“Jewish Americans have a halakhic obligation to support a wise Syrian refugee immigration policy, but the specifics of what that would be?”

Jewish Americans have a halakhic obligation to support a wise policy, but the specifics of what that would be? I have seen some public (non-Orthodox) statements citing everything from the redemption of captives to the obligation to love one’s neighbor as oneself but I simply do not think these apply in a technical sense, and even if they did, do I fulfill that mitzvah more completely by opening the door to immigration or by establishing safe zones in Syria? A case can and has been made that the admission of a small number of refugees to this country is really just a cynical ploy to excuse our utter inaction and exacerbation of the situation in Syria itself. After all, if we have a quasi-halakhic obligation to take 10,000, why not 100,000 or a million?

From my point of view, Modern Orthodoxy should stand for a more minimalist halakhic position that recognizes the autonomy of our decision making where there is no obvious reason to impose a halakhic din. The most I think halakha can do in a case like this is point to some of the values we want to weigh and balance, without presuming to point to a specific “psak.” Otherwise, we should appoint a moetzet rather than voting for Congress.

While we are on the subject though, I will say that while I think the danger of terror attacks is actually not negligible and not just a Trumped-up concern (pun-intended), I am actually more worried about the long-term growth of antisemitism in this country from mass immigration from the Arab and Muslim world (distinct from the relatively small issue of 10,000 Syrian refugees), and I do not think we have to be ashamed to take this into consideration. Europe has become widely unlivable for Jewish communities not just because of famous terror attacks but because of persistent incitement, harassment and small scale but frightening violence. It surprises me that none of the Jewish voices vociferously pushing for increased immigration have raised this issue. It strikes me as an important part of the story.

[name redacted], email (7 December 2015).