September 15, 2005

John Podhoretz on immigration

A reader writes:

I attended a forum in Skokie outside of Chicago sponsored by the Jewish Policy Center (JPC) — the think tank offshoot of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC). The forum consisted of a moderator – Michael Medved, and four presenters, including John Podhoretz and David Horowitz.

I would say about 300 people showed up for the event, a lot considering it was a nice afternoon and both the Bears and Sox were playing.

The audience (naturally) had lots of questions about Israel. And here is where John Podhoretz began to squirm. One questioner asked him about his father, and John Podhoretz curtly cut him off, saying he was not his father. But that he would be happy to answer the question as John Podhoretz.

Another questioner from the audience asked the panel about our immigration problems. Medved, unfortunately, began to waffle and squish on the subject. He pointed out that America had (roughly) 3,000 miles of borders and it couldn’t possibly protect them all. He noted that Israel, by comparison, had something like 240 miles of borders and was having a hard time controlling even that. It was a bit disappointing as an answer from a guy I am normally inclined to agree with.

And Israel has 1/50th the population of America and 1/100th GNP.

But Podhoretz decided he wanted to answer this question, and here is where the fireworks began. He started by saying something along the lines of, “Well, first I feel when it comes to any issue of immigration, I have to rely on my Jewish experience. And I think back on the 1924 immigration restrictionist law which excluded so many Jews...”

Here he was interrupted and cut off by boos and jeers from the audience.

He was visibly taken aback by this reaction. He asked, “Why are you booing me?” Clearly shocked. Then he thought he had it figured out and responded by basically, “Oh, well I guess now this is an issue of Mexicans versus Jews...” And this produced even more jeers and boos from the audience, since he was clearly implying the audience was racist.

Damn Sailerites following him wherever he goes.

It seemed that at this point David Horowitz started speaking into his mike, and knocked the ball out of the park. He began by immediately denouncing our lax border controls and reckless illegal immigration — which prompted cheers from the audience. He then noted we needed massive deportations in addition to border controls. More cheers. I forget the rest of what he said on the subject, but he was clearly the hardliner on the subject (if only on illegal immigration I guess) and clearly much more on the audiences side then the bewildered JPod.

Michael Medved recovered his footing by picking up on the Horowitz line for deportations, noting that something like 400,000 illegal aliens with felonies were on the loose and they needed to be deported first.

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