Holocaust Museum Calls on Americans to Accept Syrian Refugees

'While recognizing that security concerns must be fully addressed, we should not turn our backs on the thousands of legitimate refugees,' the museum says.

A pro-refugee protester shouts during a demonstration iat the Washington State capitol in Olympia, 20, 2015.
Reuters

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. has called on American lawmakers and the public not to turn their backs on Syrian refugees seeking asylum in the United States.

The call was contained in a statement issued late last week, only hours after legislators had voted to pass a bill that would make it difficult for the refugees to receive asylum and in the midst of a flurry of anti-refugee comments by Republican presidential candidates.

"Acutely aware of the consequences to Jews who were unable to flee Nazism, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum looks with concern upon the current refugee crisis," the statement said.

"While recognizing that security concerns must be fully addressed, we should not turn our backs on the thousands of legitimate refugees.

"The Museum calls on public figures and citizens to avoid condemning today’s refugees as a group. It is important to remember that many are fleeing because they have been targeted by the Assad regime and ISIS for persecution and in some cases elimination on the basis of their identity."

The statement was "perhaps reflective of growing sentiments among North America’s Jewish communities; a recollection of policies that kept those fleeing terror and persecution in Nazi-occupied Europe from settling down in the United States," according to an article on the Quartz website.

The 85,000 Jewish refugees who managed to get asylum in the U.S. between 1933 and Nazi Germany’s surrender in 1945, were “far below the number seeking refuge,” according to the museum's literature.

“The State Department worried that among the Jewish refugees there would be Nazi spies There was hysteria about fifth columnists coming in with the refugees, said Marion Kaplan, a professor of Hebrew and Judaic studies at New York University, in an interview with The New York Times.