In 1995 the European Union signed what is known as The Schengen Agreement (named after the small town in Luxembourg where the 28 Euro nation members agreed on a border-free zone between their countries). The result? Frontiers which had been bloodily fought over for centuries (and just a few years ago were bottlenecks of traffic and trade) now became nothing more than unguarded signposts on highways cris-crossing the world’s largest economic bloc. It was a continental “kum-by-ya” for Europeans as they freely went back and forth between each other’s countries (for instance, an Italian family planning a weekend visit to a Dutch family in the Netherlands, could drive through France plus Germany and into Holland without ever having a border stop). Then came the migration crisis – with tens and tens of thousands of Middle Eastern Muslims fleeing from war-torn places like Syria, Iraq, and Libya to enter peaceful lands like England, Austria, and Spain. And those very same fences – taken down with such fanfare – were suddenly put back up (and this time some with barbed wire).
Now it’s not as if Europe is being overrun with outsiders, there foreigners make up just 7% (33,000,000 out of 500,000,000) of the population. In comparison, the North American foreign rate is U.S./14% and Canada/21% (we are the world leader in immigration). So what should Europe do? In 1938, thirty-two nations (including America and Canada) gathered in the French spa town of Evian to discuss the humanitarian crises that everyone knew was about to overtake the Jews of Europe, wherever Hitler’s Nazis held sway. And even though the Hebrews were desperate for a place to flee to, country after country said no – it’s their problem, not ours. However, there are two great differences between the Holocaust in 1938 and Syria in 2015.
Annihilation – Every Jew in Nazi-occupied Europe (man, woman, child, infant) was targeted for death whereas the Syrian people are not. The truth is, the only death targets in the Middle East, apart from Israelis, are the Christians (who definitely should be given asylum).
Assimilation – The Jews were immersed citizens in their respective European countries, thoroughly embracing Western culture and values. In contrast, many Muslims in Europe refuse to do the same, having opposing values as well as criticizing those values of their host country.
All this doesn’t mean the West should do nothing (it’s doing nothing that allowed Assad to create this horror). Instead, the West should supply the good guys in the Muslim Middle East, the Kurds, with vast amounts of military hardware. We should also demand that oil-rich Arab states provide the dollars needed to properly shelter Syrians who are fleeing to neighboring countries. Then when the civil war has ended in Syria, the Syrians should be aided by the same oil-rich Arab states to return home. Real good will have been done and Europe will be spared an eventual choice of Islamization or civil war. And lest anyone accuses me of being religiously bigoted against Muslims, any Kurd wanting to move to the West (and who qualifies according to a nation’s immigration quota), should be welcomed with open arms Why? Because they share, not oppose, our core Western values (and are more likely to hear the Gospel).
In the meantime, old Benjamin Franklin put it best, “Love thy neighbour…but don’t take down the hedge.”