African infiltrators in Tel Aviv (Image credit: Avi Ohayon/Government Press Office of Israel)
In light of the growing crescendo of public debate on the matter, it is time to prove once and for all that virtually all of the African “asylum seekers” who have entered Israel illegally did so not out of fear of persecution, but rather to improve their material quality of life.
An analysis shows that not only is Israel justified in deporting them, but that doing so is an urgent national interest.
The entire movement of asylum seekers in Israel has been spearheaded by foreign-funded NGOs like Hotline for Refugees and Migrants. They, as well as other left-wing NGOs, are utilizing their connections to the Israeli press combined with a series of well organized protests to conduct a domestic media campaign, in an effort to prevent the deportation of illegal aliens who infiltrated Israel from middle Africa.
One tactic these NGOs have adopted is to play on the collective Jewish psyche by invoking images of the Holocaust. This insinuates that deporting migrant workers to anywhere in Africa is akin to deporting Jews to Nazi death camps in 1939.
They also often attempt to guilt-trip religious Jews into sympathizing with their cause. This is usually done by misinterpreting the famous quote from Exodus (22:20): “Do not mistreat or oppress a convert, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” What they fail to realize is that as the Jewish sages have explained, this is actually a commandment regarding the mistreatment of those who have already converted to Judaism - and is thereby completely inapplicable to migrants from Eritrea or Sudan. It also does not obligate leaving them in Israel.
Today, there are roughly 40,000 illegal aliens in Israel, mainly from Sudan and Eritrea. They claim to be asylum seekers. But are they? Let’s take a closer look.
Before we examine the evidence, it is important to understand the difference between an “asylum seeker” and a “refugee.”
According to Article 1 of the 1951 UN Convention, a refugee is defined as a person who “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”
An “asylum seeker” is someone who has not yet been approved for refugee status. A “refugee,” on the other hand, has already been granted this status.
This means that anyone who sneaks into Israel’s borders, no matter where they came from, can theoretically claim to be an “asylum seeker.” The validity of their claim, however, has to be verified by the local government.
The following are three pieces of evidence demonstrating why the overwhelming majority of illegal aliens in Israel from Africa are, in fact, migrant workers according to both international law - and a little something called common sense.
Reason 1: Proximity
Many of the left-wing NGOs like to cite international law as their main justification to keep the illegal aliens in Israel. However, what they often forget to mention is that while according to international law anyone is allowed to claim asylum anywhere, states may also lawfully remove asylum seekers to safe third countries on the grounds that they could have claimed asylum there.
This brings us to the choice these migrants made before their journey to the Promised Land. Let us put it this way - if you were escaping persecution in Eritrea, you would have two options:
Risk life and limb traversing both Sudan and Egypt - two countries known for killing asylum seekers on sight - just to get to Israel.
Cross the border into a country like Ethiopia, where safe refugee camps await asylum seekers from both Eritrea and Sudan.
Now although Ethiopia might not offer the same quality of life as Israel does, we need to remember that these are people who are supposedly escaping torture, death, or indefinite jail time for their ethnicity or political views.
Ethiopian refugee camps are not only safe for asylum seekers, but Zeynu Jemal, Ethiopia’s deputy director of the Administration for Refugees and Returnees Affairs, has announced a plan to integrate the country’s 850,000 refugees from Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and Eritrea into its economy, allowing them to work in its newly established industrial parks.
I interviewed a migrant worker in Tel Aviv who lived in an Ethiopian refugee camp, and even he admitted that it was safe. The reason he left the camp was because he believes that asylum seekers are entitled to both health care and education for their children (neither are the case according to international law).
Avoiding safety in a bordering country to risk death by crossing a third of Africa is not the behavior of an aspiring refugee, but rather of a migrant worker.
Reason 2: The Process
One common complaint heard from those defending the migrants is that Israel has no system of checking each asylum seeker’s status.
This is a lie. According to the foreign ministry, at least 500 asylum seekers from Darfur were granted refugee status. How is this possible if there is no system of review?
This leads us to our next question: If an Eritrean “asylum seeker” truly believes that he is a refugee, why not submit a request for refugee status and get approved like the 500 Darfurians did?
Perhaps the reason is because they are not in fact refugees, and don’t see themselves as such. This is being said not by “racist” Israel, but rather by the “enlightened” country of Switzerland, where a federal court recently ruled that Eritrean citizens can safely return to their native country.
Reason 3: Holot
If the left-wing, foreign-funded NGOs really wanted all of these migrants to undergo a review of their status as they claim, they should agree that the most efficient way to do so is by putting the asylum seekers into a refugee camp where Israeli officials can review them in an organized, efficient, and speedy manner.
Israel agreed; the NGOs did not.
The Israeli government tried to do this by setting up a refugee camp called Holot. There, all refugees were to be interviewed in an orderly and expedient manner to determine if the asylum seekers qualify as refugees.
Now it would be logical that an NGO wanting this process to take place so badly would be in favor of such a solution. Just the opposite was the case.
Foreign-funded NGOs actually encouraged the migrants to flee the detention center en masse. This led to almost 500 migrants running away from the Holot refugee camp in just one week back in 2013. Once they flee, the government’s ability to interview them becomes far more complicated. That is because they are now spread out thin throughout the country, making it difficult to track them down and review their status.
Even if you manage to get someone from an NGO like Hotline for Refugees and Migrants to admit that Israel does in fact have a system in place for reviewing the status of asylum seekers, they will often say that the system is corrupt since their approval rating is so low. What they often fail to mention is that only 15% of the roughly 40,000 migrants even bothered applying for refugee status.
And they have good reason. That’s because virtually all African migrants in Israel work without paying taxes, open businesses without proper permits, enjoy free healthcare and education for their children - all at the expense of the Israeli taxpayer.
If they were granted refugee status, they would have to abide by Israeli law. To avoid ending their freeloading party, it makes more sense for them to work (and live) off the grid.
What the far-left NGOs don’t like to talk about are all the intangibles. The migrants are largely concentrated in the poorer neighborhoods of southern Tel Aviv, and any Jewish Israeli resident of the area can recount the disturbing reality of how their lives have turned into a living nightmare since the Eritreans and Sudanese moved in.
The rapes, sexual assaults, theft, destruction of property, and overall violence has reached levels never before seen in Israel. Southern Tel Aviv has turned into a crime-ridden cesspool where even the police are often afraid to get involved in the almost nightly drunken brawls.
Very rarely are the migrants arrested, and when they are, they are often released as Israel has no protocol in place for migrant workers without documentation. This is despite the fact that an asylum seeker is automatically disqualified from refugee status as soon as he breaks the law of the land.
The Road Ahead
Under international law, Israel has the right to deny refugee status to all of the “asylum seekers.” To its credit, the Israeli government is trying to relocate the migrants to a safe third state where they can enjoy the basic human rights that even authentic asylum seekers deserve. They have done this by implementing the principle of non-refoulement through countries like Rwanda and Uganda, in an effort to resettle the migrant workers.
But foreign-funded NGOs like Hotline for Refugees and Migrants have not only refused to cooperate with the government to find a solution for relocation; they, along with left-wing Knesset members, are actively fighting it.
This was highlighted by a recent trip that members of Israel’s far-left Meretz party took to Rwanda and Uganda to investigate the fate of migrants who have been deported to the African states from Israel. In the excursion, which was funded by a German institute, Meretz MK Michal Rozin was forced to admit that the most compelling evidence for the migrants not to be transported to Rwanda was vague hearsay that they would be considered “illegal and therefore would enjoy no rights.”
However, there is a major flaw in that reasoning. If the Rwandan government does indeed agree to accept the migrants, it’s hard to conceive of how they could be considered “illegal.”
Keith Vaz, a politician from the UK Labour party, once said: “The very principle of seeking asylum is that you feel persecuted at the time you arrive, not saying you feel persecuted after arriving illegally or for different reasons and then remaining in the country until you are apprehended.”
It would be nice if Israel’s left showed the same level of common sense as their UK counterparts. But apparently when changing the Jewish nature of the only Jewish state becomes your number one priority, and the New Israel Fund is your ATM machine, any argument - no matter how unfounded - suddenly becomes valid.
Until then, the only ones living like true refugees are the Israeli native residents of southern Tel Aviv.