Nov 17, 2015

Allentown and The Syrian Refugee Issue


When my grandfather first arrived in Allentown he lived in the Ward, on 2nd. Street. It was around 1895 and the neighborhood was full of immigrants. Some groups came from the same area in the old country, most noticeably the Syrians, from the village of Amar*. They were Antiochian Orthodox, a minority in a Muslim country. The congregation of St. George's Church on Catasauqua Ave., largely is descended from those immigrants. Well known names in Allentown, such as Atiyeh, Haddad, Hanna, Makoul, Koury and Joseph are among their members. They were among one of the first groups to organize, and those organizations still exist. The photo above was organized by the Syrian American Organization in 1944. Note that Jewish, on the left, is treated as a nationality.

reprinted from previous posts

ADDENDUM: As a result of the Paris attack, a backlash seems to have developed against accepting refugees from Syria. The governor of Michigan, which has a large Arab-American population, rescinded his previous invitation, along with other governors. Allentown has one of larger Syrian American populations in the country, going back over 100 years. While most of the Syrians here are Christian, most of the refugees are Muslim, as are the victims in the current Syrian civil war. With both Pawlowski and Wolf extending an invitation, Allentown may see a significant number of the new refugees.

28 comments:

Jamie Kelton said...

This is not like any other war we have been involved in. Our enemy works by stealth. They bomb airliners. They fly airplanes into buildings. They attack people at restaurants. In concert halls, at sporting events. They do not fight against soldiers. They terrorize civilians as their strength is fear, not armed strength.

ISIS vowed last February to send a half-a-million-man army to Europe via refugee migration, and now they have done it. How does President Obama know who they are and why they are coming? How can he possibly tell who they are? How can our intelligence agencies determine if they are jihadists? Many do not even have legal documents to their identity. All they have is their word. Also it has been reported that many of the migrants who have recently come to Europe are not Syrian.

I also recall just a few short months ago that Pawlowski did not want to fly the Syrian flag for a few symbolic moments in front of City Hall. Why is he so welcoming now when he wasn't then ?

Anonymous said...

Allowing Syrian refugees into the country at this time is an awful decision by a terrible President, an inept Governor, and a Mayor under investigation by the FBI.

Until the Leftist Democrats that run this country realize that we are at war with radical Islam, we are doomed.

michael molovinsky said...

anon@6:25 and others; who is at war with us is very complicated, as is the battlefield in Syria. i will attempt to host reasonable comments, some of which I may not agree with, but Islamophobic comments will not be printed.

Anonymous said...

Obama and his apologists/collaborators refuse to see the world for what it is and cling instead to their stubborn misbegotten belief that altruism and acquiescence will lead to peace and understanding.Despots,fascists, and fanatics see this thinking as weakness and welcome the opportunity to exploit such naivete.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:25 here:

Did I say anything "Islamophobic"?

I'm not trying to be confrontational, but honestly want to know. Our President and the entire Democrat Presidential field seems to have a problem saying the words "radical Islam", and I truly don't understand why.

To me, "radical Islam" denotes the segment of Muslims who think it's ok to kill others to forward their religion. Whether the President and other Democrats want to admit it or not, that segment of Islam is at war with us, and they are killing in the name of their religion (they tell us so after every attack).

I don't view the term as a description of all Muslims, but think it's important that our leaders can acknowledge the problem. If they can't even name the problem, how do they ever stop it?

My concern is that many, including our President, think "Islamophobia" is a bigger problem than Islamic terrorism. Instead of responding to the Paris attacks with statements of resolve that those responsible will be hunted down to the ends of the earth, our President used the attacks as an opportunity to remind us that the attacks are not representative of Islam.

I think we're all aware of that, and have been so for years. Instead of fighting the non-life threatening bogeyman of anti-Muslim discrimination, I wish he would get focused on fighting those who are doing the killing.

Anonymous said...

Who is paying the bills in terms of food and shelter for all these new "migrants"? We can't even take care of the homeless people we already have in the United States. Why, then, do we want even more homeless people from Syria?

michael molovinsky said...

@6:25&8:40, if i considered your comment(s) Islamophobia, i would have not printed it. however, radical Islam is too general a term, and could cause people to be miscast as enemies. there are certain defined groups that have emerged, and are not bashful about identifying themselves. it would be better to deal in specifics and avoid generalities. your point of view is well defined in comment 8:40, so with your permission we will leave it at that.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Molovinsky

The issue is the fear that what happened in Paris and also the Russian Airliner being bombed will happen here. It's not Islamophobia.

It's simply the fear of another 9/11 attack in some way, shape or form. The image of going to a restraunt or some other place and being mowed down by some religious fanatic with a Kalashnikov overrules our hearts.

Once bitten, twice shy.

michael molovinsky said...

@8:53, there certainly is a humanitarian crisis with Syrian refugees, and almost all are not terrorists, but rather feel that they are fleeing terror. those concerned that they cannot be properly vetted also have a point, especially in light of paris this past weekend. all refugees are homeless by definition. presently, i feel that we should met our commitment, but avoid doubling down on either side of the issue.

Reality Bites said...

Why don't we take care of our homeless veterans first? We have homeless mothers with children that need places to live.

Foreigners can wait till we take care of our own that need help.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me Mike ? Radical Islam is to strong term, is to general a term? It is what it is. It is the perfect term to capture the generalized form of the radical jihadist Muslim movement through out the middle east today. I'm all for bringing in Christian Syrians, and the Yazidis, but unless the good Governor Wolf is willing to set up some sort of Pennsylvania Ellis Island, I say no to importation of Syrian Muslims in general without a strong vetting process along with the other 25 states that have said no.

Ted Yost

doug_b said...

Liberals have no problem being generous with our money, but it's shocking that they are also generous with our security.

In the last several weeks there are 220 dead Russians + 150 dead French + 350 wounded French. All innocent people. Keep possible terrorists out - what other logical conclusion can there be?

Having worked for the DoD my belief is that sometime in the future a terrorist organization with obtain an 'NBC' device (either Nuclear, Biological, or Chemical). These devices are not easy to deliver or detonate - however you could blow it up - and have a dirty bomb. Kill or contaminate a large area / number of people. And at that point, some country's leader is going to decide to put an end to it with a tactical nuclear weapon. It's the apocalypse ISIS is looking for.

Anonymous said...

Update, it is now 27 States. Not 25

Ted Yost

Anonymous said...

I was always told Allentown Christian Syrians left Syria to be free from Islamic harrassment. I guess all the Old Timers were wrong.

spencer said...

Most of the Syrian community in allentown, supports Assad, unlike Obama.. I was told this is because Assad protects the Christian minority over there, something other middle eastern leaders wouldn't bother to do..

Anyways, one has to wonder.. we give the Saudi's, and a bunch of other Arab states foreign aid... why isn't obama forcing the neighboring countries to take in these Refugees? Why is this Europe and America's problem? Must the West, and the USA be the dumping ground for the world's refugees and problems?

We have our own problems to deal with, our own poor to feed and shelter, we've done our fair share as Europeans and Americans to help those in need around the world, it's time someone else stood up to the plate for this one.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious on the views of the local Syrian community about the arrival of these refugees. Will they be welcomed?

michael molovinsky said...

anon @11:07. their current support for assad is supposedly based on the consideration afforded the christian community by his father. religious persecution brought a lot of people to america

Anonymous said...

Mike,

It is apparent that many Muslims live under and believe in theocratic/sharia law governments. Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Pakistan,Egypt...are to name a few. To the average western thinker this is already "radical" as none us would agree to, or want to live under such religious based strictures.

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

To complicate the situation further, a story on Breitbart describes a CNS News study of Syrian refugees admitted into this country shows a total number of 2098 persons since 2011. Of that number, ONLY 53 ARE CHRISTIANS!

If accurate, this study gives me pause and should concern everyone reading. This is something you will probably not read in the Morning Call, Express-Times, or on WFMZ.

Although I am hopeful new arriving Syrians will be as responsible and decent neighbors as our present Syrian locals, great caution should be observed in vetting these refugees. Unfortunately, the Obama administration prefers a mostly OPEN HOUSE national border with minimal protections.


Fred Windish

michael molovinsky said...

@11:36, in absence of a member of the Syrian community commenting; at least one official of a local Syrian American organization expressed some doubts about the refugees, because the local community is mostly pro-Assad, while the refugees are mostly anti-Assad.

fred@12:15, the small number of Christians is not surprising, in that they are a small minority in Syria

Anonymous said...

You provide a necessary and important explanation, Michael. Thank you. I just don't have confidence in this administration's desire to sort out the 'risky' arrivals. Right now, growing the country's Muslim community deserves special consideration and in-depth scrutiny. We've already seen too many mistakes in this process. One example, the Boston attack.

Fred Windish

Anonymous said...

"Almost all"?

How reassuring, especially considering it only takes one person to detonate a bomb.

michael molovinsky said...

@5:27, and it takes only one anonymous person to yell "fire" in a movie theater. hundreds of thousands of people are not sleeping in tents in jordan and turkey with their children, because they want to come to united states to detonate a bomb. we have experienced attacks here, and the paranoia isn't inexplicable, however, in my opinion the humanitarian crisis trumps our fear.

Anonymous said...

Mike,

It is worth remembering, and pointing out that when our great grand parents came to this country they did so with the full knowledge and understanding that they would assimilate to the existing culture. They could keep their native language, religion, and any wild ideas,but understood America was about work, business, freedom, liberty. They knew better than to expect handouts from the government and understood the best advice was to get work, any work, right away. Once they found work they did their best to learn English, save their money, and make sure their children put their noses to the grindstone in "free"and excellent public school system.
Does anyone want to make the case immigration today in any way mirrors this?

Scott Armstrong

michael molovinsky said...

scott@6:43, we have to differentiate between immigrants and refugees. somebody on facebook asked today why these people were leaving syria? i can only surmise that she never saw pictures of the total destruction there.

Anonymous said...

Many of those coming to Europe and America are coming from camps in Turkey. They are safe there but life is unpleasant. Who can blame them for wanting better. That said; in light of the fact that there is a very active Jihadist movement and a Caliphate in the their homeland it is merely prudent to make sure we aren't importing and providing benefits to those who wish to kills us, many of us, all of us...

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

Do the words inscribed on the Statute of Liberty no longer mean anything in the US? For the most part immigrants who came here were fleeing some type of persecution or discrimination whether it was ethnic or religious. Tolerance is what distinguished the USA from many other places around the globe. Accepting refugees and helping them adjust and integrate into their communities is who we are as Americans. With 65 million displaced persons around the globe the least we can do is to accept 10,000 to 20,000 to the US. With the strong Syrian community in the LV this is a logical pleace for welcome them. Twenty years ago it was the refugees from Bosnia who arrived here, supported by various religious organizations in the are they quickly integrated into the community, learingin English, getting jobs, buying homes and educating their children.
Intolerance and xenophobia are contrary to the founding principles of our country, and I am sad to see it.

Anonymous said...

12:01,

The Obama Administration is allowing/facilitating xenophobia and intolerance flood into this country. America and the west are the most tolerant and diverse nations in the world. Spare us the notion that this tolerance requires us to have a blind eye to those who enter our country.

Scott Armstrong