Theo Koskoff: “Welcome, Refugees!”

Theo Koskoff is too young to vote.

But the Staples High School junior knows how to make his voice heard.

And he knows how social media can amplify that voice, loudly and powerfully.

Using Facebook, Theo organized a peaceful protest. It took place today in New York — at Trump Tower on 5th Avenue.

Theo set up a page — #RefugeesWelcomeSit-In — and posted:

Trump just won, and many of us will end up okay. But many will not. He has complete control over the amount of refugees coming into our country. Right now there are more than 65.3 million refugees around the world, more than half of whom are children. If you care about humanity, come to this peaceful sit-in at Trump Tower in NYC. This is not an anti-Trump protest, it’s a pro-refugee message to the President-Elect of the United States. We will show love, not hatred. #NYCsayswelcome #welcomerefugees

It was more of a positive message to refugees than a protest against the president-elect. Passersby joined in, and tons of people took photos.

Theo Koskoff (right), at the protest he organized today at Trump Tower.

Theo Koskoff (right), at the protest he organized today at Trump Tower.

Feedback was largely positive.

No word on what the target of the event — enjoying Thanksgiving in Palm Beach — thought.

People old and young joined Theo Koskoff's protest.

People old and young joined Theo Koskoff’s protest…

... Some were very young...

… Some were very young…

... but all had a welcoming message for refugees.

… but all had a welcoming message for refugees.

67 responses to “Theo Koskoff: “Welcome, Refugees!”

  1. THANK YOU I LOVE THIS LOVE does TRUMP everything… pamela singer

  2. Well done. There is hope for the future of our country with young people like Theo.

  3. REALLY………………..
    WESTPORT is in la la land……………….

  4. Dave Feliciano

    That’s till they blow up the New York Marathon. There is a reason why children don’t rule the country. We already have taken in millions upon millions of undocumented citizens of Central America and South America. Many whom are wonderful hard working people and many that aren’t. Never have I seen our European or NATO friends voluntarily take this hemispheres refugees. Protesting commonsensical procedures even before their implemented is silly. We tried 8 years of other ideas, why not give the practice, time to be separated from Rhetoric. As for Love it’s supposed to be patient and kind, not sounding like an empty gong.

    • Dave Feliciano

      And today we are tragically proven correct by the Somali student at Ohio State University! My sympathy to the wounded and the family of the deceased.

      • You’re kidding, right? What was “proven”? I’d like your thoughts on Dylan Roof (Charleston church), Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook), James Holmes (Aurora theater). Please tell me what was “proven” there.

      • @ Dave Feliciano:

        37 year old Lebanese American Khalid Jabara was fatally shot by his white neighbour in Tulsa OK in summer 2016. He was Antiochian Orthodox Christian (Syrian Orthodox). Prior to his murder this neighbour ran over Khalid’s mother w/ his car leaving her to die in the street w/ broken bones & serious injuries. She survived.

        Khalid lived w/ his mother & father who is disabled & worked w/ them for their catering company. They had repeatedly called the police about the neighbour harassing them. He had called them “ay-rabs” & “filthy mooslems” & was released back to his home after confessing to the police that he had run over Khalid’s mother. No action was taken when the harassment continued & neighbours informed the police that he had bought a gun.

        The intolerance toward Syrian & other Arabic speaking immigrants such as that exhibited in several comments in this thread puts MANY people — including myself (an American born Orthodox Lebanese) — in danger. Jesus was born in SYRIA to SYRIAN parents — where he lived amongst SYRIAN people such as my ancestors who fed him & gave his story to the World. Hatred stems from ignorance. If people are going to appropriate our indigenous beliefs — as they’ve been doing for 1000/1500 years — I would prefer that they get the basics sorted.

        May Khalid Jabara be asleep in the Lord. Life forever.

        • Zoe–give Westport a break as your rhetoric and ranting are not justified for many reasons.

          While I never, ever condone crimes and especially hate crimes, the statistics do not support your constant messages on 06880. Let me explain.

          In recently released numbers, there were 1,197,704 violent crimes in the US. 5,850 were classified as hate crimes (a bit under 0.5%). Just over 1,000 of the hate crimes were incidents regarding religious bias.

          Of the 1,000 religious bias hate crimes, approximately 53% were anti-Semitism related. 21% were anti-Muslim.

          Dan’s posting was about a wonderful junior high school student who has learned he can use his voice. Maybe it is time to use your voice in away than would calm down the rhetoric and be more engaging.

          Try it-might just work.

          PS-let me say once again, I do NOT condone any type of crime, and especially hate crimes.

        • Dick Lowenstein

          Jesus born in Syria? That’s a new one.

          • I was not referring to the modern national state of ‘Syria’. I was teferring to the ancient designation — which contained within it many places in the bible not in the modern nation state. Jesus spoke Aramaic. Aramaic = Syrian. Hence my grandfather spoke Aramaic vs. Arabic. It is the ancient language used in the Syrian Orthodox Church (now very recently called Syriac Orthodox Church etc.) & Melkite Church (Byzantine Catholic Syrian Church) & in Judaism.

            • Dick Lowenstein

              You mean Assyria? But what’s your point? Are you saying that Jesus was not a Jew, that he was really an Arab?

              • No Mr.Lowenstein. That is not what I am saying. Not all Syrians are “Arabs”. (In fact Arabs invaded Syria & have a different language Arabic vs. Syrian/Aramaic etc.). As I explained this does not pertain to the modern nation state of ‘Syria’. Syrian Jews call themselves Syrian Jews because of the language & customs & dress & musical instruments & food that they share as they come from a region in the Levant which emcompassed Lebanon & part of Jordan & parts of modern Syria & the area of ancient Palestine/Judeah/Israel etc. The Syrian Orthodox Churches are not ‘Arab’ either. There are Syrian Jews Sir. That is what they call themselves. We Syrian Xtians share our musical instruments & traditional dress & musical instruments w/ Syrian Jews. Syrian is a culture Sir — from a geographical area — it is not a religion. It preceded the Arab conquest c. 700ad & is preserved in that which I have mentioned. ‘Arab’ in the modern sense simply refers to people who speak Arabic after the conquests. There are not only ‘Arabs’ & ‘Jews’. Syrian Xtians & Syrian Jews share an ancient culture. The Syrian Churches began as Jewish. Assyrians are an entirely different people & culture Sir. They are not Syrian & I was not referring to them. Goodnight Sir.

              • Ask the Romans for verification.

                • It’s exhausting — the explanations — as any Jewish person going to temple hears Aramaic (= Syrian) spoken. (As do Syrian Orthodox & Melkite Byzantine Xtians). I have a headache (which I will politely blame on the flu).

                  • What is exhausting is religious wars. Endless.

                    • The really heartbreaking thing is I responded to Dave Feliciano’s post about immigrants being potential murderers w/ a story that happened only months ago of a Lebanese immigrant being murdered (& his mother injured & nearly killed) & THESE unbelievably unempathetic responses were people’s takeaways from THAT.

              • Aramaic/Syriac spoken in Jewish Temple & Church = Syrian. Arabs conquered in 700ad — different people. Modern term ‘Arab’ only refers to people within or from modern states where Arabic is spoken as the official language. Assyrians are an entirely different people than Syrian Jews & Syrian Xtians & Muslims. Ancient Syria = Lebanon & Palestine & parts Jordan & modern Syria. All Syrians regardless of religion share a language (Aramaic/Syriac) & culture (food & musical instruments & dress & customs etc.).

              • So, either a Jewish Arab, or a Arab Jew?

                • Israeli friends of mine whose parents & grandparents spoke their indigenous Arabic w/ them get pulverised constantly for referring to themselves as “Arab Jews”. It describes a LANGUAGE & CULTURE. (Which preceded the present situation). Just wanted to answer this man’s question but I am done here (see bottom of thread — the whole of which is now archived permanently w/ AANM etc.).

              • ?! I am Syrian Orthodox. Church = for first few 100 yrs JEWISH. As any sane person knows Jesus was an indigenous Jew. (House of David etc.). Syrian Jews = Mizrahi/Sephardi. (The latter means ‘Eastern’ so not called that then). 1rst c. Jews spoke Aramaic (Syrian) then. Think of Syria as a region like Scandinavia w/ different peoples/religions. I have said I am done here. I only answered b/c you seem whipped into a froth.

  5. Well said David , it took me 15 years to become an american citizen!
    the parents of Theo need to take a long hard look at being a good role
    model for their children !
    Kids should stay out of politics and be “children “

    • Thank you very much for sharing your expertise on parenting. I have now taken that “long hard look” that you advocate and I have concluded that I could not be prouder of Theo for standing up for what he believes in and for his empathy for others. Notwithstanding your thoughtful critique I can only hope I am a role model for him though honestly sometimes I feel like he is a role model for me.

      • As his mother I second my husband’s sentiment. Especially since he is not, in fact, a “child,” but a young man with his own moral compass. I learn from all of my kids every day, as well as from the 147 kids I teach. Their minds have yet to become rigid and closed. We all have a lot to learn from today’s youth.

        • Adrian Hinojos

          To Theo Koskoff’s Parents:
          I don’t know you but because of your son’s actions you have my admiration. As a father of two, I don’t think there is anything more rewarding than knowing that our children are loving, caring and compassionate. Wonderful, wonderful and just wonderful. The world needs more Theo Koskoff’s.
          My best wishes for you and your family,
          Adrian Hinojos
          PS #WeWelcomeRefugees

        • Koskoff Family — Theo & parents: My grandfather came to the States as a Syrian refugee during the Ottoman genocide of Syrian Christians – Assyrians – Greeks – Armenians in the early 20th c. He was thirteen. He fled after having witnessed his cousin shot to death by a Turkish soldier in their home. At that time the Exclusion Law against Asians severely limited the amount of immigrants from everywhere in Asia inc. Syria to the US. I believe that someday ‘The wolf will live with the lamb’ (Isaiah 11:6) & that younger people such as your son will overcome old hatreds that some people still feverishly persist in. I want to say *Thank You* Theo’s parents — for bringing such a person onto this planet shimmering w/ life — & *Thank You* Theo for being such a person yourself.

          • PS: Also my grandmother came from Lebanon/Syria at this time (US Exclusion Law quota / Ottoman empire).

        • Elizabeth Thibault

          Your family seems to be doing something right, by having an engaged and civic minded son who is able to think critically for himself about the issues and come to the thoughtful conclusions he has taken action about. Honestly, there is so much to criticize in the world, and for someone to dismiss his empathy and organization of a peaceful protest seems the height of vanity. Theo is displaying a humility and grace that we would be much richer for encouraging.
          Thank you!

      • I’m so impressed with your son’s actions . Every voice certainly matters. And my heartfelt thanks for all the work YOU continue to do, Mr. Koskoff!

      • The fact that anyone has a negative thing to say about a young person promoting goodness in this world is beyond disturbing. Thank you Josh and Darcy for raising your children right. The majority of us are with you.

    • WOW – Ms. Clerkin – unless you personally know the Koskoff family (and I don’t), you have some nerve questioning their parenting. IMHO, they are clearly good role models for their kids – they’ve obviously taught them to care and act on the things they care about, including absolute strangers. Something it would appear you do not. If kids stay out of politics, how will they learn to be involved citizens of our great (albeit flawed) nation?? I applaud Theo and the Koskoff family. Bravo, Theo – keep showing that love will trump hate!

    • Louisa D'Amore

      As one of Theo’s teachers, I am proud of his thoughtful and well-informed contributions to our class and to our community. He is both a role model to me, and to the other students in our class. Bravo, Theo!

    • Kids are our future. And more of them should become civically involved so that when they are old enough to vote, they have some knowledge of what their choices are. I know Theo’s parents, and they are exceptional role models. I salute Theo’s convictions and the values he espouses.
      We already have in place a thorough and stringent vetting process for immigrants to overcome before they can gain entry into the US. Nothing in life is 100% safe and certain, immigrants or anything else. Fear is a paralyzing state of mind, and has been used for too long as a political tool to sow doubt.

  6. It certainly is (past the) time that America pulls its weight regarding Syrian refugees. Obama didn’t. Will Trump? That’s the problem — the workings of the U.S. Government is always an unknown, a crap shoot, a gamble.
    Time for a new world leader? Where?

  7. Nancy …………. you can start by taking a few , actions speak louder than words !

  8. LOL

    • What is the resettlement count today?

    • Elizabeth Thibault

      Jenny, I think you might want to review the numbers. There are many countries taking in refugees, (not only from the Syrian conflict, but from many others around the world which do not get the same press coverage.) Our country to the north, Canada, has already resettled over double the number that the United States has. Canada, a country with 1/10th the population of the US. If the risks you’re certain we are facing aren’t materializing there, maybe there’s a problem with how we’re going about things?
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refugees_of_the_Syrian_Civil_War

  9. Theo. Well done!! You are learning that your voice can make a difference. You have learned that you live in a country where respectful protest is allowed. And you have learned that you should get involved in what concerns you.

    It is not important for me to tell you whether I agree or disagree with your politics. Instead it is more important to me to encourage you to continue your involvement and let your politicians (local and national) know how you feel.

    Do not stop!!!! Impressive!!!!

  10. Nancy ,
    if you are such an humanitarian , please stop pontificateing and do whats in your heart felt duty …adopt a family from syria………… lets us all know the outcome !

  11. Living through the conflict in Northern Ireland for thirty years when bombs went off every day ………….. I have a good idea about about life !

    • Refugees everywhere are not granted citizenship right away. Some never do. However, landed immigrants/refugees in most countries today have the right to work, as should be, so it is fitting to help.

  12. I DO know Theo AND his parents and they are some of the best examples of putting their words into action that I know. Darcy and Josh have given all three of their boys the gift of love, compassion and the commitment to action. As parents they lead by example beautifully and inspire me. Theo gives me hope that this next generation of young people will fight to make our world a better place. Thank you for your bravery and your kind heart, Theo.

  13. ahlan wa sahlan (= you have come upon family & can now be at ease) ❤

    http://www.adc.org

  14. my home is your home

    http://www.aaiusa.org

  15. Theo is young, but he is in no way childish. His determination in trying to make even a small mark in protest and hope for this country to maintain the integrity we all stand by and have until now taken for granted is admirable. It is easy to judge the actions of people with different opinions about deporting foreign citizens and other important matters, and from a safe critical distance. If they feel they can criticize someone who with his whole heart and belief that we all have the power to protect what we stand for, and to invest the time and effort to stand up and be heard, they must consider how important it is to teach our children, inform them and encourage them to become responsible adults.

  16. Michele Smolen

    May I THANK YOU Dan, for your perfect response to the D. Feliciano
    remarks

  17. Michele Smolen

    And THANK YOU Theo Koskoff.

  18. Ms. Clerkin: You say you lived through horrible times in Northern Ireland. It is sad that the lesson you took away seems so limited. If we thought you would have carried a bomb here, would you have been admitted. If you were not white, would you have been allowed to enter the country?

    • Yes, and to realize that The Troubles have ended in favour of peace.

    • Thank You for this Mr.Mankin. I was going to say something along these lines — but as I am really quite exhausted from fighting all the racism — I chose instead (in this thread) to describe the immigration of my Syrian grandparents who fled persecution during the Ottoman genocide and thank Theo & his parents.

      If you read my post they were also under the strict Asian Exclusion law quota when they arrived here — which favoured Europeans inc. those from Ireland.

      Apparently not much has changed in over 100+ years. I find it ASTONISHING that my Syrian Lebanese family has been here for over 120+ years (my grandfather having followed his much older brothers to The States over 15 years after them) and yet a most likely very pale person who is a VERY recent immigrant has the AUDACITY to tell Syrian Americans that WE should NOT be able to come here.

      Syrians arrived here w/ the Spaniards in the 16th c. — long before the Irish. I find it amazing when recent immigrants want to slam the door behind them. Especially during one of the WORST migration crises in history. It illuminates a frightening lack of humane empathy.

      Please everyone: go to the Arab American Institute’s list of ‘famous Arab Americans’ (or ‘American Arabs’ as the ADC says). It includes a tiny fraction of American Arabs who were/are at the top of their field — many in various fields are left out & it is an old list — but it is somewhat helpful in combating the unrelenting racism we are forced to experience daily. My father — a former VP of NBC radio & the first ever freelance radio consultant — is on that list. He was one of several ‘radiomen’ in Westport in the 60s & 70s & 80s.

      If there were no Syrian immigration there would have been no Steve Jobs & hence no apple & no iPod & no iPhone & no iPad etc. We live outside of storybooks & films in the modern world & that means we are American ALSO. As — for one other example — Ralph Nader has proven. (If car safety matters to you — then please realise we have it because of Syrian immigration).

      It is even more astonishing that someone who came here from a country w/ one of the WORST terrorism histories on the planet (& either side has my empathy) would sit in judgement of Syrians FLEEING Daesh (IS) AND a lunatic dictator. People risking life & limb to live in peace have ZERO desire to kill you.

      Lastly — in response to the comments by this same person from Northern Ireland that a poster take in a Syrian family if they are so supportive of Syrian refugee immigration (said sarcastically): Most Americans (& some others) seem completely unaware that Syrians FROM Syria are some of the most highly educated & skilled people on the planet. Unlike others from so called ‘developing’ countries — they arrive as refugees w/ highly developed skills & knowledge in various fields & often speaking more than one language (English & French &c). Please don’t infantilise your future Syrian American doctors & professors & medical technicians & scientists &c.

  19. I’m not sure why this extremely racist trolling of me is allowed to persist (‘Bart Shuldman on December 1, 2016 7:55am’ comment) from someone who has singled me out for this on other related threads (inc. when I defended Muslims).

    Any literate person can read that I wrote that I & my family & other Syrian & Arab Americans ARE AMERICAN & have been AMERICAN for many centuries. Yet this person persistently trolling me (at times w/ several others) has now asked me if I “hate Americans” (toward end of thread).

    I refuse to address this kind of bizarre attack & have sent his comment along w/ mine to various American Arab human rights orgs. (The American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee / The Arab American Institute / The Arab American National Museum) to know if they want to archive it for educational & historic purposes.

    • *correction to paraphrase: ‘asked me if I have “hatred towards the USA”‘.

    • *& another trolling comment left moments ago by the same person (‘Bart Shuldman on December 1, 2016 at 12:51pm’). These are directed ONLY at me — despite there being MULTIPLE people in this thread who voiced very similar views to mine.

      • Zoe, please stop. These are not “trolling” comments. When you post something on a blog like this, people respond. No one is trolling you. No one is out to get you. No one is persecuting you. People may be reacting to your long, constant, repetitive responses to every single person who responds to every single thing you post. It’s tiresome. Please, please stop.

        • I have “stopped” Dan. Actually. If you read my last post you should have surmised that. Asking me if I “hate the USA” after what I posted attempting to educate two people (who made racist comments here) about Syrian Americans IS ACTUALLY COMPLETELY RACIST trolling. (As confirmed by the above mentioned agencies I just spoke w/ over the phone — after emailing them). Nor did I post after everyone’s post — as you have stated. (Echoing the person who has repeatedly trolled me). I am not going to address the rest of the things you said except to say it is not about ME as you have stated (“persecuting”?). It IS about the subject of the article: The Westporter supporting refugees AND about addressing racist posts in this thread regarding his enlightened advocacy.

  20. Sir — if you read bottom of thread I had already said that due to the kind of abuse & inhospitality & unkindness & hostility you have also just engaged in. I was simply trying to be kind answering your strange accusation/questions re. Jesus. Mizrahi/Oriental Jews exist Sir — then as now.

    • *That last response (December 4 at 2:07 pm) was in response from a comment Dick Lowenstein just directed to me (which came to my inbox) — I answered directly — I don’t know why it went here — rather than after his comment (the last few invisible in the thread).

      Please leave me alone people. You are literally making me feel ill. I am a human being w/ feelings. This thread has now been archived (as of Friday) in the archive of The Arab American National Museum (http://archive-it.org/organizations/512) for educational & historic purposes.

      • *In addition to the thread having been archived Friday (on a “crawl” meaning they will still have it if it is taken down) I have just taken screen shots of the abusive comments sent to my inbox this morning — which disappeared when looking at the thread as a whole. (Those were from Dick Lowenstein & Michael Petrino & Bart Shuldman). So I will send those along for the museum & the other orgs. — written of above — to archive as well. In case you think you can get away w/ abusive comments to me that disappear in the thread w/ no one else in the wider world seeing them.

        • Good that their childish remarks were removed.
          Just try not to reply to them in future (unless you have a good sense of humor!)

          • Nancy I am never posting here again. I ONLY came back online to this blog due to this ‘refugees’ post & only answered Mr.Lowenstein’s strange question asking me if I think Jesus was an ‘Arab’ (by explaining that people call themselves Syrian Jews… that it is a region & culture which shares musical instruments/traditional dress/food/language etc. vs. a religion) because he was attempting to accuse me of some weird lying conspiracy about Jesus being an ‘Arab’. (There is some man saying that online I saw afterward). Obviously any Xtian has to believe that Jesus was Jewish. As far as the most recent comments not showing up in the thread (as happens on post after post) — as I said I have taken screen shots of all of those as they arrived in my inbox & am sending those on to the orgs. I wrote of above for the same archives. So there will be a historical record for educational purposes. Nancy thank you for your support. I wish you LOVE & PEACE. Please look after yourself & have a happy Advent / Winter Solstice.

  21. @Dick Lowenstein. What does it matter the time of my post: I have the flu so could not sleep & answered your questions (despite not wanting to post here anymore) out of KINDNESS. Your response attempting to humiliate me (for ZERO reason) shows you are a man filled w/ HATRED. Your posts are being archived in an American museum as an example of THAT hatred.