Statement by the Brandeis University Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies on President Donald Trump’s January 27, 2017 Executive Order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”
As scholars of ancient Near Eastern religions; as well as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; and their past and present cultures, languages, and histories, we are outraged by the Executive Order to suspend entry to refugees and to all non-U.S. citizens from seven majority-Muslim nations, and, after suspension, to prefer refugees of one religion over another.
As a department founded by refugee scholars, we are acutely aware of the plight of refugees through the millennia, including attempts to refuse entry to Irish Catholics in the 1840s, and, owing to the disastrous impact of the 1924 National Origins Act, the turning away of Jewish refugees in the 1930s and 1940s, many to their deaths. The President’s issuing of the Order on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, on which he did not mention Jews or anti-Semitism, is particularly unfortunate.
The Executive Order’s statement reveals its callousness by stating, “the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including ‘honor’ killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own),” even as it refuses entry to the very victims and potential victims of those crimes.
As scholars educating our students to question religious and ethnic stereotypes through in-depth engagement, we call on our government to rescind this Order, to welcome refugees fleeing persecution and to apply no religious preferences to refugees. We celebrate the diversity that immigration has brought to the United States, and are dismayed that our nation, a country built by immigrants, has not learned the lessons of the past, of the imperative for humanitarian and moral action.
Meet Brandeis' Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies
One of the largest and most diverse programs of its kind, Near Eastern and Judaic Studies (NEJS) is dedicated to intellectual openness andengagement with critical questions of history, literature, religion, and culture relating to the Bible and the Ancient Near East, Jewish Studies, and Arabic and Islamic Civilizations. Pursue a degree with leading scholars dedicated to the finest instruction, mentoring, and preparation for life after Brandeis.
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