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A scorching desert jail for asylum seekers, with no way out

While Eritrean asylum seekers cannot be deported due to the risk they would face upon return, the new Prevention of Infiltration Law enables Israel to keep them in prison indefinitely. New arrivals, most having faced rape and torture en route to Israel, are presently being held in a prison in the desert, and nobody knows how long they’ll be kept there. A visit to Ketsiot prison.

By Yonatan Berman

Ketsiot prison near Israel-Egypt border (photo: Yonatan Berman)

Almost three years ago, I wrote about how much I hate the journey to Ketsiot prison; how frustrating it is there, even for the fleeting visitor who knows that at the end of the day he’ll be free and safe in Tel Aviv. I wrote about the despair of the asylum seekers, who are locked up for days on end, not knowing until when. Although I know the right thing to do is to visit again and again, as often as possible, lately I have been doing so less and less, for my own peace of mind. Because even though in the three years since I poured out my bitterness most of the Prison Service staff was replaced, the situation in this desert prison has only deteriorated.

But sometimes there is no choice, like yesterday, when Mesi, Yuval and I were forced to return to that awful place. The thermometer in Yuval’s car read 39 degrees Celsius as we were getting out. We waited in the central courtyard of the growing prison. To the north (or so at least it seemed to me), they had already added two-story buildings to hold additional asylum seekers. The detainees are currently imprisoned under the new Prevention of Infiltration Law, which allows for the administrative detention of immigrants without legal status for an unlimited period of time (or for a minimum period of three years).

In the two months since the authorities began to use this draconian new instrument for detention, not one person has been released. The Detention Review Tribunal, which has judicial oversight over the detention of asylum seekers under the Prevention of Infiltration Law, has become the law’s rubber stamp. In practice, there are no circumstances under which the new law enables the release of detainees, so all that is left for the judges to do is to see detainee after detainee, to hear his or her story, and to inform him or her that they have no option but to approve the detention order.

The heat in the courtyard is unbearable, and one can only imagine what it feels like in the prison wings, and particularly for the women and children, who are held in tents during this scorching summer. Most of the detainees are Eritrean. “They’re not refugees,” we’re told by the interior minister and the prime minister, who in the same breath admit that we can’t deport them, because deportation would place their lives at risk. The camp, therefore, is not meant for the “illegal immigrants” awaiting deportation, but intended to exhaust and discourage the asylum seekers who can’t be deported.

The camp exhausts and discourages us, too. Most of the Eritreans here endured many months of severe torture at the hands of the smugglers in Sinai, in order to extort money from their families. Most of the Eritrean women were brutally raped, repeatedly, by the smugglers in Sinai. The first asylum seeker we interview recounts being cuffed at the hands and feet, electrocuted, having cigarettes extinguished on his arms, being hung by his arms and burned with white hot iron rods. These descriptions are familiar, from conversations with other asylum seekers, from a Physicians for Human Rights – Israel report and from the Hotline for Migrant Workers’ report. Yet this firsthand account terrifies us. But when we get to the third interviewee who tells us the same horror story, I’m already whispering to Yuval, “Compassion fatigue.” Yuval nods. Our psychological defenses have kicked in.

The High Court of Justice recently recommended that the State set out guidelines addressing the rights of Eritreans, whom it is forbidden to deport. The State’s response, which finds its expression in Ketsiot prison, is: “They have no rights; eternal detention for all.” If once we could take comfort in the fact that the Eritreans we met in prison fell under the “temporary protection” policy, and would be released soon, today we have no words to comfort those we meet. All that is left for us to say to them is that we don’t know how long they will wait in this boiling hell, and that we know how hard it is for them to be there. (Although we don’t really know, and apparently never will know quite how hard.)

One can assume that in the interior and justice ministries, they will read these lines and smile with satisfaction, saying that this was their very intention – for people to know they won’t be released for years, and to send a message: “Don’t come.” Yet anyone with even the slightest experience and understanding of migration issues knows that’s not how it works – walls, prisons, starvation and degradation have never deterred immigrants, whether they’re refugees or economic migrants. These instruments are good for satisfying public opinion thirsty for a heavy hand, and for shaking off a sense of idleness, but they do not prevent migration. The Interior Ministry is already boasting about the drop in entries into Israel in the last month, but if you want to know the reason for this ebb, you had better turn your attention to what’s happening in the Sinai Peninsula and Libya. This ebb has nothing to do with Bibi and Yishai’s magic tricks.

Construction to expand Ketsiot (photo: Yonatan Berman)

Around the prison, a huge area is being prepared for construction of a new facility, which will be able to hold thousands more asylum seekers. Making the desert bloom, indeed – bloom that is entirely evil. When we leave after a depressing day, we photograph the construction going on around us for awhile and travel north, leaving the men and women we met behind, where they’ll be staying for quite a while longer.

Joseph Carens wrote, over two decades ago, that citizenship in the “West” today is comparable to feudal privileges – a hereditary status that improves one’s chances in life. For those not born with this status, it is almost impossible to acquire. Like hereditary feudal privileges, this is very difficult to justify.

When I return to my two-room apartment in Tel Aviv after the visit to Ketsiot, it really does feel like a palace.

 

Yonatan Berman is the director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at the Academic Center of Law and Business. This post originally appeared in Hebrew on the blog Laissez Passer, and was translated by Caroline Beck.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Jehudah Ben-Israel

      Asylum seekers or, rather illegal work migrants?

      If the people reaching Israel are asylum seekers, legally, the country that should house them is the one through which they arrived in Israel, Egypt in this case.

      But, of course, their goal is not to seek asylum but rather find work, and relatively lucrative employment, something that Egypt can’t provide, hence they try to reach Israel, illegally.
      And, any sovereign country, which Israel is one, has the full right to determine who does and who doesn’t enter its territory and move about it.
      Is there a country on earth that has abdicated this responsibility/right yet…??

      Reply to Comment
    2. sh

      Jehudah, people who can’t eke out enough to feed themselves and their families in their own countries have no option but to look for a livelihood elsewhere. Or do you expect them to accept starvation without a struggle? People who are persecuted in their own countries look for safe haven elsewhere. If you don’t know that from the annals of your own family, you probably know it from the story of that of your friends. Several contingents of what you call illegal work migrants have already been expelled by Israel, despite the makeup of its population, a considerable sector of which, over the centuries, played a starring role in the Wandering Jew saga. The author of this piece states clearly that these people are locked into Ktziot because Israel would be infringing international law if it expelled them. If Israel, of all countries, doesn’t see itself as having an obligation to be humane to the hungry and persecuted, that’s a reason to despair.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Jehudah Ben-Israel

      “SH”, Israel has absorbed millions of refugees throughout its existence, mostly Jews, but many, many non-Jews, be they Asians, Africans, etc. And, Israel continues to take in refugees.
      But, Israel can’t be the resolution of deeply rooted economic, social and political predicaments that have evolved in the continent of Africa for decades, or perhaps centuries.
      Note, Israel is a country the size of Wales in the UK, of Slovenia in continental Europe, of El Salvador in Latin America and smaller than New Jersey in North America. It is a country that is already over populated, with more than seven million people, and no natural resources of which to speak but for its people.
      The predicaments of Africa should be resolved in Africa. Israel is not the answer to those problems.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Yoram

      there is one point of agreement between the refugees-rights activists and the anti-african racists : one group of refugees stays out of the debate and out of this country – the refugees of this country, the palestinians. palestinian refugees, who where deported in 1948, will not be spoken for on “refugee day” (because that would be “polictical” and can be shut at the border when trying to access *there country* without any objection from isrealy liberals.
      even so-called leftist such as Dov Hanin would speak about isreal as a state that was established for refugees, denying the fact that it was established by creating 700,000 (not millions) refugees.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Kolumn9

      Yonatan, well, we are soon going to be able to test the basis for your argument. If the Eritreans stop coming because they were economic migrants to begin with then you will be proven wrong but you would also be out of a job. If the Eritreans continue to come despite not having any capability to make money in Israel you will be proven correct that they are indeed coming as refugees that are fleeing for their lives since in Ketziot that is all they will be assured. The fact that only 262 showed up in July doesn’t seem like a sufficient data set, but I am wondering whether you are willing to propose some set of metrics according to which we can judge the validity or falsity of the points that you have made? Or is this the kind of sentimental argument where it is something that you feel in your heart and so shouldn’t actually be scrutinized?
      .

      As for the nonsensical comparison of Western immigration laws to feudalism… The immigration laws which give preferance to the existing citizenry are based on the concepts of citizenship, private property and inheritance. I personally have absolutely no problem justifying them, but then again I must be one of those unusual people that believe in such outdated concepts like countries, borders, citizens and representative governance where the citizens actually get to determine policy. Silly me.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Jack

      Jehudah,
      Why not grant these refugees the right to stay then? They are refugees that have traveled from poverty, war and other troubled areas. Where are your humantiarianism?
      -
      Certianly this is not a good look with all the riots against blacks, in fact a diverity of people is a way to fight xenophobia and racism.

      Reply to Comment
    7. aristeides

      If they’d kept the Jews locked up in DP camps after WWII, we wouldn’t have the problem of Israel now. But that was considered inhumane. Then. When it was Jews.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Prometheus

      Jack,
      “Why not grant these refugees the right to stay then? They are refugees that have traveled from poverty, war and other troubled areas. Where are your humantiarianism?”
      .
      Before you ask us this question, find out why would the very same group of refugees be deported from Germany or any other “industrial world” (quoted because you don’t know what it means) countries.
      .
      “If they’d kept the Jews locked up in DP camps after WWII, we wouldn’t have the problem of Israel now. But that was considered inhumane. Then. When it was Jews.”
      .
      You are wrong again, Aristeides.
      After WWII Jews had no country of their own to go to, unlike Sudanese.
      Now, you are gonna claim that life in Israel is much better than in Sudan.
      Of course it is now. But it certainly was not back in 1948, so it’s up to Sudanese to build the country of their dream – just as Jews did.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Kanadi

      Kolumn9. First of all, your proposed experiment has a major flaw – for a controlled experiment to work, you can only adjust one factor. By building the prison AND a fence on the border, the slowing of influx could mean either that the abhorrent and inhumane treatment by Israel is discouraging people from coming or that the fence is stopping people from coming.

      One thing I do agree with is that if Israel has a large unfulfilled responsibility to actually hear the asylum claims of these people, then Egypt has a huge unfulfilled responsibility in the same way. There are in fact probably many times as many asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan in Egypt than in Israel, and there they are treated as badly or worse – in 2005 Egyptian security forces broke up a squat in front of the UNHCR office where Sudanese were demanding rights, killing dozens of people, including children. This is when people started really coming to Israel, fearing for their lives and safety.

      That doesn’t absolve Israel. What Israel offers Eritreans and Darfuris is GROUP PROTECTION, which in international refugee law is basically a temporary measure that is only granted when the success of a refugee claim is all but assumed based on the country of origin. This is when you get a large number of people from that place, and it will take time to process everyone, so in the mean time you give group protection from deportation. Israel has perverted this system by making it into a permanent status of perpetual limbo and not hearing any claim. So it won’t deport people and it won’t process people.

      To be completely honest, Israelis have one group of people to blame for the complete mess, the ridiculous amount spent on the prison and the fence, it is their own government which has no plan, no endgame, a lot of bluff and bluster that leads to nothing but empty promises of ridding the body politic from these “intruders” (who are in fact both refugees from their countries and work migrants who need to eat – these two things are not mutually exclusive).

      But in Israel just as in Egypt and the rest of the Arab, and, less so, European world, the barrier to accepting this people who truly are refugees is xenophobia and racism, and a fear of “contamination”. And it ain’t going away.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Jack

      Prometheus,
      You mean the refugees in Israel have been in Germany before they went to Israel?
      Germany is by the way one of the industrialized states that approve the most asylum seekers.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Jehudah Ben-Israel

      “Why not grant refugees the right to stay” asks the poster.
      Reality is: Israel certainly grants real refugees the right to stay in the country, and, indeed, Israel has been accepting millions of refugees over the decades and absorbed them, despite its tiny size and its lack of natural resources.
      Yet, Israel is neither obligated morally or legally to grant the right to stay to people whose only reason for reaching Israel and entering its territory illegally is to seek employment.
      Tiny Israel is not in a position of resolving the age old economic, social and political predicaments of the whole continent of Africa. Indeed, those eager to help people should ask themselves, why is it that Muslims from Africa try to reach Israel yet, rich Muslim Arab countries closer to them don’t assist them, e.g. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Barhrain…??

      Reply to Comment
    12. Prometheus

      “You mean the refugees in Israel have been in Germany before they went to Israel?”
      .
      No. I mean what I asked. Not more, not less.
      .
      “Germany is by the way one of the industrialized states that approve the most asylum seekers.”
      .
      Nonsense.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Kolumn9

      Kanadi, agreed, it is not a perfect experiment, though to be fair there are many more variables that we can’t control. Yet the author of the article makes the explicit argument that neither the prison or the wall [or starvation/deprivation] will dissuade the migrants. This is very much a testable position that I would be willing to give odds to bet against if we could agree on metrics.
      .

      The concepts of asylum and refugee status when applied to the citizens of permanently failed and poverty-stricken states are in practice a permanent legal status granted according to standards determined by international bodies at the expense of sovereign states and their practical control of their borders and immigration policies. In this specific case where there is an inexhaustible reservoir of future migration flooding into a very small and resource constrained state, such a policy turns into an expectation that the state should be willing to sacrifice its most core building blocks on the altar of an entirely unreasonable reading of humanitarian law. This is something that just isn’t going to happen regardless of how much it soils your liberal sensibilities.
      .

      To be completely honest, there is no reason to blame anyone. There is a large group of people that want to enter the country illegally. There is a government that is going to prevent them and there is a citizenry that expects nothing less. The plan and the end-game are pretty obvious even if they are not explicitly announced. Illegal migration will be cut off with a combination of stronger border control and an elimination of any incentives migrants have of coming to Israel. Those illegal migrants that are in Israel will gradually be prevented from working and sending money back to their home countries via stronger punishments for those that make either of these things possible. Additional measures can then be taken to make Israel an unattractive place for illegal migrants to continue residing.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Jack

      Jehudah,
      How many of the newly moved in sudanese have been allowed to stay? How many refugees did Israel accept? How many from Afghanistan?
      Why would they move to those states you mentioned when they obviously think they could get a better life in Israel?

      Reply to Comment
    15. Jack

      Prometheus,
      Then you should rephrase your question because you just said that: “the very same group of refugees be deported from Germany”.
      -
      You also should stop using nonsenical one-liners like “not true”, “Nonsense” etc, obviously you have already been banned from one channel here. Just an advice.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Daniel N

      ‘Jehudah’ comes close to defining sovereignty correctly when he defines it that power which is able to determine who is allowed to cross its borders. Yet he falls short in his definition: it is not only a matter of allowing someone the ‘right’ to cross the border, but rather it is the power to *hold* someone on its border. This is a double power, to keep someone outside of the sovereign’s law by means of its law; an exclusion from law that is maintained through an utmost inclusion.
      .
      Refugees, as the philosophers Hannah Arendt and today Giorgio Agamben in particular have noted, are the ultimate witnesses to modern sovereignty. The Eritreans, not the Jewish-Israeli citizens, bear witness to Israeli sovereignty in all its glory. A camp like Ketsiot is the pure manifestation of the sovereign power: banning refugees from entry into the state whilst holding them within its totalising power, its prison. The same model, philosophically speaking *and not historically*, is to be found not only in the refugee camps that have today been forged all over the West, not only in Guantanamo Bay, but originally in Dachau and Auschwitz. *This is not to make a historical comparison*. Of course they are historically different. ‘Jehudah’ raised sovereignty as a concept so it is on that level that I deal with it. Conceptually, the power of sovereignty to exclude a whole population from law by means of holding them in a camp was first developed by the Nazi.
      .
      The argument that Israel’s economy should be raised above all other values is extremely pernicious, and one that again finds precedent in the Holocaust. Though German-Jews were stripped from their German citizenship, a sovereign-exclusion that the Nazi’s would replicate wherever they extended their sovereignty, only a relatively minuscule amount of Jews were absorbed as refugee citizens in other countries. Why? It’s the economy, stupid—so cried most countries, so cries ‘Jehudah’ et al.
      .
      No. Economy should *not* rule over every aspect of life. Practical considerations like economy should not override life itself. Like all camps of its type, Ketsiot should be torn down.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Jehudah Ben-Israel

      “Refugees” is a term defined in international law. And, illegal work migrants are not part of that definition.
      Furthermore, “refugees”, by definition, cease being “refugees” once they crossed on political entity, i.e. state, in order to reach a second one.
      The people in question have crossed Egypt, where they didn’t seek out a status of refugee, thus upon reaching Israel they are no longer refugees, even if they, by definition, left their country of origin as such.
      The only predicament is the refusal of their country of origin to admit them back home, in which case, they find themselves in limbo, not being refugees, thus not entitled to settle in Israel, yet being refused by their own home country reentry.
      This should be resolved by the the world community and not by tiny Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Prometheus

      Jack,
      It’s a typo.
      “the very same group of refugees *would* be deported from Germany”
      Like are being deported Afghanis, Iraqis and numerous others who’ve been able to make it to Germany.Just google “Abschiebung von Afghanen”
      .
      I think that one or two words are more than enough to point out obvious lie or plain nonsense.

      Reply to Comment
    19. Jack

      Prometheus,
      Like I said Germany is one the countries that hold most refugees and grant permits for a great deal of them, compared to Israel which thinks that only one 1% of the refugees coming to Israel are refugees that are applicable for permission to stay.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Prometheus

      What’s interesting is that hardly there is anyone who openly bashes Arabs for their racism and hatred towards black refugees – in Egypt or even Israel.
      .
      I suppose no-one outside Israel heard about the banishment of Sudanese from Kfar Manda
      .
      “15 people were wounded in clashes between refugees from North Sudan and inhabitants of Kfar Manda. 150 policemen were called in to separate the parties and to evacuate refugees to other location since their deportation is not possible”
      http://www.mako.co.il/news-israel/local/Article-88ec763f4fbe731018.htm
      .
      It’s worth knowing that Arabs in Kfar Manda are allowed to do what Jews in Tel Aviv are allowed not.

      Reply to Comment
    21. Prometheus

      “Like I said Germany is one the countries that hold most refugees and grant permits for a great deal of them”
      .
      Germany only allows refugees to stay as long as they could not be deported by the international law.

      Reply to Comment
    22. Prometheus

      Daniel,
      You are wrong at pretty much every point you have made.
      I’ll point out only the most obvious ones.
      1 – “originally in Dachau and Auschwitz…Conceptually, the power of sovereignty to exclude a whole population from law by means of holding them in a camp was first developed by the Nazi.”.
      .
      No. It begun a bit earlier.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internment
      2 – “The same model, philosophically speaking *and not historically*”
      Philosophically it is rather dishonest to compare an *extermination* camp – such as Auschwitz with a containment facility such as Guantanamo Bay. I hope that differences are obvious enough.
      .
      3 – “Practical considerations like economy should not override life itself. Like all camps of its type, Ketsiot should be torn down.”
      .
      So basically you are suggesting that everyone should be allowed to cross all and any borders freely and move to live in any country upon ones desire.
      Well, I suppose you know what word “utopia” means.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Jack

      Prometheus,
      I guess english isnt your first languange but you should try reading the comments from people responding to you here, and if you dont understand just ask. So to summarize, there is then a difference between Germany and Israel, they recognize the refugee status under international law and let alot of them stay, Israel on the other hand does in principle recognize them as legit refugees and mass deport them.

      Reply to Comment
    24. Prometheus

      Good guess. English is not my first and not even third language.
      .
      “They (Germany) recognize the refugee status under international law and let alot of them stay”
      .
      Stay for how long?
      .
      “Israel on the other hand does in principle recognize them as legit refugees and mass deport them.”
      .
      Israel mass deports refugees who have a legitimate right for shelter? And all “human rights” organisations are letting it happen silently? I suggest you run the reality uplink test.

      Reply to Comment
    25. Jack

      Prometheus,
      Good, well you should ask then to avoid missunderstadings.
      How long they will stay of course depends on the bureaucracy, for example how many refugees there are currently waiting to get their file approved or not inside the country, etc.
      -
      Yes thats the troublesome, since Israel doesnt recognize them to be legit refugees under international law, they basically say they could deport them all.

      Reply to Comment
    26. sh

      “Note, Israel is a country the size of Wales in the UK, of Slovenia in continental Europe, of El Salvador in Latin America and smaller than New Jersey in North America. ”
      No, you note please, Jehudah. Israel HAS NO SIZE. That is one of many sleights of hand that Israel practices in order to cover its aspirations and the activities it engages in to fulfil them. And its power and reach have no relation to the various sizes it has arrogated for itself since it refashioned the territory the international bodies awarded us in elastic. All the countries plus the suburb you mention have officially defined and sanctioned borders.
      .
      @K9 – “The immigration laws which give preferance to the existing citizenry are based on the concepts of citizenship, private property and inheritance. I personally have absolutely no problem justifying them, but then again I must be one of those unusual people that believe in such outdated concepts like countries, borders, citizens and representative governance where the citizens actually get to determine policy. Silly me.”

      Silly you. Unless your “concepts of citizenship” give preference to only citizens of a certain faith, in which case those concepts are more honestly defined as “discrimination” (to put it kindly), your criteria would give Palestinians preference. Bottom line is we have been determined to have our cake and eat it too, flying in the face of the proverb that says you can’t. But, to mix metaphors a bit, at some point the chickens will come home to roost.

      Reply to Comment
    27. Prometheus

      Jack,
      “How long they will stay of course depends on the bureaucracy, for example how many refugees there are currently waiting to get their file approved or not inside the country, etc.”
      .
      For how long they will stay if there is no bureaucratic delays?
      .
      “since Israel doesnt recognize them to be legit refugees under international law, they basically say they could deport them all.”
      .
      Wrong again.
      International law does not recognize them as refugees which is why Israel is allowed to deport them.
      .
      Btw, you are probably not aware that the majority of refugees in Israel are from Eritrea and no-one is deporting them.
      .
      SH,
      ” Israel HAS NO SIZE.”
      By your logic China have no size as well.
      But I think that you’ll have hard time proving that to the Chinese.
      .
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_states_with_limited_recognition

      Reply to Comment
    28. Jack

      Prometheus,
      There is always bureaucraticism involved in these matters, simply because their work is dependent, as I said, on how many refugees that have applied.
      -
      “International law does not recognize them as refugees which is why Israel is allowed to deport them.”
      -
      Yes according to Israel view of international law, there is no occupation, annexation etc. This have no connection to reality. In fact while 50%-85% of those refugees are granted the same rights outside of Israel, only 1% of them have the same right in Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    29. JG

      I’m stunned by the fine irony that rightwing jew Prometheus praising the deportation policy of Germany, the unbeaten masters in this job. As long as they deport others than jews he obviously is fine with it.

      Reply to Comment
    30. Prometheus

      Jack,
      You still have not answered one simple question – for how long the refugees are allowed to stay in Germany?
      .
      Occupation and annexation is irrelevant.
      .
      50%-85% of what refugees from what countries?

      Reply to Comment
    31. AYLA

      Yedhuda–Although, like SH, I am wholly sympathetic to the plight of people who cannot feed their children, it is actually entirely untrue that Eritrean asylum seekers are here for economic reasons. They ate fine in Eritrea, when they weren’t being tortured by their government. They left for their basic freedom and safety, and risked their lives to do so. The problem in Israel is that there is no refugee policy for non-jews, which is simply undemocratic. If there were policy, then asylum seekers could go through a process in which it would be determined whether or not they were refugees, and then we could take it from there and ideally enlist the support of other countries. As it stands, you’ll just have to trust that it is a known fact that Eritrea suffers so many violations of human rights that it is against international law to send citizens back.

      Reply to Comment
    32. Kolumn9

      Sh, right, because only white European Jews have Israeli citizenship, but I am glad that you have been forced to reach to the shallow depths of liberal logic to brandish the cry of discrimination/racism. Yes, there is outright and blatant discrimination against non-citizens in Israel. You know what this is called? Common sense according to every definition of sovereignty and citizenship. I am also confused by the metaphors. Are the Eritreans or the Palestinians cakes or chickens, who is eating who and who is coming home to roost?
      .

      Ayla, a person fleeing from a dictatorship or a failed state does not have the right to refugee status unless they were in a warzone or they personally were at a heightened risk of persecution or bodily harm than other citizens due to either their ethnic/religious group or their political affiliation. Otherwise the definition is wide enough to apply to more than 2 billion people on the planet starting from every single citizen of China. That the Eritreans risked their life in transit and this should somehow be a factor in their refugee status makes even more of a mockery of the definition you are trying to peddle. This is before even taking into account the practicalities of a situation where 1% of the population of a country has illegally migrated into another while passing through two states along the way. Also, don’t bet your shirt on Israel not sending Eritreans back by the planeload in the not too remote future.

      Reply to Comment
    33. Alan

      @aristeides: “If they’d kept the Jews locked up in DP camps after WWII, we wouldn’t have the problem of Israel now. But that was considered inhumane. Then. When it was Jews.”

      Your anti-Semitic spots are showing.

      Reply to Comment
    34. sh

      “By your logic China have no size as well.”
      P, you surely noticed that the PRoC’s beef is that it does not have dominion over Taiwan whereas Israel not only has dominion over Palestine and bits of Lebanon and Syria, but if the Bible’s the blueprint, bits of Iraq might be on the menu as well. There’s no knowing how far that elastic is still supposed to stretch.

      Reply to Comment
    35. aristeides

      Stuff it, Alan.

      .
      When Jews are the refugees, nothing will do but opening up the world’s borders for them.

      .
      When someone else is the refugee, suddenly it’s “they threaten the Jewish nature of the state.”

      .
      Why doesn’t it sound the same as “Switzerland is a small country, there are few natural resources, we don’t have room for anyone but the Swiss?”

      Reply to Comment
    36. Prometheus

      SH,
      “P, you surely noticed that the PRoC’s beef is that it does not have dominion over Taiwan whereas Israel not only has dominion over Palestine and bits of Lebanon and Syria, but if the Bible’s the blueprint, bits of Iraq might be on the menu as well. There’s no knowing how far that elastic is still supposed to stretch.”
      .
      You are just making things up. China has it’s dominion over Tibet – how conveniently have you forgotten it?
      Also, Israel have no dominion over “Palestine” because there is no, and never was, such entity.

      Reply to Comment
    37. sh

      “Also, Israel have no dominion over “Palestine” because there is no, and never was, such entity.”
      Oh? You’d better tell Zionist historians that. They genuinely think the entity the aliyot came to was called Palestine.
      http://ajzenberg.com/Book/185.htm
      Balfour thought there was a place called Palestine too.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balfour_Declaration
      And so did the UN. Or are we in Lewis Carroll’s imaginary world where you can vote to partition something that never existed in the first place?
      And what about the silly Palestine Post, which thinks that only after Israel’s independence did it become the Jerusalem Post? Or all those misguided postage stamps?http://www.flickr.com/photos/karenhorton/3261673326/

      Reply to Comment
    38. sh

      “Sh, right, because only white European Jews have Israeli citizenship, but I am glad that you have been forced to reach to the shallow depths of liberal logic to brandish the cry of discrimination/racism.”
      I suppose you must have missed:
      “Unless your “concepts of citizenship” give preference to only citizens of a certain faith, in which case those concepts are more honestly defined as “discrimination…””
      See that? A certain *faith*? Must say you didn’t sound like the kind of person to whom one would have to belabour that.
      It was in response to your:
      “but then again I must be one of those unusual people that believe in such outdated concepts like countries, borders, citizens and representative governance where the citizens actually get to determine policy. Silly me”
      .
      Those who lived here when the first waves of aliyot arrived probably also hoped that one day, as citizens of the area they’d been living in for so long, they’d get to help determine policy – but they were “persuaded” to flee and evidence of their long sojourn here was progressively erased, for one reason: they were not Jewish.
      Shallow it might be (liberal I doubt) but unfortunately true nevertheless.

      Reply to Comment
    39. Prometheus

      SH,
      You see, there is a HUGE difference between ENTITY and TOPONYM
      .
      From wikipedia “Palestine (Arabic: فلسطين‎ Filasṭīn, Falasṭīn, Filisṭīn; Greek: Παλαιστίνη, Palaistinē; Latin: Palaestina; Hebrew: פלשתינה Palestina) is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands.”
      .
      All the examples you’ve brought indeed prove that there is a geographical location which is called Palestine by some people – I only don’t know why would you try and prove something THAT obvious.

      Reply to Comment
    40. Alan

      @aristeides: “When Jews are the refugees, nothing will do but opening up the world’s borders for them.”

      You’re right. All those Jewish DPs should have just returned to Poland.

      Reply to Comment
    41. AYLA

      Kolumn9–Yes, I was refuting the Israeli-propaganda-perpetuated idea that Eritreans are here for economic reasons, but it is true that not all people from Eritrea automatically qualify for refugee status (though it is understood that they are all asylum seekers). Many, however, would. I have an idea, though: how about Israel acts like an actual democracy and puts a refugee policy into place, and then it won’t be up to you and me to determine who qualifies?

      Reply to Comment
    42. Prometheus

      Thank you for a good laugh, SH.
      It’s good that you have nothing substantial to add.

      Reply to Comment
    43. Kolumn9

      Sh, I don’t have any idea what your argument is here. Citizenship is citizenship and most certainly not only Jews have it in Israel. Both formally and informally non-Jewish citizens are involved in every single sphere of public life. As for the discrimination that does exist, it makes no difference for the argument that the citizens and the state determine the immigration policy. Best as I can tell based on what happened in Kfar Manda the Arabs citizens of Israel are in absolutely no hurry to grant asylum to the Eritreans and Sudanese.
      .

      Those Arabs that stayed here and didn’t run away during the war do have citizenship and do determine policy. There are currently 18 non-Jewish members of the Knesset, including those representing the full spectrum of major Israeli parties, and also parties that choose to publicly dissociate themselves from the affairs of state while fully participating in the various committees of the Knesset. Had the Arabs accepted partition and not started a war against the birth of the Jewish state I am presuming they would have had even more power. In any case, I am presuming that your counterargument will be that their rejection of the Jewish immigrants and the resistance to the state they built was legitimate and thus even based on your logic it seems that the legitimacy of determining the immigration policy is something that should be granted to the current citizenry. Though, I am certain that you will find some shallow liberal device for avoiding such a conclusion when the alternative is to accept that your logic supports the actions of the Israeli government.
      .

      Ayla, there is absolutely nothing under any definition of democracy that requires the state to institute a refugee policy. You can certainly argue that Israel should institute a refugee policy like many other states (democratic and non-democratic), but you are going to have to dig a little deeper than presuming that such an eventuality must flow naturally from Israel being a democracy. It just doesn’t. There is nothing inherent in a democracy that would force it to accept refugees or to have a refugee policy. On a practical level there is simply no possible refugee policy that can deal with this issue. It is not Israel’s duty to provide permanent asylum for every Eritrean, Sudanese and Ethiopian that gets to the country, but that is precisely the practical impact of the policies demanded by left-wing NGOs in Israel. It is impossible to deport most of them once they get to the country, so the whole idea that granting asylum is a temporary measure is a bold-faced lie. So, in practice the call to grant asylum, bring over their families, allow employment and allow the transfer of funds back to their home countries, is an absolutely certain recipe for inviting millions of migrants to make their way up to Israel with absolutely no recourse for the citizenry and state to determine the immigration policy. The only practical means of dealing with this is to take all efforts to prevent them from coming in and to take all efforts to make Israel an extremely undesirable place for them to go. Eli Yishai is not a nice man, but in this case the nice people are not proposing any reasonable ideas.

      Reply to Comment
    44. sh

      Eli Yishai’s latest “reasonable idea” (viz. K9):

      ‘Interior minister tells Ynet ‘illegal migrant threat just as severe as Iranian nuke threat’; says will lock infiltrators up to ‘make their lives miserable’
      http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4269540,00.html

      What he and his supporters here on these comment threads will only grasp too late in their missionary zeal is that implementing laws against others they would scream about if they were applied to themselves is not Jewish, it’s racist.

      Reply to Comment
    45. Prometheus

      “it’s racist.”
      Not more racist than the rape of Israeli women by Eritreans.
      .
      (some of) them are not able to conduct properly – remove them all.
      I bet you haven’t heard the stories about Morrocans in Bruxelles.

      Reply to Comment
    46. Jack

      SH,
      Interestingly also is that zionist groups refused to respect UK’s ban on immigration during 1930-40s and kept flooding Palestine with immigrants. So there is another double standard here too. Although we are talking about fundamentlists..

      Reply to Comment
    47. Kolumn9

      Sh, I repeat. The alternative position being pushed by the editorials here is to ignore the borders and pretend that the influx of migrants from a nearly infinite reserve will decrease if you treat them well enough while ignoring the costs, short-term and long-term, financial and societal, that such a policy entails. This position is unsustainable, illogical, short-sighted and impractical.
      .

      Having run out of logical arguments you once again reach for the liberal crutch of closing your ears while screaming racism at your opponents.

      Reply to Comment
    48. Prometheus

      Jack,
      You are wrong again – as usual.
      Wrong not only historically but also morally.
      “In 1939, as a consequence of the MacDonald White Paper, the British reduced the number of immigrants allowed into Palestine. World War II and the Holocaust started shortly thereafter and once the 15,000 annual quota was exceeded, Jews fleeing Nazi persecution were placed in detention camps or deported to places such as Mauritius.[25]
      Starting in 1939, a clandestine immigration effort known as Aliya Bet was spearheaded by an organisation known as Mossad Le’aliyah Bet. Tens of thousands of European Jews were rescued from the Nazis by shipping them to Palestine in boats. Many of these boats were intercepted. The last immigrant boat to try to enter Palestine during the war was the Struma, torpedoed in the Black Sea by a Soviet submarine in February 1942. The boat sank with the loss of nearly 800 lives. Illegal immigration resumed after World War II.
      Following the war, 250,000 Jewish refugees were stranded in displaced persons (DP) camps in Europe. Despite the pressure of world opinion, in particular the repeated requests of US President Harry S. Truman and the recommendations of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry that 100,000 Jews be immediately granted entry to Palestine, the British maintained the ban on immigration.”
      Obviously you’d prefer that no Jews were able to escape Nazis.
      .
      Again and again you rather successfully prove that you hate Jews. Plain and simple.

      Reply to Comment
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