As today’s leaders gather for their summit sessions, they should remember that history eventually sides with those who help refugees, not with those who vilify them.
Currently, only a small number of leaders have shown real moral courage on refugees — hurray for Angela Merkel and Justin Trudeau — and even President Obama’s modest willingness to accept 10,000 Syrians has led him to be denounced by Donald Trump.
Without greater political will, this week’s meetings may be remembered as no better than the 1938 Evian Conference, and history will be unforgiving.
“We must think of Sousa Mendes’s heroism in today’s context,” Jorge Helft, a Holocaust survivor who as a French boy received one of Sousa Mendes’s visas, told me. “I have dinners in Paris where people start saying we have to kick all these people out, there are dangerous people among them.” He paused and added, “I remember being on a ship to New York and hearing that some Americans didn’t want to let us in because there were Nazi spies among us.