African migrants are “infiltrators,” a “cancer” and are “criminals” according to the opinion echoed by the Israeli Prime Minister, the Minister of Interior Eli Yishai and some in Israel who strongly believed, the recent flood of African migrants into Tel Aviv and other major Israeli cities, is the “crumbling of the Zionist dream” and a blow to decades old efforts to preserve the “Jewish blood.”
More than 60,000 African migrants from Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and other African nations call Israel home; some of the migrants left their countries of origin due to poverty, some are fleeing repressive regimes and some as a result of wars and unstable government, making them to fit the profile and status as refugees. However, in their search for a better life in a richer country, they are soon to find out they are unwelcome in a land considered one of the recognized democracies in the world.
Some Israelis claimed their national identity as a Jewish state is being threatened by the infiltration of unauthorized Africans, who make up about 1% of the population; some claim African migrants are the reason for a rise in crime in Israel and many are quick to say the presence of African migrants is the reason for a rise in diseases and a strain on the social resources of Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities.
Those who remember the creation of Israel will recollect it was established with the help of the United Nations, the United States and Europe about 60 years ago, the first settlers were migrants from different parts of the world fleeing atrocities of the Second World War and the Holocaust considered the worst genocide visited on the Jewish race. No doubt today that Israelis around the world enjoy certain privileges due to the Holocaust; they are found in almost all countries where they hold both political and economic powers. In fact, they are among the most prosperous in the world and wherever they live, they enjoy all benefits of the host country and there is no hindrance to their pursuit of happiness.
It is ironic that despite its history and world-wide condemnation of the atrocities perpetrated towards it, when six million Jews were exterminated by German Nazis and their collaborators; Israel has now emerged as a country to persecute African migrants, fleeing the scourge of war and the unfortunate poverty caused by economic imbalance and mismanagement by the African leaderships. Many of the migrants saw Israel as the only safety net, after their difficult voyage through the Sinai Peninsula and the desert region of Egypt, populated by Bedouin Arabs responsible for the capture, rape and theft of human organs belonging to captured African migrants, who in most cases, are held for ransom if not killed until their families in Africa can pay for their release. To know more about the Bedouins and their harsh treatment of African migrants, read my blog “Modern Day Slavery” available at http://san0670.wordpress.com or via Google search.
So far, Israel has claimed their presence in its territories is the reason for a rise in crime and diseases. To respond it is better to say such allegations are baseless for the followings; whenever people are denied of their basic human rights and the right to exist with dignity, part of the results of such mistreatment is to engage in criminal acts. A desperate mind may resolve to criminality in an attempt to survive; also, whenever people lack the basic human needs such as food, water, shelter and healthcare, there is possibility for sickness and eventually disease.
Many of the African migrants in Israel have been denied access to work legally in the country; they have no legal status and as a result cannot work. Their lack of resident permit is also a reason why they are denied social benefits available to Israeli citizens. Therefore, how does Israel expect such people not to engage in criminal acts? Or not to get sick with diseases when they lack the basic healthcare necessary to keep them healthy and fit as ordinary Israeli citizens?
Another allegation is that African migrants are putting a strain on the social benefits of Tel Aviv, due to their overpopulation of the city. To respond, there is hardly any major city in the world that does not experience a flow of migrant workers; thousands if not millions live in places like: New York, Madrid, London, Berlin, Oslo, Barcelona, and Paris to mention just a few; all those major cities, have managed to live with migrants by putting in place policies that allow for tolerance and survival of both nationals and foreigners.
If the government of Israel wants to control the population of Tel Aviv, it could have rounded up all foreigners in the city, process those cases that are legitimate for legal status and then assign them to different cities allover Israel. Those that meet the criteria for legal status would be allowed to travel anywhere within Israel however, they must reside in the city assigned for at least a number of years. As long as Israel can show a legitimate and pressing interest for making such a move, no one would criticize the government for restricting migrants’ residency within its territories.
Despite these options, the State of Israel has chosen to launch a campaign for the deportation and repatriation of African migrants. One example, a migrant from South Sudan who has lived with his family of five in Israel for five years; so far, he has been informed his entire family would be deported and the reason the government gave was because South Sudan is a stable country and not a war zone as claimed. It does not take much education to conclude that South Sudan is still a nation at infancy; as of the time of writing there is still an ongoing conflict between the North and South Sudan so, for Israel to conclude such a family deserve deportation goes beyond understanding.
In my neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York there are many Israeli residents, some are legal and many are illegal with three or more children who are American citizens despite the illegal status of their parents; I do not imagine a situation where the U.S. government would call for the repatriation of illegal Israelis just because the State of Israel is a prosperous, economically vibrant and stable nation. No doubt the day after such a bill is proposed, the U.S. Congress would convene to reject it and not only that, both the Republican and the Democratic parties would turn it into a political war.
Some Israeli citizens on both CNN and BBC have called for the Israeli government to do exactly as they called it, what the U.S. government did to prevent Mexicans from coming into the country; they have called for Israel to raise its border and one even went as far as asking Israeli border patrol agents to shoot down African migrants if they can’t be stopped. The fact is that U.S. border patrol agents do not target Mexicans purposely to shoot and kill, there have been few cases where migrants crossing the U.S. / Mexican border died but in such situations it is drug related and moreover, few American patrol agents have also lost their lives in the process of preventing drug trafficking and illegal migration. It seems Israel likes to emulate all that is American; American style democracy, American economic policies, its military might and so forth. However, when it comes to U.S. model for diversity and respect for human rights, Israel does not want any part in that.
There is no other way to describe the Israeli actions other than to say it is discriminatory and a gross violation of human rights based on the Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees to which the State of Israel is a party. After decades of war with its Arab neighbors, the mistreatment of African migrants has made many to begin to ask whether Israel has become a racist nation. There are about a million Russian living in Israel, more than 50% of such people are not Jewish but still, Israel has been able to assimilate them nonetheless, the “Jewish Blood” it wishes to preserve. For those unaware, there are Ethiopian Jews from Africa who have been denied their Jewish heritage just because of their race. The African migrants in Israel are not asking for a free handout, what they demand is the opportunity to work, the pursuit of happiness and the right to live with dignity.
It is high time Israel realized that the era of thinking the United States and Europe are the only ones with a private monopoly on resolving the problem of poverty is over. As long as poverty continues to exist, every prosperous nation including Israel must bear its share. This is not to say each nation does not have responsibilities to its citizens; however the world cannot blame poverty on innocent citizens who are victims due to a mismanaged economy and poor leadership by those in power. People will continue to migrate to richer nations for better opportunities and with Israel surrounded by its Arab enemies, it may be an opportunity to attract other nationals and make new friends.
The idea of a “Jewish Blood” may no longer be feasible; what Israel is demanding is not only impossible, it is impracticable and far from reality. In fact, it no longer conform to the order of things. There is no nation on earth that is 100% of one blood; we live in a world of diversity thanks to the civil rights movements and the laws against the prosecution of interracial marriage. Today there are Danish citizens of African or Asian origin; there are Germans of African origins, Americans of African origin, Spanish of African origin and so forth to mention a few. Therefore, Israel must begin to rethink its policies as some of its citizens who do not share the beliefs of those in Parliament, will go against unreasonable laws. Kudos to Israelis who do not share the racist rhetoric, your relentless efforts will not go unrecognized.
Israel should fulfill its commitments as an enthusiastic backer of the 1951 UN Treaty drafted to address the plight of World War II refugees, it has pledged not to expel asylum seekers to any nation where they would be in danger and therefore, must do its duty. It must join other nations in the war against poverty and as a nation surrounded by Arab enemies, it must work hard to make friends not more enemies. The world is now looking and unless something drastic is done to correct the migrant’ issues, the state of Israel will make more enemies around the world.
Dr. Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD] is an expert in general law, foreign relations and the United Nations; follow on Twitter @san0670