There will be no refugees in Israel: Asylum seekers to be deported to unnamed African country

Israel/Palestine
on 60 Comments
asylum photo
Asylum seekers in Tel Aviv displaying their UN refugee registration cards.
(Photo: Natan Dvir/Haaretz)

Imagine a persecuted minority on a boat, turned away harbor after harbor. Imagine this boat is then found at sea by an Israeli ship that welcomes everyone aboard, and gives them food and water. Miraculously a head of state then intervenes and gives the lot automatic asylum. Keep this visual, and now picture the 2,000 Africans locked in a desert detention facility when they came to learn earlier this month that instead of being released on a path to refugee status, they are being sold to an unnamed third-party nation.

This is Israel’s asylum process. It is not uniform; no precedents are in place that courts can enforce, and the only real law that counts for taking in non-nationals is the Law of Return, which accepts Jews—refugees and economic immigrants alike—only.

The boat people in the above tale are 66 Vietnamese that were given sanctuary in 1977 when Prime Minister Menachem Begin  gave a directive for immediate asylum. Their success is an outlier, as Israel has approved less than 200 asylum cases since the state’s founding. But as an outlier, it is also paradigmatic of how asylum is processed, meaning that it isn’t processed at all. A decree from the Prime Minister’s office circumvented the possibility of opening a Pandora’s Box of demographic threats that could surface if Israel applied international conventions on the status of refugees. For in the background, there are 7 million Palestinians living in protracted refugee states, pounding at the box’s nails for a return enshrined in humanitarian law.

This demographic threat has effects far greater than just Israelis and Palestinians. It has consequences for today’s some 60,000 African asylum seekers who have been subject to an array of polices from deterrence to criminalization. Now Israel has announced a national solution. What will go into effect is that a third party unnamed country has agreed, and three others are negotiating, to absorb them—mostly from Eritrea and Sudan—in exchange for an undisclosed financial sum and agricultural training for the deportees.

In protest 300 Eritreans imprisoned in the Saharonim detention facility near Egypt have been on hunger strike for the past seven days.

The political asylum deal was confirmed in an affidavit earlier this month when submitted to the Knesset during a reading of a controversial detention law under scrutiny. A decision on the Anti-Infiltration Law of 2012 is expected in the coming weeks, but the appending transfer to Africa will move forward, despite the court’s verdict.

“[T]he arrangements will be implemented over a long, multiyear term,” wrote Haggai Hadas, the state negotiator for refugee relocation. Hadas has made several visits to African countries since his appointment to find a partner willing to accept funds for refugees. It’s worth pointing out that Israel’s refugee dump is now based on the Prime Minister and Immigration Minister’s office, not international norms or public oversight, and is beyond the scope of judicial review.

“What it means is that these people have a deportation order en masse,” under the title of an “infiltrator” said David Jacobus, an attorney who works with the African Refugee Development Center (ADRC). Although it has a pejorative ring the title—“infiltrator,” is Israel’s legal term for asylum seekers, and it’s not a far stretch to see how this “hate rhetoric” taped to a law was “contributory to the summer violence” in 2012, explained Jacobus. That summer, the “summer of hate,” politicians incited mobs to beat Tel Aviv’s African population, Ethiopian-Israelis included. Since then violence and rallies calling to send home refugees have been the official theme of a flurry of Knesset member supported religious holiday festivals.

More concerning is an administrative detention amendment to the infiltration law; a cornerstone of Israeli military code applied in the West Bank to jail Palestinians will be used inside of Israel against refugees. Ironically a precursor policy, the Anti-Infiltration Law of 1954 was intended to imprison enemy combatants who illegally entered the country from hostile states. Critically, the 2012 enhancement blindfolds immigration judges from discerning between refugees fleeing war, and an armed militant entering the state to harm it.

Adding to the frenzy, at the beginning of the year a border police unit was installed to monitor refugees in Tel Aviv’s Neve Sha’anan neighborhood. “There have been a lot of changes in municipal tensions in the past two months,’ said Jacobus. He continued, that the police are supported by an also new group of city inspectors that do not carry weapons, “but they have theses little booklets,” for issuing citations, an on-going harassment and financial burden for Africans whose visa status forces them into under the table jobs only. Already this unit has raided the area, notably pouring bleach over the refugee’s food last May.

History of an ureasonable path to political asylum

Before the Anti-Infiltration Law, “the rest of their policies were typified by avoidance,” said Jacobus. Those looking for sanctuary were released from detention and covered by “collective non-removal,” meaning that the state had a pending deportation order in place, but avowed it would not go into effect. But around the time the Anti-Infiltration Law went into effect, Israel ended collective non-removal for persons from the south of Sudan. Following the referendum for an independent South Sudan, in January 2012 Israel ended group protection and announced in two months time the state would deport every single person hailing from the new African country.

Unsurprisingly mistakes were made, and Africans of all background were rounded up and thrown in a detention facility. Nearly a hundred from Eritrea were arrested days before the government said they would arrest all South Sudanese who had not left the country. Another major problem is that the state’s registration often incorrectly stated a person was from South Sudan when they were really from (north) Sudan. Refugees told ARDC about unconfirmed instances where North Sudanese were deported to South Sudan, a dangerous and negligent action on the part of Israel.

Such haphazard policies for asylum are characteristic of Israel because the state has no law for refugees, except for the Law of Return. Until 2009 the United Nations ran the process for non-Jews, but when it was put under the arm of the Ministry of Interior, Israel stopped processing paperwork on refugee claims. It is well known that asylum is near impossible in Israel, but this is not because petitions were outright denied. Rather the government refuses to read the case files, and so refugees are in the terrible position of filing out paper work that end up in a back room file cabinet. More so, refugees have reported the Ministry of Interior told them not to bother with the forms and opt for “self-deportation.” Myself, I have seen in this government office asylum seekers denied appointments to file their claims.

In part, the dysfunction is simple practicality. Though hailed as a country founded by the state-less and a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, until the past decade Israel has never had a large number of asylum seekers to deal with. The first Jewish arrivals from displacement camps after World War II became citizens, exempting the need for an asylum process. Israel’s only domestic compliance with the refugee convention was the “Law of Return” – the only way “refugees” entered until the recent Ministry of Interior intervention.

For Palestinian refugees Israel forbids their return through state law. The Absentees Property Law of 1950 was a grab bag of land reform for the fledgling state, as well as the first legal definitions of who is a “Palestinian” and who is an “Israeli.” The law decided “Palestinians” were persons who could not come back, and whose property could be seized by the state. This rendered impossible under domestic code the return of refugees. In one swoop all who were exiled, or by happenstance were out of the country were blocked from citizenship, or refugee status, by the new government.

Hadera-Gedera or get out

In terms of non-Jewish refugees entering, until 2005 the numbers that came on foot for a safe haven were still nominal. But when the number of refugees catapulted to thousands, the state made a series of unsuccessful forays into refugee relocation. Briefly in 2007 Israel pushed Sudanese over the border to Egypt, known as “hot returns,” which ended with Egyptian soldiers shooting at the downtrodden. Then in 2009 the “Hadera-Gedera” plan went into effort, only to be canceled that same year.

Hadera-Gedera was Israel’s only serious attempt at internal placement of refugees, ending the dumps to central Tel Aviv. Yet it was hated by just about everyone. It had an eerie social engineering element to it as well. The idea was to move refugees from congested Tel Aviv to the north and south of the state (north of Hadera and South of Gedera). In the lead up to implementation, Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich visited refugee neighborhoods, lamenting, “That’s what they do all day… Sitting, smoking and drinking?” Hadera-Gedera was supposed to give asylum seekers opportunities loftier than “smoking and drinking” by integrating them into Israeli society

However, the plan was a fantastic failure, killed by mayors across the state that did not want large numbers of Africans moving into their cities. The mayor of Hadera was even slapped with a lawsuit for busing refugees back to Tel Aviv. Shortly after, the program ended. Since that time the only other state program to comprehensively address Israel 60,000 asylum seekers as a whole is the recently announced third-party relocation.

Still this is the second try by Israel to resettle refugees outside of its borders. In 2007 Ghana and Kenya were under consideration, but the deal never went through. Oddly, this time around Eritrea is one of the names tossed around, bringing up the issue of selling refugees to a state with its own population flight and civil strife, run by an “unhinged dictator.” By comparison, the United States approves around one quarter of all refugee claims from Eritrea and the Department of Homeland Security lists Sudan and both countries as “priority” zones. And Temporary Protected Status for South Sudanese was extended despite the state’s founding – whereas Israel dumped them.

If this plan goes into effect, it will be a travesty for asylum seekers. Many trekked across multiple state lines to reach Israel, and some have been in country for over 20 years. The plan has no consideration for complicated cases such as mixed marriages or medical needs not available in the proposed host country. But overall the real issue is that third-party resettlement circumvents Israel’s obligation to the 1951 treaty. Asylum seekers need a reasonable process to access rights enshrined by international law—rights Israel helped draft in the aftermath of the Holocaust. Instead, the Jewish state has opted for legal maneuvering that ostensibly is the state-sanctioned sale of humans. Is this the bounty on not bending an inch to maintain a Jewish demographic?
 

About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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60 Responses

  1. Annie Robbins
    July 1, 2013, 10:16 am

    when i was in jerusalem in 09 the person who hosted us at his apartment worked with refugees who were being housed in a prison under lock and key. this seemed very strange to me. he said at the time the government was allocating these day passes where people could get out by agreeing to work for the day? for free or something. this is from memory and it sounded very strange to me at the time. i asked, do they get paid? and he said no it was some kind of exchange. so basically the refugee could be a slave for the day. they had thousands of these people stored in prisons. it was almost too radical for me to believe. perhaps i misunderstood.

    • yaeli
      July 2, 2013, 1:42 am

      Oh, so you don’t remember correctly, might have misunderstood at the time….and yet you make *horrific* allegations of slavery and abuse.

      No. Just no.

      • Annie Robbins
        July 2, 2013, 2:02 am

        i didn’t say i don’t remember correctly. that’s what i remember. although i could have misunderstood, like i said it seemed very strange. a strange allegation. it won’t go away because you say ‘no’.

        link to mondoweiss.net

  2. OlegR
    July 1, 2013, 10:45 am

    / Many trekked across multiple state lines to reach Israel, and some have been in country for over 20 years./
    Tell that to US immigration authority i am sure they will have a good laugh.

    The majority of these illegal immigrants are young men that fled the draft of the Arithrean army they have no ties to this place and no families or trades for that matter.

    • amigo
      July 1, 2013, 11:59 am

      “The majority of these illegal immigrants are young men that fled the draft of the Arithrean army they have no ties to this place and no families or trades for that matter.”o-leg

      So they are no different from the so called Jews with blue eyes and blond hair who stole the Native,s land and forced them from their homes.You for example.

      In any event what you really mean to say is—they are not Jews.

      Attack in Tel Aviv: ‘Jewish girls do not go out with Blacks!’see other thread.

      Yes oleg, your beautiful tolerant democratic blight unto the nations.

      Pack your bags Oleg, your time in Palestine is getting shorter and shorter.

      1S 1P 1V.

    • Woody Tanaka
      July 1, 2013, 12:21 pm

      “The majority of these illegal immigrants are young men that fled the draft of the Arithrean army they have no ties to this place and no families or trades for that matter.”

      And they’re going to steal your precious bodily fluids and go after your white Jewish women folk…

    • Shegetz
      July 1, 2013, 12:38 pm

      Tell that to US immigration authority i am sure they will have a good laugh.

      Oh yes, ha-ha. So funny. Do you frequently trivialize the suffering of others?

      The majority of these illegal immigrants are young men that fled the draft of the Arithrean army they have no ties to this place and no families or trades for that matter.

      I’m so happy you know their cases so well and so personally as your empathy for other human beings really does shine on through, doesn’t it? Can’t take people who don’t want to fight and aren’t skilled, after all. Who’d want to? And those few who aren’t draft dodgers, well who cares? You’re not about to admit them either are you? So what does it matter? No connections, no skills, no value. Oh, wait – are you Jewish? No? Out you go!

      I suppose you’d even turn them away if they’d sailed up to you on the deck of the S.S. St. Louis itself.

    • Annie Robbins
      July 1, 2013, 12:51 pm

      Tell that to US immigration authority i am sure they will have a good laugh.

      did you bother to read allison’s article?

      Israel has approved less than 200 asylum cases since the state’s founding.

      our country would not be what it is today if this in any way resembled american policy. seriously oleg, get a grip.

      • tree
        July 2, 2013, 2:57 am

        did you bother to read allison’s article?

        Israel has approved less than 200 asylum cases since the state’s founding.

        our country would not be what it is today if this in any way resembled american policy. seriously oleg, get a grip.

        Info to back up your point, annie:

        A specified number of legally defined refugees, who apply for asylum either overseas or after arriving in the U.S., are admitted annually. Refugees compose about one-tenth of the total annual immigration to the United States, though some large refugee populations are very prominent. Since World War II, more refugees have found homes in the U.S. than any other nation and more than two million refugees have arrived in the U.S. since 1980. In the years 2005 through 2007, the number of asylum seekers accepted into the U.S. was about 48,000 per year. This compared with about 30,000 per year in the UK and 25,000 in Canada. The U.S. accounted for 15% to 20% of all asylum-seeker acceptances in the OECD countries in recent years.[1]

        link to en.wikipedia.org

  3. amigo
    July 1, 2013, 11:45 am

    “i asked, do they get paid? and he said no it was some kind of exchange. so basically the refugee could be a slave for the day.” Annie

    Israel, the Apartheid Slave master.

    In Ireland we pay these people a mere 20 euros a week but they are fed and have a place to stay while they go through the process which can take up to four years.

    Israel has zero morality or common decency.It is headed for total collapse.

    • yrn
      July 1, 2013, 3:04 pm

      Here is how it works here
      Annie is publishing a stupid LIE with no evidence what so ever and mentions at the end “perhaps i misunderstood.”
      and here we go it’s kosher for spewers as Amigo, to let it go.
      “In 2012, 2,260 people were refused entry into Ireland and subsequently returned.”
      “298 unsuccessful asylum applicants and irregular migrants were deported during 2012 from Ireland.”
      “68 asylum seekers were transferred under the Dublin Regulation to the EU Member State in which they first applied for asylum.”
      “1,750 unsuccessful asylum applicants were checked against UK immigration records”

      Ireland …… morality my A**

      • Annie Robbins
        July 1, 2013, 3:44 pm

        yrn, i am not lying about him saying that to me. i was staying at the apartment which he had offered to house some of the people in our delegation and when i asked him what kind of work he did when he was leaving in the morning he said he was a working with refugees who were living in a prison. i assumed there was some reference to this in the press so i did a little googling. from 2010:

        link to aljazeera.com

        Last week the Israeli daily Haaretz, reported that 10 unaccompanied minors are being held in the same living quarters as men at Saharonim prison.

        Yael Kitzis, an attorney for the justice ministry, called the conditions “a blatant violation of state regulations”.

        “They’re in terribly crowded tents of 18 people in the extreme heat and cold of the desert day and night,” Kitzis stated.

        “We were there in the winter and it was cold in the daytime. We didn’t want to think about what happens there at night.”

        …..

        In February, The Jerusalem Post reported that two dozen unaccompanied minors, aged from 13 to 17, were being held in Givon prison, a facility intended for criminals.

        While the children were not being housed with adults, they were locked up for 21 hours a day. Many were depressed. Those thought to be suicidal were put into solitary confinement and, The Jerusalem Post states, “sometimes chained to the bed”.

        Attorneys at the justice ministry filed a petition against several governmental bodies, including the interior ministry, to protest against the children’s treatment, stating that it was unlawful.

        …….

        Left without work permits and government assistance, African refugees must resort to taking any job they can.

        While Israeli labour laws apply to anyone who works, regardless of their legal status, employers sometimes take advantage of asylum seekers, who do not know their rights or are afraid to speak up.

        Common violations are excessive work hours, underpayment and non-payment of wages.

        Policy of deterrence

        Yohannes Bayu, the founder and director of the African Refugee Development Committee (ARDC), says: “Everyday their rights are violated because of the lack of status.”

        He recalls a time when a Tel Aviv park popular with refugees resembled a slave market. Employers would drive up and pick them, judging by “who is the strongest,” he says.

        Due to media attention, this has improved slightly. “Still, the people are confessing so many problems,” Bayu says. “You can’t even imagine.”

        Bayu, himself a recognised asylum seeker who fled the Ethiopian civil war, emphasises that the refugees are not asking for handouts. Just as much as his organisation is a “refugees’ for refugees programme”, the community is able to support itself – if the government will give them a chance.

        Israeli: Detention center for Africans a ‘prison’
        link to news.yahoo.com

        35,000 refugees from countries like Eritrea, Sudan, Congo, Ivory Coast, and Ethiopia live in Israel. Every refugee that crosses into Israel is detained at one of two Israeli detention facilities. . As of today, approximately 2,000 refugees and asylum seekers, including women, small children, and unaccompanied minors, are currently in Israeli prison facilities. An under-funded and often discriminatory prison system means that refugees have to wait several weeks or even months before seeing a prison physician and issues like rehabilitation and mental health are wholly neglected. After waiting weeks, months, and sometimes years, asylum seekers are released with nothing but a bus ticket to one of Israel’s major cities.

        Life in Israel after prison is not easy. Refugees from Sudan and Eritrea are allowed to work; however, if they arrived to Israel in the last two years, their ‘conditional release’ VISAs from detention do not explicitly grant them the right to work, making many employers wary about hiring them. Except for a few small groups, refugees and asylum seekers from other countries do not have permission to work. Because of this situation, many asylum seekers work in the unregulated job market where they are often underpaid and overworked.
        …..
        While there is not vast homelessness (a recent UNHCR survey showed that less than 200 asylum seekers are sleeping in the parks and beaches of Tel Aviv), many asylum seekers are leaving in precarious situations in overcrowded apartments. Women are particularly vulnerable in such situations, as sex is sometimes a precondition to being taken in to an apartment. Currently, the State of Israel does not provide any homeless shelters available for refugees and asylum seekers.

        link to refugeehaggadah.org

        not sure what year that was published.

      • hophmi
        July 1, 2013, 3:52 pm

        Just curious Annie – what work have you done on refugee and asylum issues in the United States?

        Are you really interested in the issue, or do you just care because it’s Israel?

        Because the issue of the asylum and refugees is a worldwide issue, and the Israeli angle of it is hardly more complex or disturbing than it is elsewhere.

        I think the AP article makes clear that the asylum issue is controversial in Israel; many believe the detention camps are wrong, many aren’t in favor of allowing the refugees into Israel. We have exactly the same kind of debate here over our borders, and even though we deal with problems like these on a much larger scale, our immigration procedures are byzantine.

      • Annie Robbins
        July 1, 2013, 4:29 pm

        hops, i can’t say it has ever been on top of my list of issues and i have never studied it.

        aside from teaching an art class for a year to refugee teens from africa and the middle east (some who did not speak english), and volunteering at a kindergarten for the children of argricultural workers for about a year (no english), i don’t have any experience working on refugee ‘issues’ nor do i know that much about it. but obviously we have a lot of refugees here. i don’t think shegetz’s comment was appropriate tho. i know lots of refugees have suffered in the US including US jails, but i’ve never heard of the US building prisons in the desert to store refugees. that seems radical. and housing refugee children in jails. weird.

        and i have always been pro immigration wrt US policy.

      • yaeli
        July 2, 2013, 1:49 am

        US houses asylum seekers in federal detention centers. They have a 95% rejection rate for asylum.

      • amigo
        July 1, 2013, 4:43 pm

        yrn, Ireland …… morality my A**

        We have not dropped any WP on our neighbors lately, nor are we keeping 1,5 million people in an open air prison or are we running around stealing passports from sovereign nations with which to carry out targeted assassinations (murder) .Want me to continue.

        As I said Israel has zero morality.

        BTW do provide a source for your claims.That is how it works around here.

  4. Woody Tanaka
    July 1, 2013, 12:25 pm

    It makes me think of the MS St. Louis and how the US was so bad for not permitting the Jews to seek asylum here. Surely, after that experience, the “Jewish state” wouldn’t ever turn down someone seeking asylum. To do so would be to spit on the MS St. Louis Jews and vindicate those who sent the ship on its way, it seems to me. Hmmmmm…….

    • hophmi
      July 1, 2013, 3:53 pm

      ” Surely, after that experience, the “Jewish state” wouldn’t ever turn down someone seeking asylum.

      As Americans, we surely wouldn’t turn down someone’s application to come here, since immigrants built our country.

      It happens, and not every asylum seeker has a meritorious case.

      • Woody Tanaka
        July 1, 2013, 6:54 pm

        “As Americans, we surely wouldn’t turn down someone’s application to come here, since immigrants built our country.”

        Did Americans experience the equivalent of the St. Louis?? No. So your comparison is foolish.

        “It happens, and not every asylum seeker has a meritorious case.”

        S0 then when we hear the whining about the St. Louis, we can refer them to you and you’ll tell them, “It happens. Not every asylum seeker has a meritorious case. The St.Louis people simple didn’t merit asylum. Oh well.”

  5. hophmi
    July 1, 2013, 1:38 pm

    Only here, a blog based in the country that deports more people than anywhere else, could a country that has taken in more immigrants per capita than the vast majority of the countries on this earth come in for this kind of criticism.

    Just the sheerest, most ridiculous double-standard hypocrisy I have ever seen. And exactly the kind of thing Norman Finkelstein was talking about when he described you people as a cult.

    • eljay
      July 1, 2013, 1:59 pm

      >> Only here … could a country that has taken in more immigrants per capita than the vast majority of the countries on this earth come in for this kind of criticism.

      Ah, so this is how Zio-supremacists attempt to atone for the immorality and injustices the have committed – and CONTINUE to commit – against Palestinians: “Sure, Israel is an oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist ‘Jewish State’ proudly born of terrorism and ethnic cleansing, and f*ck every last one of the Palestinian trash and their descendants that we swept out of this supremacist country…but, gosh, we sure do love us our gays and our immigrants!”

      • hophmi
        July 1, 2013, 2:03 pm

        Sorry, but this is not about Palestinians. You’re complaining about treatment of the few thousand African refugees. Your knee-jerk pro-Palestinian boilerplate is irrelevant to the discussion.

    • Cliff
      July 1, 2013, 2:46 pm

      The US has 300 million people. Israel has 5 million. So the comparison is worthless.

      Norman Finkelstein did not call MW a ‘cult’.

      You describe America in a tone that suggests you’re not from here – BUT YOU ARE.

    • seafoid
      July 1, 2013, 3:49 pm

      “Only here, a blog based in the country that deports more people than anywhere else, could a country that has taken in more immigrants per capita than the vast majority of the countries on this earth…

      Thanks for a great laugh, Hoph. The reason why so many Jews immigrated was that there were basically no Jews there in the first place! It wasn’t “Jewish land”, in fact. It was a land without Jews.

      That is how colonisation tends to work. You have to bring in the people.

      • hophmi
        July 1, 2013, 4:55 pm

        “Thanks for a great laugh, Hoph. The reason why so many Jews immigrated was that there were basically no Jews there in the first place! It wasn’t “Jewish land”, in fact. It was a land without Jews. ”

        The reason, and get it straight, Seafoid, why Jews emigrated, is because they were persecuted. Most of those emigres were abjectly poor people who were either survivors of the Holocaust or refugees from Arab countries. Later on, they were people from the Soviet Union and from Ethiopia.

        Whatever you think the original sin was, it is an indisputable fact that many Western countries supported the Partition Plan because it helped solve the DP problem, and problem they were only to happy to solve somewhere else besides Europe. Now you blame those Holocaust survivors for going to Israel.

      • Shmuel
        July 1, 2013, 5:42 pm

        it is an indisputable fact that many Western countries supported the Partition Plan because it helped solve the DP problem, and problem they were only to happy to solve somewhere else besides Europe

        Indeed they were and they bear heavy responsibility for the consequences. The burden of their hypocrisy was lightened however, by none other than the Jewish Agency, which rejected only one article of UNSCOP’s majority proposal for the partition of Palestine — the one that called upon the General Assembly:

        to undertake immediately the initiation and execution of an international arrangement whereby the problem of the distressed European Jews, of whom approximately 250,000 are in assembly centers, will be dealt with as a matter of extreme urgency for the alleviation of their plight and of the Palestine problem.

        Source: link to unispal.un.org

        Abba Hillel Silver wasn’t, God forbid, suggesting that other countries shouldn’t take in Jews. He was just concerned that Jews wanting to go to Palestine might be forced to go elsewhere — although he also expressed the opposite concern that the recommendation would remain a dead letter.

        Silver also argued that the refugees were not the issue, that the real issue (to which there could only be one solution) was that of “Jewish national homelessness”.

        The “Western countries” in question (who, I believe, contrary to the JA, actually approved the article recommending an “international arrangement” for the resettlement of Jewish DPs) didn’t need to hear another word.

        Additional source: link to jta.org

      • Cliff
        July 1, 2013, 6:44 pm

        The original sin was Israel ethnically cleansing Palestinians from their homeland.

        Yes Holocaust survivors who stole Palestinian homes and land deserve to be blamed. The Palestinians didn’t make them Holocaust survivors.

      • hophmi
        July 1, 2013, 6:48 pm

        That’s not an opposite concern. It’s the concern that the GA plan would not be implemented, like many plans before it, and the refugees would continue to languish. It was a concern that the refugees would go nowhere.

        That’s not incompatible with a concern that people with family already in Israel would be forced to go elsewhere.

      • seafoid
        July 2, 2013, 1:24 am

        It wasn’t a solution, Hoph. 7 wars later I think it was a cop out.

        I agree totally on the role of the West BTW .
        They were so glad to get rid of their “Jewish problem”.

        But it is still a mess.

      • Shmuel
        July 2, 2013, 2:44 am

        That’s not an opposite concern.

        It is the opposite in the sense that Silver expressed both concern that the plan would be implemented and that it wouldn’t.

        It’s the concern that the GA plan would not be implemented, like many plans before it, and the refugees would continue to languish.

        So the way to ensure that it wouldn’t be a dead letter was to vote against it?

        It was a concern that the refugees would go nowhere.

        No, it was the concern that they would not go to Palestine. The goal of the Jewish Agency was to establish a Jewish state in Palestine that would also serve as a solution for the refugees, not to find a solution — any solution — for the languishing DPs. In other words, the Jewish Agency was not interested in solving the refugee problem (as the article in question proposed), but in implementing a very specific solution with far broader aims. It thus opposed a proposal that might have offered other solutions, arguing both that it wouldn’t work and that it might work too well.

        The “family in Palestine” argument is extremely weak (Silver understood that his position looked really bad), and the reason the JA voted against the provision quite obvious. The actual needs and desires of the DPs themselves were clearly not the JA’s main concern.

    • Woody Tanaka
      July 1, 2013, 6:55 pm

      “a country that has taken in more immigrants per capita than the vast majority of the countries on this earth come in for this kind of criticism. ”

      LMAO. “We let in a lot of Jews, so our racist denial of black asylum seekers should be A-Okay.”

  6. Shmuel
    July 1, 2013, 1:58 pm

    a country that has taken in more immigrants per capita than the vast majority of the countries on this earth

    Not immigration but repatriation (from a Zionist perspective). Big difference. When it comes to actual immigration (again from a Zionist perspective), Israel has one of the most restrictive, discriminatory immigration policies in the world.

    It is dishonest to present Israel’s Law of Return as some sort of super-liberal immigration policy, although that is precisely what the State of Israel has tried to do in international forums on immigration. It is also dishonest to take Finkelstein’s “cult” remark out of the very specific context in which it was made (goals of BDS), in order to apply it to any and every criticism of Israeli policy.

    • hophmi
      July 1, 2013, 2:08 pm

      “Not immigration but repatriation (from a Zionist perspective). Big difference.”

      No difference whatsoever. No country takes in everybody who wants to come, including and especially the United States.

      You don’t like to concede this point, that Israel has taken in hundreds of thousands from the Arab world, and tens of thousands from Africa, because it puts a hole in your nonsense about Israel being an white country.

      “It is dishonest to present Israel’s Law of Return as some sort of super-liberal immigration policy”

      Really? How so? Do you know of countries that take in abjectly poor people left and right and give them citizenship? Most of Israel’s olim haven’t been rich Americans, Shmuel. They’ve been poor Arabs, poor Ethiopians, and mostly poor FSU’s.

      “It is also dishonest to take Finkelstein’s “cult” remark out of the very specific context in which it was made (goals of BDS), in order to apply it to any and every criticism of Israeli policy.”

      I haven’t, but this kind of criticism illustrates his point. You want to go into immigration policy around the world, and specifically how these people are treated in the Arab world? Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians? That’s one thing. But this story, which is about a few thousand people, holds Israel to a ridiculous double-standard, particularly when the activists are American, and their country is deporting hundreds of thousands of people every year.

      • Shmuel
        July 1, 2013, 3:59 pm

        Hophmi,

        You made a comparison to the United States, shouting hypocrisy. The United States has an immigration policy – one definitely worthy of severe criticism, but a policy that includes the possibility of residence and work permits that allow for family reunification and eventual naturalisation. Israel does not. What it has is an ethno-religious repatriation policy that automatically grants citizenship to Jews and their relatives (unless that relative happens to be a Palestinian, of course). Those not eligible for citizenship according to the Law of Return have virtually no path to legal residency (except as strictly-regulated, single guest-workers) or naturalisation. That is not an immigration policy that can be compared in any way, shape or form to US immigration policy that has the mechanisms and indeed allows numerous immigrants to enter the country every year, and allows them to acquire citizenship through a naturalisation process that depends neither on the candidate’s ethnicity/religion nor on the whim of the Secretary of the Interior.

        That is why it is dishonest to compare Israel’s ethno-religious repatriation policy to immigration policy in countries like the US.

        As for my supposed cultish belief in “Israel being a white country”, you must be thinking of someone else. I lived there for most of my life, remember? I know exactly what Israel is and what it is not, without any difficulties in “conceding” anything.

      • hophmi
        July 1, 2013, 4:58 pm

        “but a policy that includes the possibility of residence and work permits that allow for family reunification and eventual naturalisation.”

        What planet are you on? There are 11 million people here with no documentation. You think that’s because we have the “possibility of resident and work permits”?

        “What it has is an ethno-religious repatriation policy that automatically grants citizenship to Jews and their relatives (unless that relative happens to be a Palestinian, of course). ”

        Its mechanisms are byzantine and discriminatory if you’re from a poor country.

      • Shmuel
        July 1, 2013, 5:06 pm

        What planet are you on? There are 11 million people here with no documentation. You think that’s because we have the “possibility of resident and work permits”?

        Once again, you’re doing your best to ignore that elephant and convince everyone else it’s not there. US immigration policy is shameful. Israel has no immigration policy beyond “repatriating” Jews. How many millions of legal immigrants live in the US? How many have been naturalised? In Israel, that possibility does not exist – except at the “discretion” of the Minister of the Interior. The reason Begin’s gesture toward a few dozen Boat People nearly 40 years ago keeps coming up is that there are no other examples. I repeat: Were US policy (as miserable as it is) to resemble Israeli policy in any way, you would be shouting bloody murder.

      • hophmi
        July 1, 2013, 5:25 pm

        ” I repeat: Were US policy (as miserable as it is) to resemble Israeli policy in any way, you would be shouting bloody murder.”

        If the US let in as many people per capita as Israel does, the right here would go nuts.

        My general point is simply this. A big deal is being made here over people who are coming across the border and are a mix of economic migrants and actual asylum seekers. I, like many, advocate allowing everybody to stay. So do a large percentage of Israelis; this has been extremely controversial in Israel.

        The debate there is, it seems to me, almost identical to the one we have here over Hispanic immigrants and similar to debates in Europe over border issues.

        These nuances are completely absent here, where the issue is a convenient excuse for entitled Westerners who do little on these issues in their own societies to bash Israel.

        Norman Finkelstein said that Israel did not have a great record on its treatment of minorities inside the Green Line, but that if you were going to make a big issue out of it, there were much better places to start, like the Dalits in India. This issue is a lot like that one.

      • Shmuel
        July 1, 2013, 6:17 pm

        If the US let in as many people per capita as Israel does, the right here would go nuts.

        If the US only let in Northern Europeans or Christians, everyone (except maybe the right – depending on which Christians) would go nuts.

        The debate there is, it seems to me, almost identical to the one we have here over Hispanic immigrants and similar to debates in Europe over border issues.

        Do you really think so? In Israel, there is indeed some debate over the issue of asylum seekers (although I doubt your assertion that a “large percentage of Israelis” “advocate allowing everyone to stay” – certainly not permanently and certainly not as naturalised citizens), but there is no debate over routine immigration and naturalisation of the (lousy) kind that is taken for granted in the US and Europe. If anything, there is pressure to make the Law of Return, which currently allows some non-Jews in, even more restrictive. It’s my turn to ask you what planet you live on.

      • hophmi
        July 1, 2013, 6:52 pm

        “If the US only let in Northern Europeans or Christians, everyone (except maybe the right – depending on which Christians) would go nuts.”

        What, you mean it’s just as easy to come into this country as a Muslim from the Middle East and Asia as it is for a Western European Christian? As easy for a Mexican to get citizenship as it is for a French person?

        “but there is no debate over routine immigration and naturalisation of the (lousy) kind that is taken for granted in the US and Europe. ”

        That is because outside of the Law of Return, Israel has had comparatively little emigration of the kind the US and Europe has dealt with. You’re talking about countries with the highest levels of immigration and asylum seeking in the world and you’re comparing them to tiny state with very little of the same issue.

      • Shmuel
        July 2, 2013, 2:24 am

        What, you mean it’s just as easy to come into this country as a Muslim from the Middle East and Asia as it is for a Western European Christian? As easy for a Mexican to get citizenship as it is for a French person?

        Come on, Hophmi. You know very well that that’s not what I said. The correct analogy would be not allowing in any non-Europeans (unless related to Europeans, and not Mexican). US immigration policy for non-Europeans is discriminatory, Israeli immigration policy for non-Jews is non-existent. To argue that these two issues are one and the same (or that Israeli immigration policy is actually more liberal) is dishonest.

        That is because outside of the Law of Return, Israel has had comparatively little emigration of the kind the US and Europe has dealt with.

        Lame excuse. Until the ’90s, Italy had no significant immigration, but still had immigration law and policy for immigrants of all religions and ethnicities. Israel has had significant guest-worker and migrant populations for at least 15 years. How long does it take to enact immigration and naturalisation law and policy? Obviously, Israel has no mechanism for the immigration of non-Jews, because it does not want any non-Jewish immigrants (unless they can be considered Jews in some way).

        You’re talking about countries with the highest levels of immigration and asylum seeking in the world and you’re comparing them to tiny state with very little of the same issue.

        No, you are the one who made the original comparison to US policy (“hypocrisy”, remember?). In any case, this is more of the same lame excuse. You don’t need to be as big or as popular an immigration destination as the US to have an immigration and naturalisation policy beyond “repatriation” of your preferred ethnicity/religion. “Very little of the same issue” doesn’t mean you can simply ignore it and pretend that “repatriation” is the same as immigration.

      • Cliff
        July 1, 2013, 4:11 pm

        hoppie said:

        [...]taken in hundreds of thousands from the Arab world[...]

        That is not immigration. That is the JEWISH ‘Law of Return’.

        It is a completely different context. Zionists ethnically cleansed the indigenous population and brought in hundreds of thousands of Jews to replace them.

        This would be like the US driving out all non-Christians and bringing in Christians from elsewhere to replace the recently ethnically cleansed.

        That’s not immigration in the benevolent tone that you drench your propaganda with.

        You are so effortlessly a liar.

      • Annie Robbins
        July 1, 2013, 4:42 pm

        Zionists ethnically cleansed the indigenous population and brought in hundreds of thousands of Jews to replace them.

        some zionists tried to cut a ‘trade deal/people exchange’ with the iraqi pm, british appointed, and when that didn’t fly stuff started exploding for iraqi jews in baghdad (similar to the lavon affair..the american library blowing up) and low and behold iraqi jews began to immigrate.

      • hophmi
        July 1, 2013, 4:59 pm

        “That is not immigration.”

        Actually, it was ethnic cleansing. Jews were ethnically cleansed from Arab countries, whether you care to deal with it or not.

      • hophmi
        July 1, 2013, 4:59 pm

        “low and behold iraqi jews began to immigrate.

        Lo and behold, Iraqi Jews were also persecuted.

      • Cliff
        July 1, 2013, 6:43 pm

        Prove that it was ethnic cleansing then.

        It wasn’t immigration, yes. Good that you’ve finally climbed down from bullshit mountain.

        These were Jews first and foremost when it came to ‘immigration’. Not Arabs.

        So you entire argument is a LIE (as usual).

      • Woody Tanaka
        July 1, 2013, 6:49 pm

        “Jews were ethnically cleansed from Arab countries,”

        Then, by all means. let them go back to make room for the returning Palestinians which the Jews ethnically cleansed.

      • Shmuel
        July 1, 2013, 4:23 pm

        No country takes in everybody who wants to come, including and especially the United States.

        This is the kind of dishonesty I’m talking about. You know very well that Israel’s “immigration” policy is in an entirely different category, and were the United States to apply criteria similar to those applied by Israel, you would be among the first to shout bloody murder. Yet you pretend that it is merely a matter of selective immigration policy — some countries have quotas, others have economic, educational or linguistic requirements, and Israel has ethno-religious requirements. Same difference, right?

      • Woody Tanaka
        July 1, 2013, 7:15 pm

        “…because it puts a hole in your nonsense about Israel being an white country.”

        Israel’s own Interior Minister stated that it was a country for the “white man.” Who are you to disagree?

  7. piotr
    July 1, 2013, 2:35 pm

    hophmi, a fair comparison is not to compare statistics on immigrants but on refugees. In Israel the number of refugees is under 1% of the population, and it is easy to list quite a few countries with a higher percentage, like Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Turkey and a number of African countries like Kenia.

    It is also easy to find countries with much better procedures of handling refugees, like giving them temporary status with permission to work and get social payments equal to the rights of citizens. If you compare per capita number of refugees who got such status in Israel with other countries, Israel would rate very poorly, and that includes USA.

    We criticize USA a lot here, and sometimes we should praise Israel for being better, and we could do more of it. I found one category: shackling ill prisoners, which allegedly is applied by Israel to Palestinian prisoners, while in USA it is quite universal, with some states but not all making exception for female prisoners in labor. Basically, Israel and USA are both the dregs of the “civilized West”.

    • hophmi
      July 1, 2013, 3:00 pm

      “It is also easy to find countries with much better procedures of handling refugees”

      Yes, and they are usually countries that handle tens of thousands a year and have for a long time, like the UK. Israel has had very few applications until the last few years, and these refugees are in reality a mix of real asylum seekers and people just looking to improve their economic opportunity. (That’s why they’re going to Israel, rather than someplace closer.) Read the UNHCR report. It takes time to create mechanisms for dealing with these problems. Israel has accepted refugees before, as they did with Vietnamese boat people in the 1970s. But they’ve never had anything like the last few years.

      The countries you list all border places of major conflict.

    • Cliff
      July 1, 2013, 4:31 pm

      piortr

      hoppie is not even talking about immigration

      he is characterizing the Jewish law of return as benevolent taking in of immigrants

      as if the US does the same analogous thing

      this is typical troll bullshit

      • hophmi
        July 1, 2013, 5:00 pm

        “he is characterizing the Jewish law of return as benevolent taking in of immigrants”

        It is benevolent; Western countries do not have a good record when it comes to giving citizenship to poor people.

      • Cliff
        July 1, 2013, 6:41 pm

        Neither does Israel.

        Israel gives citizenship to Jews. Not to ‘poor people’.

        Israel did not allow waves of ‘Arabs’ in. It allowed waves of Arab JEWS in.

        You have been spouting this bullshit all throughout the thread as if these were Arabs with no other identifier.

        Of course Israel would let in a bunch of Jews. Israel had just driven out the indigenous population. So it needed a bunch of Jews to move into Palestinian homes.

        You are a liar defending a nation of thieves.

  8. seafoid
    July 1, 2013, 3:53 pm

    “Asylum seekers need a reasonable process to access rights enshrined by international law—rights Israel helped draft in the aftermath of the Holocaust”

    Fast forward x years and a global war. Zionism has collapsed and there are 5 million Jew who need to make it out of the Middle East.
    no country will take them in. Why? Because of Israel’s behaviour now.

    • seafoid
      July 1, 2013, 4:11 pm

      Jews are also going to need robust international rules concerning the operation of war. They will need a system that punishes war criminals. Not “anything goes”.
      They’ll need treaties to be implemented and countries in breach to be dealt with. They’ll need international protection from torture. And from governmental death squads.
      Because any country could take the Israeli approach and make up its own rules. And that was never, ever, “good for the Jews”.

    • hophmi
      July 1, 2013, 5:00 pm

      “Zionism has collapsed and there are 5 million Jew who need to make it out of the Middle East.
      no country will take them in. Why? Because of Israel’s behaviour now.”

      What was the excuse in 1945?

      • Eva Smagacz
        July 2, 2013, 8:35 pm

        Hopmi, you ask :
        “what was the excuse in 1945?”

        I don’t know, Hopmi, but we can be sure that many countries had centuries long experience of coexisting with communities that seeded the Israel. Maybe there is an answer in that?

        Or, of course, it could be that goys are born with “Anti-Semitism” gene on position 14q11g12 on chromosome 14.

  9. just
    July 1, 2013, 8:04 pm

    “Being a Refugee in Israel

    As of 2009, there are approximately 18,000 refugees and asylum seekers in Israel – a majority coming from Eritrea, Darfur and Southern Sudan. Refugees have fled repression, civil wars, slavery, torture, religious and political persecution and the danger of ethnically-motivated murder. The Refugee Rights Convention of 1951 was drafted as a response to the millions of Europeans who became refugees as a result of the horrors of the Holocaust and the Second World War. The State of Israel became a signatory to the Refugee Convention in 1954. Since then, the government has failed to codify its obligations towards refugees and to honor its responsibility to provide fair asylum and rights to ensure the livelihood and dignity of refugees. ”

    link to amnesty.org.il

    And then there are the Palestinian refugees.

    It’s really very telling. Every time I mention this, I get the response of ‘who cares what the UN says?’ But Israel is a signatory, and they are stealing land and displacing the indigenous Palestinians at an ever- increasing rate, with only mild bleating, and a pat on the back from our Administration (s).

    “Look @ Syria, look @ Egypt, oh boy– look @ Iran!!”

  10. Henry Norr
    July 2, 2013, 12:44 am

    Meanwhile, “The World,” the daily radio news show produced jointly by Public Radio International, WGBH in Boston, and the BBC World Service, today responded all this with a five-minute fluff piece about Ethiopian-Israeli singer whose parents were rescued from a “dangerous” refugee camp in Sudan by “Operation Moses,” the Israeli government’s airlift for Ethiopian Jews. The subject, Esther Rada, grew up in Kiryat Arba, which the reporter, one Mirissa Neff, describes as “a volatile Jewish settlement on the outskirts of Hebron in the West Bank.”

    I tried to post a comment on the show’s website, but seven hours later, it’s still not visible, so I suspect the moderators killed it. Here it is:

    In all seriousness, did the Israeli Foreign Ministry pay Ms.Neff and/or The World to do this story? It sure is suspicious that you run a nice sympathetic profile of an African woman refugee who has found fame and fortune thanks to Israel’s generosity precisely at a time when hundreds of contemporary African refugees in Israel are on hunger strike because Israel is keeping them in prison without trial. (See, among many other sources, “Eritrean asylum seekers on hunger strike to protest detention without trial” 
published on June 27 at link to 972mag.com . While you produce this fluff about Ms. Rada, two Israeli NGOs, the Hotline for Migrant Workers and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, recently denounced the brutal conditions under which Israel holds African migrants. (“They are being held without treatment, without appropriate services and while ignoring studies showing that lengthy incarceration can have a particularly destructive effect on survivors of slavery and torture,” according to the report – link to haaretz.com ). Even the US State Department has criticized Israel’s treatment of African asylum seekers – see, for instance, the report by BBC, supposedly a partner in your show, at link to bbc.co.uk . 



    And all you have to offer is this fluff about Ms. Rada.



    By the way, it’s also not good enough to call Kiryat Arba, the Jewish settlement on the West Bank, “volatile.” Why don’t you also say it, like all the Jewish settlements on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, is illegal, according to the Geneva Conventions, Securiity COuncil resolutions, and a 14-1 ruling of the International Court of Justice?

    Check out the <audio archive and/or the transcript, then consider submitting a comment of your own.

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