I posted this in November. And this article in The Guardian made me re-post it. I am thinking about all the cases in the past, the ships with Jewish refugees returned back to Europe, or in one case diverted to Mauritius. I am thinking about how birth rates in Western countries are going down, in the USA, Italy, Germany. The populations are aging. In my opinion, we not only should be more welcoming for kindness sake, but we need the refugees. This article made me sad .
The main theme of my novel, emigration, is as important as ever.
I know from my family history that people can find themselves in a situation where their home is not longer safe. Suddenly, they don’t belong. Their identity somehow changes.
My family members felt Prague was their home, their identity was Czechoslovak, and only secondary also Jewish.
However, identity depends also on how other people see us. In 1939, the identity of my family was Jewish, all else became non important. They have lived there for more than 400 years, but that was no longer important.
Some emigrated, most didn’t. Some , including my parents survived the war, most didn’t. Emigration saved the ones who emigrated, but they were not always welcome.
One of my relatives who emigrated from Prague to Brooklyn, NYC in 1938 as a 12-y old girl still hates the word “ refugee”.
She is now 94, still living in New York, but she still gets upset talking about it.
“ Bloody refugee, that was what everybody called me at school.”
I emigrated from communist Czechoslovakia in 1986. I was lucky, the Cold War was still on, getting political asylum was easy for me, I was also European, white, a doctor. I felt welcome in the UK.
There are millions of people running away from famine, wars, discrimination. Most of them are not white, they are poor, sometimes not educated. They need us.
It is my strong feeling that we should welcome them, if not for altruistic, human reasons, then because we might get into the situation when we might become refugees, too.
Yet, some people who themselves used to be refugees for some bizarre reason don’t want to welcome refugees in our country,
Britain’s home secretary Pritti Patel, daughter of refugees is trying to introduce a system that would make immigration into the UK harder.
I met Jewish people who also don’t want influx of refugees. In my opinion, these people, and Pritti Patel should know better.
When you see a refugee, not speaking your language, trying to get in, don’t judge them It could be you!