How to Lose the War on Terror
By Robin Wright
By Robin Wright
Last July, anguished by the war in Syria and the plight of millions fleeing the grisly six-year conflict, Andrea Dettelbach e-mailed her rabbi at Temple Sinai, in Washington, D.C. She suggested that the synagogue sponsor a Syrian refugee family. He agreed. Temple Sinai has since raised “unbelievable amounts of money” for the family, she told me, found cell phones to give them when they arrive, organized a life-skills team to help with everything from banking to education, and lined up doctors, including a female internist who speaks Arabic. Dettelbach’s basement is full of boxes, of donated furnishings, clothing, a television. “One member of the congregation decided, instead of giving gifts last year, to buy all new pots and pans in the names of her friends.” Temple Sinai partnered with Lutheran Social Services to launch the complex process.
The wait was almost over. “We were expecting a family within a week or two,” she said. “This is the history of the Jewish people and a commitment to helping those in need. As an American, it’s opening our doors to those who seek refuge. It’s who we are as a people. How can we turn our back on them?”
On Wednesday, President Trump decreed an end to all processing and admission of Syrian refugees in the United States “until such time as I have determined that sufficient changes have been made.” The arrival of Temple Sinai’s refugee family, who had been waiting for years and come so close to finding a safe haven, is now put off indefinitely “or forever,” Dettelbach told me. “They were vetted to an inch of their lives. It’s insane to hold them accountable for what is going on in their country—or in our country.” Trump’s action was part of a wide-ranging, eight-page executive order titled “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals.”