tv Representative Emanuel Celler and Immigration Laws CSPAN July 22, 2016 10:10am-11:01am EDT
ki as it was known was known as the abolitionist temple. and since then it has a long history of social activism. but in addition to that, lance has a ph.d. in history from the university of cincinnati, he's written a number of books on american jewish history and written a number of scholarly articles as well as articles in the more popular press and i had the honor of co-authoring an article with lance on the huffington post this year on the brandeis confirmation, which we are also celebrating this year. before i introduce lance, this is one of the great virtues of being the conference coordinator, i can add to the program whenever i want and i want to add one footnote to andrew's paper, because i think it is relevant to everything that we will be talking about today. and that is that in 1866, when
congress, 150 years ago in 1866, when congress is debating what becomes the 14th amendment, the 14th amendment begins by saying all persons born or naturalized in the united states and subject to their jurisdiction, ie, not the children of diplomats, are citizens of the united states. and there was a strong attempt by the delegation from california and oregon to amend that to say all persons except chinese would be citizens of the united states. and to the great credit of the united states congress, then in the hands of the anti-slavery republican party that had just led the nation to both saving the nation and ending slavery, the majority of congress simply said, no, all persons means all persons, we're not going to get into the business of excluding particular groups of people. and so that in part explains the subsequent conflict over chinese
immigration and chinese rights, because the 14th amendment meant their children would be citizens of the united states, even when the naturalization laws prohibited them from being naturalized. one final footnote on that before i bring on lance, during world war i, congress passed a law which said that if you were honorably discharged veteran, you could become a citizen of the united states automatically. but in toyota versus the united states, in the 1920s, the supreme court ruled that that was true except for immigrants from east asia, china and japan, who could not become citizens, even if as in the case of mr. toyota, he served honorably in the coast guard and navy. so we have always had a kind of distinct prejudice against people from east asia that only
in the post 1965 world have we changed. now i would like to introduce lance sussman, who will talk to us about the 1924 act and how it relates ultimately to the 1965 civil -- immigration act. i should also add that lance, in addition to being a rabbi, and in addition to being a historian, has taught at a number of institutions including hunter college and princeton when he's not busy writing sermons he's writing lectures. >> i don't have time to write. i just wing them. want to thank the united states capital historical society for the opportunity to speak today. especially the wonderful staff and the chair of the symposium, my friend paul finkelman.
as you have heard, paul and i have been friends for many years and currently are collaborating on a number of projects of which this is a particularly one to me. it is a special honor for me to be here and have an opportunity to share my thoughts about one of this country's most important political and policy issues. an issue which affects the lives of millions of people every day in this country, and around the world, which is, of course, the issue of immigration. i also would like to read it in a much larger context. and that migration and more specifically immigration has played a consistently important role in human history since our species first emerged in africa over 200,000 years ago. the movement of indigenous people to the western hemisphere, celts into europe, the possible movement of central asians into india are all
typical of our migratory species. and not surprisingly there are a number of theories, competing theorys from economic to climate based, which attempts to explain the mass movements of entire peoples within and among various nations, regions and continents. migration, immigration, sanctuary, diaspora, deportat n deportation, and expulsion present challenges to international systems of law and seriously test the proposition that every person has inalienable rights. we migrate because we're human and our individual and collective humanity invariably is tested when we migrate. not surprisingly, then, the regulation of migration by the modern nation state is complex, and pits economic, cultural and
legal factors against one another. countries variously promote, block, ignore and selectively control immigration. immigration can be celebrated or vilified, but it can never be ignored. immigration is also a very personal matter to me. my only family's immigrant story is central to my narrative as a person, and determinative in my choice of careers and historical work. my paternal grandfather arrived in this country from czarist russia as a child, he had no money, he had no education, and he had no skills. but by the mid1920s, sussman and lev emerged as one of the outstanding delicatessens in east baltimore. who knows what jacob sussman's fate would have been on the eastern front during world war i or during the bolshevik revolution or the russian civil war, let alone under communism and naziism in east europe.
instead, he ended up living a solidly middle class american life, and was the father of sons who won combat medals for bravery during world war ii in korea. his mother's story is more harrowing. she came to america alone, at the age of 13, in september 1938, from nazi germany. after her parents and little brother eventually joined her, they were obviously the lucky ones. they had american relatives who signed papers for them, high level political connections, sufficient funds, and a transatlantic network to get them into this country. but the story which really shapes me is a very different one. after arriving safely in america in 1939, my maternal grandfather max psaki worked tirelessly to bring others out of nazi
germany. he even returned to germany after the nazi attack on poland, to try and save others. except for his own family, he totally failed. the friends he sought to save were all slaughtered. money and political connections were not enough. indifference and even hostility within the american jewish community to german jews sealed the fate of those max sought to save. quote, you can't save every third cousin, one rabbi told my grandfather. my opa in turn vowed to spit on the grave of that clergyman, and in time he did. immigration is a difficult undertaking. it requires courage, fortitude, assets, connections, luck, i was of thinking which value the stranger and the dispossessed, the endangered, and sometimes the hopeless.
to value them as equals -- as equal to those who are secure and undisturbed. it requires an incredible faith in the humanity of the storm tossed and discarded that they too be given a chance that they will add to the richness of a host society, and not be a burden or a threat. one such individual who was a true champion of the immigrant, and particularly the refugee, a person who had incredible faith in the humanity and capacity of the storm toss was representative emanuel celler, democrat of brooklyn. he alone was present in the house of representatives when the doors of america closed and in 1924 and again when they began to reopen after world war ii. more than anyone else, he was responsible for the content of the immigration act of 1965, which bears his name, and is the
symbolic anchor of this symposium we're at, the 50th anniversary. we're going to take a quick look at several aspects of manny celler. his own story, his reaction to the 1924 national origins act, his participation in the culture and dynamics of the house, his relentless struggle during the holocaust for rescue, and finally his combination of immigration law with civil rights. about manny celler, he was born in brooklyn, new york, may 6th, 1888. his father, henry, was a whiskeymaker, echo spring. they had a big vat in the basement of their row home. he had three jewish and one catholic grandparent.
and he wrote in his autobiography something to the effect, like, he never left brooklyn, even though he lived in washington. my grandfather was catholic, my grandmother jewish, crossing over from bavaria as immigrants to the united states, the ship started to sink. my grandmother jumped overboard. my grandfather followed to save this girl he had never met. later, of course, they married and as he said here i am. to a certain extent, the business of immigration and rescue became the major themes of his life. it is important to point out that celler was a cultural jew and active cultural jew, not religious, did not attend synagogue. at 8 years of age, he says in his autobiography, important event happened in his life. his dad took him to hear william jennings brian speak and apparently was a life changing moment. he pursued a rigorous education
at boys high school in columbia college, but soon after entering the college, he ran into major family problems, his father died, five months later his mother died, and it left him in charge of the family business and going to school at the same time. but despite these circumstances, he stayed on track. he graduated from columbia university in 1910, and went to columbia law, admitted to the bar in 1912. married in 1914, to stella barr, two girls, one daughter freida had cerebral palsy and predeceased him and his daughter jane survived him. the period of world war i, he claims he became a zionist in favor of jewish statehood in palestine as a result of reading theodore hertzle's book and made good on that commitment throughout his political career. when world war i broke out, he
was working on a draft appeal board in new york city when he caught the attention of democratic party officials in the city. they asked him to run for congress, and he ran a door to door campaign. he was elected to the united states congress, 10th congressional district, which actually changed many times over his career. not surprisingly, given the family business, he ran on an anti-prohibition platform in a district heavily populated by immigrants. manny celler was in the house of representatives longer than almost anybody else in the history of the house. he started under president harding and was still in the house when president ford came to the white house. he was known for quick wit, for love of music, especially opera, and he would do parlor tricks for children. he also had a number of pithy sayings. for example, to be a successful
congressman, he once said, one must have the friendliness of a child, the enthusiasm of a teenager, the assurance of a college boy, the diplomacy of a wayward husband, the curiosity of a cat, and the good humor of an idiot. sounds like a prescription for success. in 1923, celler took his seat in the house. and he took an instant disliking to the culture of the hill. he lived when he was down here in the may flower hotel but said he never left brooklyn. the first thing he heard was a junior freshman congressman was the debate over national origins and it shook him to his core. he was deeply upset by what he heard, and then spent essentially the next 50 of his years of his life trying to
reverse it. the world changed not only for manny, but for everybody in 1929, with the crash of the stock market, and then the rise of -- to power of adolf hitler, which put into motion a whole new immigration crisis of jews from germany, austria and central europe. it is quite remarkable to note that in the very active world of holocaust history, and particularly in the assessments of the role of the united states in rescue of holocaust victims and potential victims, that there is only one person in that entire literature which is mostly tremendously negative who consistently gets good marks, even for the strongest critics of american behavior, during this period, scholars like david
wyman and his protege rafael medoff. celler is the only person they say who never lost his moral compass. and when one goes through the period, the highlights, low lights of it, you can see he does train his attention on this issue of rescue. and works at it despite essentially no success whatsoever. the first major event in terms of the united states trying to deal with holocaust immigrants was the evian conference in france of july 6th, an intergovernment association, but proved to be totally moribund. celler's reaction was to try to simply get unused quotas filled here in the united states. the problem accelerated with nacht, the great nazi pogrem, after which immigration from germany greatly accelerates.
the response here on the hill was the attempt to pass the wagner-rogers act which would allow for 20,000 german jewish children to come to the united states, but it completely failed. when fdr himself allowed for admitting germans above the quota, he received praise for celler, but on the other hand, celler was unable to get fdr to challenge the british decision to close the coast of palestine to jewish immigration. of course, a very complicated decision all the way around. trying to open other avenues, he wrote to kordell hall at state and it began a 45 year process which ultimately resulted in full diplomatic relations with the holy see in 1984 past his career. for the united states, the situation in europe and of course the pacific changes with the japanese attack on pearl harbor in december of 1941.
this then brought the united states directly into the war. and more directly into the problems of refugees coming out of europe and in particular the focus of my discussion. a very important event happens in the american jewish community that is not in my attention adequately understood or prioritized. and that is a meeting in new york city at the biltmore hotel in 1942, in which a conscious decision was made at that time to, of course, embrace the win the war strategy as the number one priority, but in terms of -- within the jewish community, the number one strategy internal to the community would be jewish statehood and palestine. the conscious decision was then to relegate, rescue to the third level, that that was not going to be the primary interest of the community.
for celler himself, though, he couldn't accept that and he couldn't deprioritize it. he immediately gets to work in different areas, for example, he learns that, like everyone else from the regular rigor telegram about the final solution, and at the moment there was a particular issue in the jews of france and he tries to work toward legislation for bringing in jews of france to the united states through exceptions. again, it fails. the year 1943 was perhaps the darkest hours, restoring this period that all avenues of escape were essentially blocked, and in europe the killing -- the genocide hit its high point. celler and others went to the white house trying to argue the case, both for relaxation of restrictions to the united states, and to get the british
to reverse the white paper in palestine. he also worked with the various rallies that were being held in madison square garden and elsewhere. the highlight or low light of 1943 with respect to rescue operations was the so-called bermuda conference. the bermuda conference was called specifically to deal with the question of jewish immigration and rescue. it was supported by celler's principle nemesis on the hill, another jewish congressman from new york city, representing the upper east side, representative saul bloom was an apologist for the white house, later went on to distinguish himself in his work for the establishment of the united nations. but bloom upheld what happened at bermuda or rather what didn't happen at bermuda as being adequate, and celler didn't.
in his own style, celler referred to the bermuda conference as a blooming fiasco. no progress was made at all. by the end of the year, he was openly calling from the floor of the house for the resignation of the assistant secretary of state, breckenridge long, who was perhaps the biggest blocker of all inside of state at this time. in 1944, i would say the situation became too little too late. the very beginning of the war the urging of secretary of treasury henry mergenthal jr., the board was planned in the united states and a small plan for rescue was put into place but rally not enacted upon. in essence, only about 980 some individuals were relocated to a refugee camp in oswego, in upstate new york.
the end of the war did not bring relief to this situation. this is a particularly troubling part of the story to me. if you look into the literature of the holocaust, if you go to the holocaust museum national holocaust memorial museum, not far from where we are this morning, very often see pictures of american troops, liberating the camps of eisenhower and insisting that american troops witness it. the troops are smiling. the survivors are smiling. it looks like everything is hunky-dory at that moment. but that couldn't be further than the truth. american immigration policy was still in place at the end of world war ii and there was little interest in relaxing it, even for the survivors of the camp. president truman sends the dean of the university of
pennsylvania law school to survey the situation of the dps in europe. his name was earl gene harrison. he writes a scathing report that in germany itself the american military greatly favors the german citizens over the jewish dps, that they're getting all of the supplies, and that in fact with the exception and these are his words, except for actually shooting the people in the camp, there is very little difference between the behavior of the american military and the former -- their former nazi bosses inside of the camp. restrictive legislation failed. there was a failed attempt to soften restrictive legislation for the dps in 1946. the one place where -- where seceller has some success and i becomes an important precedent is the lou celler act of 1946,
which allows for indian americans and philippine americans to begin to come to the united states. to say that they were limited is one of the great understatements in immigration history. they were allowed 100 visas as a result of the celler act of 1946, but it did represent an opening. in 1948, the state of israel is established, and the pressure is taken off of the absorption of the dps who are still in holding camps in europe and cyprus and other places. celler at this point has his first great success in congress, and through his efforts, 339,000 dps are brought to the united states. approximately 20% of them were jewish survivors of the camp, very hard to determine exactly people's religion, but the estimate is about 20%.
and then that law was, again, amended in 1950 to allow additional 100,000. by the time the hart-celler act is enacted, you have about 600,000 holocaust survivors move to the united states to equal number as went to israel as a result of celler's work. in 1949, celler becomes the chair of the house judiciary committee, and he remains in that position for 11 terms until 1973. and this will put him in a key position for a number of legislative efforts including legislation. in 1952, the congress of the united states passes the immigration and nationality act, which essentially reinforces the 1924 legislation. it was vetoed by truman, by that time, probably the most unpopular president in american history according to the polls,
which, of course, had him defeated anyway. and national origins was re-established. once he's in his position in judiciary, celler begins to turn his attention to civil rights legislation, and he plays a major role in all of the major components of civil rights. he never gives up on his struggle for the immigrant and the relaxation of national origins, and as paul finkelman pointed out, senator john kennedy and others made that linkage particularly in the 19 -- the late 1950s, and kennedy continued to talk about the linkage between immigration law and civil rights law during his short time in the white house. the high water mark for celler in this regard, of course, was the passage of the hart-celler act of 1965, which is one of the
great turning points in american immigration history. his story, his experience, his knowledge of the house all play a significant role in how that legislation was actually shaped. there is a debate, of course, that we'll hear more about as to whether or not its effects were intended or unintended. many people who write or the few people who write on it tend to refer to it as the law of unintended consequences. national origins is not removed entirely from this, though the old system is really circumscribed by it. it is redefined. in particular, it will allow for unrestricted family reunification, and to some extent the political sanctuary. for the first time, it enacts some limits on immigration within north america. and it also puts into place a very complex certification process on alien employment and
wages. interestingly it is important to note that it did have a law that excluded openly homosexuals from immigrating to the united states, still in 1965. when the hart-celler bill was passed in 1965, and signed into law, the ceremony that surrounded it are very curious indeed. beginning with lbj and including ted kennedy, who was perhaps the loudest political advocate for it, they all gave the same speech basically. that this law, the hart-celler bill on immigration, will not change the united states. they kept talking to the public, fearful of xenophobia, assuring them that it was a technicality and that nothing really was going to change, that i suppose without saying the words based on 1924, america would re main an anglo saxon country.
as recently as october of 2015, the atlantic monthly came out with an article titled the immigration act which inadvertently changed america. despite everything lbj and ted kennedy and dean rusk and others had to say, it really did mark the beginning of a very different time period in america, with respect to the complexion of immigration to this country. however, it is also a danger of overski overestimating what this bill did it a turning point but not the battle of gettysburg. there are other things that happened afterwards that build on it that changed the nature of immigration and continued as we saw in the '50s of this pool, forward and backwards. he is defeated, celler is defeated by liz holtzman in 1973. he stopped campaigning after a while, he felt that he had
inherited his seat. he had been a solid liberal democrat, since 1923. but his radar failed to pick up the new role of feminism in american politics, he was not particularly vigorous in his advocacy for the era, and when he heard that liz holtzman was running against him, he said she's nothing but a hang nail and i'll bite had her off. well, she bit him off and that was the end. he was still -- he still had some life left in him in the last years in congress. he headed the special committee on the hearings on adam clayton powell, which were particularly sensitive in new york city. and he was one of the major writers of the united states gun control act, the man truly had a remarkable career in congress to say the least. he died in january of 1981, and was buried at mount nebo cemetery in cyprus hills, new
york, survived by his one daughter jane and received a number of -- a number of important degrees. remains active in the jewish community, and also in terms of the ethnic connection, the enduring ethnic connection in his career was able to get legislation allowing for the continued operation of the semitic division of the library of congress, one of the finest collections of semitic literature in the world. in closing, in this brief discussion of manny celler, i'll simply give you two quotes from him. they summarize what -- how i felt about himself and immigration. the first is on the one hand, we publicly pronounce the equality of all peoples. on the other hand, in our immigration laws, we embrace and practice these very theories we
abhor and verbally condemn. and finally, in an interview conducted after voted out of office, looking backwards, he said, i fought against the unjust restriction of immigration in the united states. thank you. questions and general rebuttal. a mike is coming. thank you. >> so i'd like to know if eisenhower was aware of how they -- the jews who had been released or escaped, being killed, how did eisenhower react and did he know? and how could that have
happened? is there an explanation for who was responsible? >> well, we know that at the end of the war when american troops go into the camps and liberate some of the camps, he himself witnessed it, he issued orders that people from his staff and american military in general should witness it. so they saw it, they would be witnesses. part of that, of course, as the war was ending, was to make the case that sacrifices were worth it. that a lot of people had died, a lot of american soldiers, military personnel, had died, and it proved the cruelty of the nazi system. so they did that. we know that on the other side of europe, the soviets were very actively exploiting their film
footage of the liberation of the camps for exactly the same purposes. i don't think the americans were quite as machiavellian, but they did use these photo-opes and they did become defining in american culture that america was the good guy and the liberator of the camp and with the end of the fighting everything was okay. and that unfortunately, even the museum here, kind of buys into that understanding that there is no recognition of a continued struggle for the survivors after the war. eisenhower is a contradictory in his behavior. on the one hand, he will work with celler for exceptions. on the other hand, he does not initiate any kind of effort to
change -- to change immigration law because of the holocaust experience. not the only experience, obviously, but it is a very dramatic one and it involved massive genocide. so he -- that's how he engages it. it is not a decor of his presidency. i think truman was probably more moved by it personally than eisenhower. eisenhower also had to help shape american foreign policy toward israel, and it was a very cool relationship at that time. there was no special relationship between the state of israel and the united states in the 1950s under eisenhower. truman had to play off both the state department and defense that said israel was a bad bet for the united states. and for his own reasons my
thinking is that it was mostly anti-soviet, he was afraid that israel being a socialist state would go over to stalin and he was looking for a way to contain. and so he supported it, maybe a little bit of nostalgia from sunday school as a boy. eisenhower, on the other hand, i think took a larger military look at it, and balanced support with the growing need for cooperation with the saudis and others. so he didn't see that as part of the moral response to the holocaust, which becomes part of the narrative much later. in general, in the united states, i don't think holocaust as a topic, cultural field of study, or as a phenomena is particularly significant until the late 1960s. there were survivors. they had practical problems.
but there was nothing like what we have today with special holidays and holocaust study programs. and it was shunned by the american jewish community as well. the culture wasn't there. there was a war, a lot of people got killed, there was nasty stuff going on in this sector and that sector and we're moving on. holocaust is a cultural category, really doesn't emerge in my opinion until the mid to late 1960s. that's one of the things that makes celler special, he was sensitive to the plight of the refugee of the survivor and without the context of holocaust as cultural category, nevertheless was a soldier on behalf of the distressed. we're bringing mikes. you'll let me know what my time frame is. >> this may be too narrow a question, but i'll ask it
anyway. so i saw on c-span a while back interviews with bernard friends who was with the united states army initially and worked with holocaust survivors getting restitution. i was wondering if you know of his work and whether that was connected at all with the congressman. >> no, i didn't see that. but -- >> it is fascinating. >> i know the harrison report alone. maybe you can tell me what -- >> fascinating. he has his own story, jewish background, and very unhappy being a private in the army when he was an attorney and all those and really single-handedly -- there was one other individual in the army who when they went into the camps tried to maintain all of the documentation so that they could pursue and he followed up at nuremberg, very, very interesting interviews.
>> documentation was key. i should have mentioned that with respect to eisenhower. already in '43, the pentagon was working on post war planning and including the prosecution of nazi leadership. in particular they had a lawyer on staff who was a jew from central europe, a man by the name of lemkin who creates, defines the concept of genocide. both as a historical concept and as a legal tool. but it wasn't ready for nuremberg. in any event, the american military was very much aware that they would need to have materials, evidence ready for trials after the war and part of what happened in the camp was the collection of evidence for the prosecution of survivoring nazis. and in that respect i would say
the americans and the british were -- they were quite effective. that did not, however, carry over to some kind ofprogram. the collection of evidence to prosecute the nazis who killed a lot of american soldiers, that's one task. helping the actual survivors was a different tafg and not attended to with the same vigor. thank you. that's an important difference. thanks. >> your talk was brilliant. i have a question why you omitted mention in 1944 of the house and senate concurrent resolutions speaking of the destruction of jewish life in europe, and what role did those concurrent -- did manny feller play a role with the house concurrent resolution? what was the relationship then between the u.s. government and swedish budapest. >> those are big questions.
there were a number of resolutions that went through the house, and i skipped over them only because of the time and trying to do this with a broad brush. in general, celler was either the leader or a sigatory toar every single resolution that went through congress during this period. he was absolutely active in every dimension of it. and the only reason i picked it because it didn't say it because there's too much detail. i don't believe the question of the bombing of auschwitz came up before the house. that was internal to the military and the white house. so i don't -- that's the one thing i didn't see him weigh in on. but in other areas, he absolutely was there and it's all very neatly cataloged, either you can either look in
wyman's study of the american jewish response to the holocaust or this new double authored book on fdr, in the holocaust, which has an unusually balanced view of it. but celler will come up on page after page after page. he was the warrior on this particular issue. despite repeated failure. every once in a while, they could get something through, but nothing significant, and absolutely nothing structural. this side. >> i want to ask you one quick question. is there a modern biography or any biography of celler? >> somebody told me last night at dinner that they think somebody is working on it. there is almost no literature directly on celler, where he appears in the secondary literature, he's part of a different narrative. there are biographies, short biographies of congressmen, but
the work hasn't been done. one of the things, his papers are in pretty good shape. they're in brooklyn. so that can be found. one of the tough parts, going to your question, is getting the material from the house itself. not everything is digital. even at this late date. and one has to work very hard to get transcripts of speeches from the house and all that. so i personally am not planning on writing a biography of celler. i think it is very, very doable if there's somebody still out there interested in writing biographies. sgll two brief questions. wonderful talk, by the way. in theory, there might have been a contradiction, at least from our viewpoint, between the ability of survivor -- holocaust
survivors to reach the united states and the wish to support the establishment of the jewish state. is this -- was this problem -- this possible conflict of mission recognized at the time? and my second question is, what were the effects of jewish life in america as a result of the 1965 immigration act? the jews essentially become less exotic and more mainstream as a result of the '65 immigration act? >> let me take the second one and then you'll help me remember the first one. by 1965, jewish immigration post-holocaust had pretty much run its course. you had about 600,000 jews that came to the united states. i think for other reasons, jews begin to go more into the main
stream of american culture. you have a writer like a will herberg, who talks about america as jewish, as protestant, catholic, and jewish. quite a claim, for a group of people who are less than 2% of the population, they get one third of the cultural bags of the country. it's just remarkable. so there's a significant shift of jews into the mainstream because of, i would say, from the cutoff in '24 and the processes of immigration, services in world war ii, live in the suburbs. education in the jewish community, there's an extreme americanization, and the civil rights movement in a way also helps lower the exoticness of jews. and jews become increasingly white. and they identify with white culture. what was unforeseen about the
jewish immigration that comes here from 1945 to 1965 is that it was a very different jewish population that had been here prior. and they will, if there's a word, reexotify the american jewish community. up to 1924, ultra orthodox jews generally chose not to come to the united states. there were even rebinic rulings in europe discouraging jewish immigration to america. it was very simple. if you come to america, it will be better for your body. it will be worse for your soul. and your grandchildren will be gentiles. and they said don't come to america. and as a result, the ultra communities did not. after world war ii, though, the surviving ultra communities did. in part, they came here because they were either non-zionist or
anti-zionist and didn't want to go to israel. so they come here. and that population today is what is changing the american-jewish community more than anything else because of their extreme birth rite. i would invite anyone to take a tour of borough park or flatbush in brooklyn, by zip code, they have the highest birth rates of any place in the united states. and if there is retention over generations, the prediction is somewhere around half of the american-jewish community will be ultra orthodox by the year 2050, that the suburban assimilated jew is literally going to die out and the jewish population in the united states is going to become much more orthodox and larger. and teaching classes on modern jewish history, i always end by asking what will follow the modern period in jewish history.
my answer is the medieval. so now, remind me of the first question? i knew that was going to happen. >> we're out of time. >> can i just answer that question? we're done. >> sure. >> real short. i promise. >> in theory, at least from my perspective today, it might have been a potential contradiction between the aim of establishing a jewish state -- >> got it. very short, i promise, because the boss says we're done. it was not fully understood as a contradiction then. statehood was more important than rescue. end of story. and even after the war, getting refugees to palestine was considered more important than bringing them here. where that became a problem was in the '80s when a soviet movement begins here in the united states. and the american-jewish community found itself in direct -- in direct defiance of the wishes of the israeli
government that wanted the russians to go there, and the americ american-jewish community argued freedom of choice on immigration. of course, once the russian jews arrive here in large numbers, they really don't want a lot to do with them, and i'll just end with an anecdote. i mentioned to my own synagogue board, maybe we should have an outreach program to russian jew s in northeast philadelphia. and one member said out loud, why do we need to do that? i already have somebody to do my nails. [ applause ] >> coming up tonight on american history tv, it's the history of immigration. starting at 8:00 p.m., we'll show you a comparison of the roles of congress, states, and the president in developing immigration policy. going all the way back to the colonial period. then at 9:20 eastern, the
origins of the 1882 chinese exclusion act and how popular culture shaped stereotypes. and 10:15, look at one congressman's fight against immigration restrictions from the 1920s to 1965. all of this tonight on immigration on american history tv on c-span3. >> coming up next, albany law school professor emeritus paul finkelman delivering a keynote address at a symposium focusing on the history of immigration in america. he compares the role of congress, states, and the president in developing immigration policy from the colonial period to modern day. this event is part of a two-day u.s. capitol historical society symposium. it's about 1:15. >> keynote opening -- opening this particular symposium, we have paul