at the American Jewish Committee, the US Holocaust Museum, and the National Conference of Christians and Jews, prior to his work at CIS. Now, he is being promoted as a persona non grata by HIAS through McCarthyite tactics.  This email was sent to various Jewish newspapers and organizations by Roberta Elliot, the HIAS V.P. of media and communications:

Dear editor – This note is not for publication. In the next few days, you may receive an op-ed piece staking a position against “Progress by Pesach,” a campaign launched recently by a large coalition of national and local Jewish groups who favor comprehensive immigration reform. If this op-ed comes from an author who works either at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) or the Center for Immigration Studies, it is important for you to know the origin of these groups—they were founded and are funded by an individual in Michigan who is a white nationalist and foments nativist groups. Attached is a press release that HIAS distributed several weeks ago and pasted below is a link to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s press release on three anti-immigration groups, including FAIR and CIS. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Notice how Elliot is slandering CIS and Steinlight through guilt of non-association with a non-existant connection to FAIR based upon a 1985 letter from someone not even involved with CIS. The SPLC had to go that far back to come up with even that. While this specific email did not target Steinlight by name, another one did. In addition to another  nonsensical attempt to link CIS to FAIR and John Tanton, Elliot noted,

“This report confirms that which all of us in favor of just and compassionate immigration laws have known for a long time – that the policies of these three high-profile groups are intertwined with the ideology of the nativist fringe,” said Aronoff. Their penetration in the Jewish community has been primarily through appearances before Jewish groups by Steven Steinlight, senior policy analyst at CIS, and opinion pieces and interviews in the Jewish press.  His legitimacy is enhanced because he previously worked for a Jewish organization.  Likewise, the three organizations have also attempted to penetrate the African-American and Latino communities through a similar model.

Oh, heavens. Steinlight has not only attempted to influence his own community, which in fact, he long-ago “penetrated,” but even more egregious, Steinlight and CIS have dared to offer counter-arguments about mass immigration to Hispanics and Blacks, which is exceptionally problematic, since clearly HIAS owns, operates, and speaks on behalf (and to) these communities as well, and they don’t need to hear any second opinions either, thank you very much.

At the apparent professional risk of violating HIAS orders, you may read Steinlight’s essays here and here. Please check to make sure you don’t have a controversial letter from 1985 lying around from someone who has nothing to do with your organization before doing so. In today’s dark times, one can’t be too careful. 

It should go without saying that the Jewish community should not be influenced by the poisonous censorship attempts of Gideon Aronoff (president and CEO of HIAS) or his employed McCarthyites to preempt Steinlight’s dissent and opinions (or anyone else who dares to disagree with Aronoff) from being heard, nor should we be dissuaded from discussion by HIAS or SPLC attempts at guilt by non-association. Aronoff should be forced to advocate his position in the marketplace of ideas, which has been the Jewish way since time immemorial. This debate should absolutely include Stephen Steinlight. Judging by the ass-whooping Aronoff received at the hands of John Derbyshire previously on Jewcy, Aronoff may have good reason to fear an open debate. That’s his problem. Not ours. But when a New Jersey Hadassah chapter cancels Steinlight’s appearance because it was  “ordered” by the legal department at Hadassah’s national office to do so, or when the JTA’s Eric Fingerhut pens a press release article about Progress By Pesach devoid not only of a Steinlight counterpoint, but of any criticism of the Progress By Progress campaign, this has indeed become our problem. And when the Jewish press is (so far) strangely silent about the tactics being employed by HIAS, we know how serious the problem truly is. And this may be greatly understating the severity of the situation. The next couple of weeks will probably reveal a lot.

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