by Endy D. Zemenides, HALC Executive Director
On Friday, Greece marked the Commemoration Day of the Greek Jewish Martyrs and Heroes of the Holocaust. We must never forget the horrors and atrocities suffered by the Jewish people during the Holocaust, and we must also remember the examples of heroes from that time. Heroes like Archbishop Damaskinos of Greece, Bishop Chrysostomos and Mayor Loukas Carrer of Zakynthos — brave Hellenes that stood up to protect those who had been targeted solely because of their religion.
It is with these heroes in mind that we rise to object to President Trump’s executive order restricting immigration, an order issued on the very day that Greece commemorated these heroes. Greek Americans have for thousands of years valued philoxenia — or the love of strangers. As immigrants to this great country, Greek Americans have benefited from the philoxenia that has also been a core American value. Abandoning this philoxenia at a challenging time betrays both American values and American interests. America has always been able to secure the homeland and remain a welcoming land. It can continue this tradition.
As Admiral James Stavridis, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and a proud Greek-American, said:
I am deeply disturbed by the general tone and thrust of the executive orders that, at least on initial read, seem to ban significant classes of people because of their religion, or prioritize one religion over another. I do not agree with decisions that simply close off any migration here from a particular nation, no matter the situation or background of the individual applying for a visa or refugee status…I cannot support a policy that simply relieves us of our obligations under international law to respect the right of refugees to apply for asylum arbitrarily…
With the examples of Archbishop Damaskinos, Bishop Chrysostomos and Mayor Carrer in mind, we ask you to stand on the right side of history and uphold the value of philoxenia.