The bastard who murdered Jews in Pittsburgh left a final social media rant:

“HIAS likes to bring invaders that kill our people. I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I’m going in.” The killer referred to the Jewish refugee resettlement agency founded in 1881 as the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.

I served on the board of HIAS and was in fact its youngest member when elected some years ago.

The murderer joined other extremists in spreading the lie that HIAS is a conspirator in “white genocide” seeking to destroy the “white race” by aiding immigration of non-whites.  Anyone who thinks that the unspeakable mayhem in Pittsburgh, and the killer’s sense of urgency in “going in,” is disconnected  from the caustic rhetoric directed at the “caravan” heading to the United States is off his or her rocker.

Spewing hatred begets hatred. And hatred can beget murder as happened in this case. The vicious rhetoric directed at persons seeking asylum in the United States, calling them part of an “invasion,” an act of war,  is an affront to the asylum seekers and to the laws of the United States approving asylum.

Those approaching the border and seeking asylum may get it or may not get it. Some may be permitted to enter and some may not depending on whether the asylum seeker can demonstrate to impartial fact finders that the legal requirements of asylum are met.

The process of seeking asylum, and asylum itself, has opponents. They have two choices (and only two): get the law changed or failing that, observe the law. That’s it. No public official seeking to stop asylum through force, outside the legal process, as it may be amended or legally abrogated,  deserves to serve in public office.

One such official with a sixteen-word vocabulary has described the immigration laws as “horrible.” Let him get the laws changed or let him enforce them.

What about HIAS?

From its founding by Jacob Schiff and others HIAS was in the business of assisting Jews to leave the places where they were under attack and to bring them to the United States for resettlement around the country through sister resettlement agencies that found them homes and jobs. In New York the actual resettlement agency was NYANA, The New York Association for New Americans.

Throughout its history, HIAS has also assisted non-Jewish refugees to leave when they had to go or else to suffer. Recently, non-Jewish migration has been the focus of HIAS. Along with other agencies, HIAS is contracted with the government to perform these NGO functions.

Perhaps the most famous migration supported by HIAS was the large migration of Jews in the Soviet Union to places other than Israel, especially to the United States. (Israeli migration was supported by the Jewish Agency, the immigration arm of the State of Israel, in a sometimes -troubled partnership with HIAS.  The State of Israel wanted all to go to Israel and HIAS stood for freedom of choice by Soviet Jews who had plenty of practice in heroism and could not be directed or influenced to do anything that they did not want to do.)

The only way a Jew could get out of the USSR was through the granting of a “vyzov”  by the Soviets based  on family reunification outside of the Soviet Union. On the theory that “all Jews are brothers and sisters,” I signed as a relative of dozens of Soviet Jews whom I’d never met and they all made it out. The Soviets were well aware of this ruse and let Jews out anyway in numbers based on the state of Soviet-U.S. relations at the time.

On any given day, Jews are under duress somewhere in the world and always have been. That’s why HIAS has existed, to provide help “wherever the migrant.” I am proud of my service to the agency. And I am proud that HIAS has become a force to bring needy and suffering non -Jews to freedom, wherever the migrant, in the tradition of charity so ingrained in Judaism.

Long may it be!