(JTA) — The head of Germany’s main Jewish organization has suggested capping the number of refugees allowed into the country, so Germany can do a better job of integrating those already there.
At issue are attitudes toward Jews, women and gays in the home countries of many refugees, said Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, in a wide-ranging interview with Die Welt. The problem is not the Muslim faith, but rather a cultural problem that won’t go away by itself, he said.
In the interview, which appeared Sunday, Schuster said eventually a limit will have to be established because of the challenges of integrating newcomers from cultures that are intolerant of Jews, don’t believe in equality for women and men, and eschew homosexuality.
“Many of the refugees are fleeing from the terror of the Islamic State and want to live in peace and freedom,” he said. “At the same time they come from cultures where hatred of Jews and general intolerance are par for the course.”
Schuster suggested that the integration problem he sees in European cities and countries has to do with the culture of the countries from which many refugees are fleeing and not with religion.
Unchecked acceptance of refugees “will make it increasingly difficult to transmit our [society’s] values,” said Schuster, who on Nov. 15 volunteered at a refugee shelter as part of the Jewish community’s annual Mitzvah Day program.
Schuster’s remarks drew criticism from a refugee aid organization, Pro Asyl, which pointed out that his words echoed the position of the conservative Christian Social Union party, the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party, in “overriding the European human rights convention.” Pro Asyl’s director, Günter Burkhardt, told the French news agency AFP on Monday that both the European convention and the Geneva Refugee Convention guarantee protection from being rejected at the border.
The governing Christian Democrats have proposed holding a discussion about setting a limit on the number of refugees to be accepted.