Israel’s Refugee ‘Problem’

Posted in America, Current Affairs, Desert Bloc, European History, Media, Pax Americana, politics by Anuraag Sanghi on May 24, 2012

75 years ago, the world turned its face away from Jewish refugees from Germany. America allowed talented, the rich and accomplished Jews to come to America. Today Israel thinks that refugees are ‘cancer’ and ‘plague’

Jews were refugees a few decades ago. They seem to forget that.  |  Cartoon by Baloo; source & courtesy - balooscartoonblog.blogspot.com  |  Click for image.

Jews were refugees a few decades ago. They seem to forget that. | Cartoon by Baloo; source & courtesy – balooscartoonblog.blogspot.com | Click for image.

Nearly 75 years ago, on on 9–10 November 1938, German SA Sturmabteilung, Nazi Stormtroopers in English, attacked Jewish business and residential establishments. That was soon after the start of ten years of unprecedented persecution of Jews in Germany. That night came to known as the Kristallnacht– the night of crystal, as Nazi stormtroopers broke glass doors, displays and show windows.
After the WWII, governments the world over decided that the Jewish experience must not be repeated. Most countries put in place laws that would safeguard refugees. The strongest safeguards possibly were in Germany, itself.

In the last ten years, there have been an estimated 60,000 African refugee-immigrants (mostly from Sudan and Eritrea) who have come to Israel to make a living.

Protesters gathered Wednesday across the country to protest the growing influx of African infiltrators in Israel. Over 1,000 people attended the demonstration in Tel Aviv’s Hatikva neighborhood, holding signs calling for the deportation of the migrants, one of which read “Bibi [Netanyahu] decide – Sudan or Israel.” Similar demonstrations were held in Eilat, Bnei Brak, Sderot, Ashdod and Ashkelon. (via TA anti-African rally ends in rioting, a… JPost – National News).

Israelis, themselves seeking refuge a few decades ago, came out in the streets to create an opinion against African refugees.

Thousands of Israelis, including high-profile politicians, attended an anti-African demonstration in Tel Aviv. The rally turned violent, with attacks on Africans and grocery shop windows being smashed.

­The gathering, which took place in Tel Aviv’s Hatikva neighborhood, targeted the influx of African asylum seekers and was organized by Michael Ben Ari, a Knesset member from the National Union party, along with far-right activists Itamar Ben-Guir and Baruch Marzel, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports.

But the rally was also attended by politicians from the ruling Likud party, including Knesset members Miri Regev and Danny Danon.

Former army brigadier general and Israeli Defense Forces spokeswoman Regev described asylum seekers as a “cancer in our body.”

On Thursday, Regev explained that her use of the word “cancer” was meant “to illustrate the spread of a negative phenomenon. This is a manifestation of rage that has been unleashed after a long time of people feeling unsafe in their own homes.”

“With all due respect to the Left and Peace Now – they are the reason that our country is in the state it’s in. Because of their High Court petitions we cannot deport all those infiltrators to their countries of origin,” she reportedly charged.

Danon also said the “infiltrators” had to be immediately expelled from Israel.

“We should not be afraid to say the words ‘expulsion now,’” Danon was reported as saying.

The crowd carried signs proclaiming messages such as “This is not Africa” and “Stop talking, start expelling.”

But as the sun set the rally turned violent, with demonstrators attacking at least a dozen African men and women who were unfortunate enough to be near the scene. They also smashed the shop front of a grocery store that served the migrant workers, subsequently looting it. Dene. They also smashed the shop front of a grocery store that served the migrant workers, subsequently looting it. Demonstrators also broke the window of a cab driven by a suspected African migrant worker. A bonfire was also lit up in the street. On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his ministers that the phenomenon of “illegal work infiltrators” was “very grave,” and that it “threatened the social fabric of society,” Israel’s national security and national identity. He also warned that unless action is taken, the migrants could “inundate” the country and “cancel out its image as a Jewish and democratic state.”Thousands of migrants from Eritrea and South Sudan came to Israel, saying they wanted to escape the poverty and political instability at home. The government has been trying to deport refugees from South Sudan back to their homeland, but the motion was halted by the Jerusalem District Court. The court issued a temporary order prohibiting the deportation until it rules on a petition filed by five human rights organization against the state’s decision to deport the immigrants, arguing that their lives may be endangered if they return home. (via Israeli Kristallnacht: Africans attacked in Tel Aviv anti-migrant demo (PHOTOS) — RT).

Attention deficit disorder?  |  Cartoon by Baloo; other details embedded in image  |  Click for image.

Attention deficit disorder? | Cartoon by Baloo; other details embedded in image | Click for image.

Ironically, the Jewish State of Israel itself finds it difficult to handle some 60,000 African immigrants.

The Israeli prime minister has stoked a volatile debate about refugees and migrant workers from Africa, warning that “illegal infiltrators flooding the country” were threatening the security and identity of the Jewish state.

“If we don’t stop their entry, the problem that currently stands at 60,000 could grow to 600,000, and that threatens our existence as a Jewish and democratic state,” Binyamin Netanyahu said at Sunday’s cabinet meeting. (via Israel PM: illegal African immigrants threaten identity of Jewish state | World news | The Guardian).

In a nation of 80 lakh people (8 million), can less than 60,000 migrants become a threat?

Is the State of Israel so fragile?

Israelis claim that these Africans have increased the crime rate in Israel. Facts as reported by The Guardian, that

According to police data quoted by the Hotline for Migrant Workers, the crime rate among foreigners in Israel was 2.04% in 2010, compared with 4.99% among Israelis. Micky Rosenfeld, spokesman for the Israeli police, said the overall crime rate in Israel had fallen. There had been one alleged rape of a teenage girl connected to the migrant community, for which three suspects were in custody, he added.

Yohanan Danino, the Israeli police chief, said migrants should be permitted to work to discourage petty crime. Nearly all are unable to work legally, and live in overcrowded and impoverished conditions. “The community needs to be supported in order to prevent economic and social problems,” said Rosenfeld.

But the interior minister, Eli Yishai, rejected such a move, saying: “Why should we provide them with jobs? I’m sick of the bleeding hearts, including politicians. Jobs would settle them here, they’ll make babies, and that offer will only result in hundreds of thousands more coming over here.”

Israel has been paranoid about immigrants since this cartoon from this 1990.  |  Cartoons credits embedded.  |  Click for image.

Israel has been paranoid about immigrants since this cartoon from this 1990. | Cartoons credits embedded. | Click for image.

On the other hand, time and again, Jewry, seems to usually land up at the side of powerful oppressors. Ignoring the persecution of the Roma Gypsies for decades, Israel now pays lip service. In another part of the world, a commentator notes, for instance,

from 1948 until 1994, the semi-official bodies representing the Jewish community in South Africa had been consistently mute on the apartheid question.

In Israel itself,

Israel is constructing a vast steel fence through 150 miles of the Sinai desert as a deterrent to people-trafficking and the smuggling of drugs and weapons. The barrier would be completed, bar one small section, by October, Netanyahu said.

Israel is also constructing the world’s largest detention centre for asylum seekers and illegal migrants, capable of holding 11,000 people. The £58m building, close to the border, will receive its first detainees by the end of the year. Binyamin Netanyahu’s coalition has skimmed a minimum of 2% from every ministry’s budget to fund the construction and start-up costs of the (detention) building.

According to UNHCR figures, 66% of Eritreans who arrive illegally in the UK are granted refugee status and 96% of those arriving in Canada.

In 2010, Israel recognised three refugees, rising to six last year. In total, just 170 people claiming asylum have been granted refugee status by the Jewish state since it signed the refugee convention in 1949.

All this not surprising. Israel has seen itself as a part of the West. Never a part of the Middle East or considered Africans as close as people from Mars are. Israel’s biggest failure is the state of permanent hostility it has engendered in the neighbourhood. Israel’s dysfunctional relationship with its neighbours has taken significant efforts from Israel – possibly, based on its superior ‘European’ extraction.

The only logic for Israeli policy is the probable Israeli intention. Is it that they are not staying in the neighbourhood after, or when American aid ceases?

Last summer’s protests against the cost of living suggested that many Israelis were less than satisfied with the state of the state. Almost a year later, housing is as unaffordable as ever and wages are relatively low. The gap between Israel’s rich and poor remains one of the highest in the western world. This winter saw a steep increase in electricity and gas prices. And, despite last year’s “cottage cheese protests”, food prices continue to rise. (via Refugees join Palestinians as the reviled ‘other’ in Israel – The National).

Nearly 65 years ago, the world turned away its face from the fate of Jews in Germany.

Today Israel’s Interior Minister, Eli Yishai, Yishai said: “I’m not responsible for what happens in Eritrea and Sudan, the UN is.” Does the UN have a country where these refugees can stay? How does Yishai expect the UN to handle these refugees?

After ten years of persecution in Hitler’s Germany, one would expect global Jewry to change.


The fact they it has made no difference to them is probably my problem. But Jews have no such expectation of themselves.

It is a problem of my expectation.

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3 Responses

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  1. admin said, on May 24, 2012 at 8:08 pm

  2. admin said, on May 24, 2012 at 8:10 pm

  3. […] Israel’s Refugee ‘Problem’ (2ndlook.wordpress.com) […]

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