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Israel's "war on work infiltrators"

“Infiltrators” is the government and media’s name for the African refugees crossing the Egyptian border into Israel. “Survivors” is more accurate, but no matter; we’re going to war. 


“How will the program for the war on work infiltrators be funded?” read the subhead in today’s Yediot Aharonot story. “The war on work infiltrators is being stepped up…” the opening sentence began.

The war on work infiltrators. This is what “the newspaper of the nation” calls the government’s program to deter refugees, mainly from Eritrea and Sudan, from crossing the Egyptian border into Israel. (In Yediot’s English-language website, ynet, they’re referred to as “illegal refugees.” Nice.) At the bottom of the story, there’s a photo of a woman with a little boy, and it’s captioned, “Female infiltrator and her son on the Egyptian border.”

Infiltrators. When Israelis hear the word “infiltrators,” they think “terrorists,” which, of course, is the point of branding them as infiltrators. And what do you do with infiltrators, with terrorists? You make war on them. (The government doesn’t use the term “war,” but it routinely speaks of the Africans as an “existential threat,” so making war on them is only logical.)

In all this fever over infiltrators and existential threats and war, one fact gets overlooked: During the six years that about 40,000 refugees crossed the Sinai and entered Israel, the number of them who’ve been apprehended on suspicion of being terrorists, of being involved in politically-motivated crimes of any sort, is zero.

The official line on these people is that they’re not escaping persecution, they just want to earn Israeli wages. The truth is that they’re here for both reasons. Even putting aside economics, life was not good under the dictators and militias of Sudan and Eritrea. And the trek across the Sinai left a lot of their family members and other fellow sojourners dead at the hands of Egyptian border guards, or the torturing, raping, robbing, burning Sinai Bedouin “guides” whom the refugees pay to take them across the desert..

Now the government is going to complete the border fence, build a detention center or two and crack down on the refugees’ employers. On the one hand this is chilling, on the other hand I agree that Israel has to do something to deter the refugees, otherwise there’s no limit how many poor Africans will try to get here, and Israel is much too small to be a magnet for Africa.

These people, however, aren’t infiltrators, not terrorists, not the enemy, and we should not make war on them. The lives they left behind were hell; they had to be for them to pay those Bedouin predators to take them through the Sinai past those lethal Egyptian guards. Interior Minister Eli Yishai vowed that “every one of these work infiltrators will be returned home.” That’s an improvement, I guess, from when he warned that they would spread AIDS and hepatitis, which turned out to be exactly as true as the warning that they were being recruited in Sinai by al-Qaeda.

We’re going to war against the work infiltrators, they’re an existential threat. The brutalized, the raped, the grieving, the traumatized – our mortal enemy.  May God grant us victory.

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    1. sh

      It’s demography again. That’s what makes political refugees infiltrators. By that definition my Dad was an infiltrator.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Philos

      SH, don’t try to make any connection to the 30s. I’ve tried explaining the moral imperative of a nation composed of refugees (whose many brethren would have not been annihilated had Britain, Spain and America allowed Jewish refugees into their land) in not turning away Sudanese and Eritreans but all I’ve got from family and friends alike is, “DON’T COMPARE THIS TO THE HOLOCAUST! THAT WAS THE SINGULAR WORST THING EVER EVER! EVER!” So….. go figure, you live and don’t learn

      Reply to Comment
    3. “The war on work infiltrators is being stepped up…”

      ‘War’ must be becoming a natural, almost instinctive reaction to any threat that the current Israeli administration cares to perceive as such. Perhaps some Israelis have become so accustomed to being on a war footing for so long that no other means of combating a situation like this can even occur to them. While it is true that uncontrolled immigration can cause problems, these are not helped by the siege mentality that more than half a century of conflict has undoubtedly created within certain minds.

      And those refugees/infiltrators can hardly be making that sort of journey for their own amusement. Exchanging one war-torn environment for another of marginally lesser danger merely reveals the all too desperate plight of these would-be migrants.
      It seems that, so long as conditions favourable to war remain in place between communities and nations, this type of exodus will also be found, troubling the conscience of the world and storing up more problems for the future.

      Of course, if there were only some way to eliminate war itself, then matters might very well take a turn for the better. Certainly a world freed from the scourge of war and its many associated evils could afford to bring much more effort to bear on other pressing items of the moment.

      But how to achieve such a purpose? Can it be done? That is the question.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Mitchell Cohen

      While the use of the word “war” is appalling and the situation of these people is heartbreaking, I ask, what is the solution? Do we open up our borders to anybody who wants to come and accept an unlimited amount of refugees from everywhere in the world? Even Mya (on one of her threads) acknowledged that Israel has a right to secure her borders? So, what do we do?

      Reply to Comment
    5. Yes, Demography and not Demagogy” When Israelis hear the word “infiltrators,” they think “terrorists” .. ,As an Israeli who lived in Paris I dont want to ignore the problem and then send French airplanes full with forced refugees back to their countries..
      Your title is terrible becuse later you write “on the other hand I agree that Israel has to do something to deter the refugees, otherwise there’s no limit how many poor Africans will try to get here, and Israel is much too small to be a magnet for Africa” well what shell Israel doto do ? Well what to do? it’s so easy to criticize..

      And yes .some of them are criminals : http://www.haaretz.co.il/news/education/1.1181318 sorry for ruining your ” crimes of any sort, is zero.”

      Reply to Comment
    6. sh

      @Philos – I’m not trying to make a connection, I am making a connection. And I suggest you do a bit of homework on Britain and whether it accepted refugees from the Nazis or not. Now look at Israel, the detention centres and the wall being built to keep the desperate out. The reason is not because we are evil, it’s because we are demographic paranoiacs.

      Reply to Comment
    7. jJohn Yorke

      @ Mitchell Cohen,

      So, what do we do indeed!

      Perhaps there is another way to go with this.

      The situation faced by these unfortunates is a little unusual. They are, in effect, trying to break into a prison, a prison unwittingly constructed by inmates who have already chosen to make it their own residence.
      The entrances are guarded, the sentries posted and every effort has been made to keep the defences manned and ready to repel all boarders. But, for those within, it is still a prison masquerading as a fortress, one that must grow more oppressive as the days and years progress.

      The cost of providing for such a facility is extremely high. Vast sums of money are constantly being poured into its maintenance; lives and hopes are continually being sacrificed for its well-being, its
      upkeep devours most of what is in the public coffers. For reasons best known to those inside, it is felt that it cannot survive for long without these measures.

      But what if it could? What if there were suddenly no need for the huge expenditures of time, money and human tragedy that have always been demanded by so costly a venture?
      Under such radically changed conditions, there would be room and opportunity to develop a society, a whole region that could accommodate whosoever might wish to join with the ranks of those within it.

      Our weary travellers from far off lands might then find a better welcome than the one that now awaits them.

      And the key to such good fortune is the same one that has kept the prison gates closed and shut these many long years. And the only thing that will have changed is the realisation that every key has a dual function; not only can they lock you in, they can also set you free.

      A key is made to turn both ways. There must come a point when we will all discover this.
      Let’s hope it’s not too late by then.


      Reply to Comment
    8. Lauren

      Infiltrators? That’s exactly how we Americans feel about Israel taking over our Congress and White House. Unfortunately, our “leaders” have sold us out while beefing up Israel. All the while ignoring our needs right here!!!
      If Israel made the lazy Haredi folks work, you could save the welfare payments and not worry about “infiltators” coming in.

      Reply to Comment
    9. borg

      Larry-have you considered infiltrating the workplace?

      Reply to Comment
    10. Shaun

      Maybe these infiltrators should be educated by 972 ..then they will learn about the horrible apartheid country called Israel and they will stop coming to such an evil place.

      Reply to Comment