Jan 31, 2017

Whitehall Inherits Allentown's Syrians

Back in day, when demolition began to build the arena and Reillytown, Whitehall's Ed Hozza was cutting the ribbons with Ed Pawlowski. At the time, I questioned what he was doing there. Hozza's enthusiasm for Allentown's project quickly waned, as he realized truck after truck was dumping the former ground up buildings into  Whitehall's quarry. If that wasn't insult enough for Hozza's support, within two years Pawlowski would be supporting Hozza's current opponent. Although Hozza may have lost Pawlowski's support, there's a new power broker in Whitehall, the former Allentown Syrian community. The Syrians in Allentown developed their political influence back in the days of District Attorney George Joseph. Voting as a block, the Democratic Club in the ward could be counted on in local elections, and numerous Syrians ended up working in various departments of Allentown City government. Through inter-marriage and relationships, many non-Syrian names became part of the base, even including extended members of my family. Although that power base has shifted north in the last 15 years, it took Pawlowski's refusal to raise the Syrian flag to make the move official. In the future, the flags will be raised in Whitehall.

reprinted from April of 2015

UPDATE January 31,2017: While much of the older Syrian Christian community has migrated to Whitehall, many of the newer Muslim immigrants from Syria are moving into the 6th Ward,  a traditional starting spot for many immigrants to our city.  The last two years have made the story of the Syrians complex.  The same can be said for Pawlowski, Allentown and even the country.  The older Syrian community remain staunch Democrats. The newer immigrants will of course be preoccupied with their new surroundings.  According to the paper, the local Syrian population is under 4,000. I was surprised, their influence is much larger.

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