This post is part of a weekly series of Torah commentaries presented by the American Jewish World Service. It was contributed by Guy Izhak Austrian.
Last January, like many Americans, I spent some time immersed in the controversy over Arizona’s new immigration law, which allows police to stop those they suspect of being illegal immigrants and to detain them if they are not carrying documentation.
A fierce national debate broke out: What kind of country were we becoming? I heard the debate as a competition between two internal narratives: either we are a nation of immigrants, and immigration is a healthy process ongoing in our day; or we are a nation of American-born citizens whose culture is repeatedly threatened by new waves of outsiders. Either way, many Americans saw the situation from a U.S. perspective and debated its impact solely on the United States. We were telling stories by, for, and about ourselves.