Even as it invokes the Holocaust at every turn, Israel is feeding the people who most need its protection to a brutal human smuggling industry. In doing so, it becomes an active player in the worst migration crisis since the Jewish people’s near-extinction.
Exactly one decade ago, liberal Israelis were boasting of their government’s treatment of the refugees who had recently begun entering the country, largely from Sudan. In the face of the genocide in Darfur, Jewish organizations all over the world had enlisted to move the international community to act. Israelis got on board, motivated by what Haaretz’s Bradley Burston called a “kinship of genocide.” In September 2007, after extensive hand-wringing, the Israeli government extended residency permits to roughly 500 refugees from Darfur.
In an ordinary Western country, this would have been unremarkable. In Israel, which has virtually no legal paths to residency for non-Jews who aren’t related to Jewish citizens, this was a sweeping show of humanitarianism.
The intervening years have seen a dramatic decline in the country’s treatment of the people who have arrived in search of shelter. There have been many low points along the way. But it seems things can always go lower, as reflected in this week’s news that Israel will be ordering asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan to leave the country or go to jail.
According to a Haaretz report, most asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan will soon be ordered to exit Israel within 90 days or be detained indefinitely in the Saharonim desert prison. Technically, this measure will only concern those whose applications for asylum were rejected or who failed to apply. However, the screening process in Israel is grossly deficient — with a recognition rate of less than 1 percent — and most of these rejected applicants would probably qualify for refugee status under international law and according to the standards of the rest of the developed world.
Presumably, Israel intends to relocate most of them to Rwanda and Uganda, with whom it’s struck deals to receive them. Rumor has it both countries are getting cash and weapons in exchange for the unwanted asylum seekers.
Refugee resettlement is not in...Read More