“a cancer” on Israeli society... “a plague"
June 24, 2013 8:53 AM   Subscribe

Unpromised Land: Eritrean Refugees in Israel (Readibility Link)
"60,000 African migrants sought refuge in Israel. Many found hostility, resentment and a one-way ticket to prison. They are Israel's new unwanted."

Previously on Metafilter: "Politicians say these things in the morning, and by the afternoon we get bomb threats made to our office." - Nic Schlagman, African Refugee Development Center
posted by andoatnp (15 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
only 157 asylum seekers of any kind have been recognized as refugees in the entire history of the nation

Ugh. By comparison, Ecuador, which has a population about twice Israel's size but a per capita GDP about 1/7th Israel's, has recognized over 55,000 asylum seekers. 157 is pathetic.

The religious extremists in Israel are also radical xenophobes. Recall, these are the same folks who didn't want fellow Jews from Ethiopia joining the ranks of Israeli society. The claim was because the Ethiopians weren't the right kinds of Jews, but my impression was that the real problem was that the Ethiopian Jews were, duh, black. I can only imagine how badly they're reacting to a population of African migrants who are, gasp, mostly Muslims. I can also only imagine how they're able to overlook the hugely important and mandatory hospitality that Judaism obligates us to extend to strangers, and most especially impoverished strangers, who live among us.
posted by 1adam12 at 9:16 AM on June 24, 2013 [10 favorites]

I'm not sure who you are quoting, but it is highly disturbing to hear biological metaphors pf contagion used to describe a minority in Israel. You'd think people would know better.
posted by thelonius at 9:20 AM on June 24, 2013

I'm not sure who you are quoting,

Are you referring to the title of the post? It's from the article, and the comments in quotation marks were made by two members of the Israeli Parliament (the Knesset).
posted by andoatnp at 9:23 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

I was intrigued by the reference to Bedouin kidnappers. Here's an article on the practice (warning: pretty gruesome descriptions of torture.) Apparently they also kidnap tourists, albeit in somewhat different circumstances.
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:28 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are Ethiopian Jews serving in IDF. Yes. There is in that nation as in all nations, class and color biases, as well as relgiious vs secular issues. And while I am in part "soft on Israel," nonetheless, how can a small nation dedicated to providing a home for Jews in light of recent history provide home for refugees world wide.
E.O. Wilson over ten years ago, in an afterward to his book CONSILIENCE stated that the two biggest issues the world would soon confront would be
1. drinkable water shortages
2. massive migrations of people trying to get to places we they could live and support family.
posted by Postroad at 9:41 AM on June 24, 2013

Yes the post title . I want to make it clear that I did not take these to be your words.
posted by thelonius at 10:23 AM on June 24, 2013

The appalling violence in Egypt appears to be the main problem. The Israeli security wall has pretty much ended transit through Egypt, so presumably the migrants will stop entering Egypt and suffering terrible violence from the Egyptians in the Sinai. So, the worst of the problem is over, if not in a happy way. Hmmm.
posted by alasdair at 10:32 AM on June 24, 2013

How can I find out how many asylum seekers a country has accepted? Is there a list somewhere?
posted by zoo at 10:40 AM on June 24, 2013

Here, then, from a left of center Israeli perspective better sums up what is going on both in Israel and in the region.
posted by Postroad at 11:49 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

how can a small nation dedicated to providing a home for Jews in light of recent history provide home for refugees world wide.

Can you give us a ballpark figure of how far past that history Israel needs to be before it can consider helping refugees? 90 years? 100? 150?
posted by Jimbob at 2:24 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

"In Israel, only 157 asylum seekers of any kind have been recognized as refugees in the entire history of the nation..."

This is either false or incredibly misleading. To start with, one of Israel's chief raisons d'être is to be a refuge for Jews and most Israelis are either refugees or recent descendants of them. There are basically no Jews left in the Middle East other than Israel; they all became refugees. So did most of the remaining Jews in Europe (although many found shelter outside Israel). Then there are the refugees from the former Soviet Union, and the ones from Ethiopia. These people do not cease being refugees just because they're Jews. Apart from these groups, Israel has taken in large groups of refugees from other countries: the ones I can think of Vietnam, Bosnia, and Lebanon but there may be others. And I'm sure there are many individuals.

I have no idea how the author could have missed these blindingly-obvious facts. I suppose that the article may be playing a game with definitions: perhaps the figure of 157 refers to people specifically from Eritrea and Somalia and specifically ones who were given asylum "as refugees" (which has a specific and technical meaning) as opposed to, e.g., being accepted as a regular migrant. That wouldn't make it any less misleading.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:46 PM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'm with Joe here; Israel may be unique in terms of being an ethnic/religious refuge, but within that context they have offered access to citizenship and other benefits far beyond what most political refugees can easily obtain. I'm also not certain that offering asylum is a baseline moral responsibility which any state is required to undertake.
posted by dhartung at 5:26 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

My suspicion is that non-Jews are excluded from that number, since they arrive under the Law of Return rather than through general-purpose asylum or refugee procedures.
posted by 1adam12 at 5:48 PM on June 24, 2013

Dazzling Miss Israel Brings Message of Jewish Diversity to America
Trailblazing Ethiopian-Born Beauty Proud of Africa and Israel
posted by Postroad at 5:25 AM on June 25, 2013

Yes, there is something either wrong with the number, the definition of "Asylum seekers" at work here, or sentence construction [perhaps "of any kind refers to Eritreans and Sudanese who are seeking different kinds of asylum?].
This article notes that Israel accepted "approximately 350 Vietnamese refugees – or “boat people” as they came to be known – who were taken in by Israel between 1977 and 1979."
posted by atomicstone at 1:31 PM on June 25, 2013

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