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 The governor of Michigan, which has a large Arab-American population, rescinded his previous invitation, along with other governors.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.