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They weren't real refugees

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Netanyahu talked about how Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany were turned away by countries around the world. Considering the Netanyahu government’s standards for processing asylum claims, would Jewish refugees have been accepted by today’s Israel?

Jewish refugees aboard the SS St. Louis look out through the portholes of the ship while docked in the port of Havana. June 02, 1939 (Photo: Dwight D. Eisenhower Library)

“The gates of [the land of Israel] were locked to Jewish refugees, as were the gates of most countries, if not all of them, including the most enlightened ones.” (Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech on Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony, April 7, 2013)

Bibi, why are you lying? They’re not refugees.

First of all, everyone knows what the economic situation in Germany was after the First World War. People ran away in order to have something to live on.

Second, when they were asked why they came to the countries they arrived in, they said that they wanted to live better lives than they had in Germany. Real refugees never talk about their quality of life.

Third, there is no such thing as “the gates of most countries.” Real refugees always stay in the nearest country of refuge, the first one they arrive in, and don’t travel to “the gates of most countries.”

Fourth, none of them, not one, filled out forms, nor did they submit asylum requests in any country. Real refugees don’t fill out forms.

Fifth, when some of them were interviewed, contradictions were found in their stories. One time their windows were smashed in at 11:58 at night on November 9, and another time at 12:04 a.m. on November 10. One time seven people shattered their windows, and another time eight. Real refugees remember, and don’t make mistakes about such things.

Sixth, none of them, ever, was recognized as a refugee. Real refugees are always recognized.

Seventh, if they were real refugees it would have been forbidden to return them to the countries they fled. Despite that, they were returned to Europe – or in a coordinated return immediately after arriving in different countries, or voluntarily after they complained about not being allowed to work and live and that life was really difficult – and no court, ever, said it was forbidden.

Eighth, what was done to them? They conscripted them and sent them to camps in order to work a little for their countries? You didn’t go to the army to serve your country? Everyone who had a grueling army experience is considered a refugee?

Ninth, and to conclude, even if some of them were real refugees – and they weren’t – then how many of them do you have to accept? No, really, if you have such a beautiful soul, and are ready to receive refugees, then say how many. Throw out a number. How many is okay? Two hundred? Two thousand? Twenty thousand? The entire 6 million? What country would take 6 million?

Basically, Bibi, enough with the lies. Take away all of the survivors of this Holocaust of yours, with their complaints, and their wars, and the violence they bring with them everywhere they go, and deal with them in your own back yard.

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    1. Ina

      Israeldoesn’t accept Syrian refugees even though Syria shares borders with Israel and allother countries that share borders with Syria have accepted refugees,realrefugees fleeing from war, imprisonment torture etc.

      Reply to Comment
      • aristeides

        The exception has always been Palestinian refugees, the curse of statelessness.

        Reply to Comment
        • sh

          Exactly. And when I’m asked what I think about Syria, that’s the only thing I’m 100% clear about. Jordan and Lebanon turned away those fleeing Syria who were refugees already, because of their Palestinian ancestry. Refugee is a nationality nobody wants and few mourn.

          Reply to Comment
    2. Carl

      Spot on, though you need to edit point four: “not one, filled out forms … Real refugees don’t fill out forms”.

      Reply to Comment
    3. rsgengland

      If Israel had existed before the Second World War, it is likely that there would not have been ‘THE HOLOCAUST’.
      It is even possible that if Israel had existed then, Hitler would not have had his Jewish scapegoats, the Second World War might have been averted.
      All dictators need enemies to unite the people.
      The Jews were Hitlers tool.
      If the Jews could have escaped Germany, their Antisemitic propaganda value would not have existed, or been greatly reduced.
      Its only a theory.
      But who is there to say it is wrong?

      Reply to Comment
      • Gearoid

        Everything is possible apologist, but few things are likely.

        Take your revisionism elsewhere.

        I’m there to say it’s wrong. No credible historian would agree with you. It might seem nice in a far-right Israeli paradigm perhaps, but in the real world it’s nothing but nationalistic crap, revising history by suggesting that somehow, some tiny state in the Levant, could have prevented something the the major powers of the time could not prevent.

        It’s frankly, ridiculous.

        Reply to Comment
      • sh

        How about looking at fact for a change? Those who saw it coming and successfully fled when they could were the ones with money. Relatively few chose Israel as their destination, even when they could have gone. And of course, this satirical, cynical piece talks of those who tried to flee after Kristallnacht, not those who emigrated during the first decades of the 20th century. It was only after Kristallnacht that everyone internalized that the goose was really cooked and gates slammed shut.

        Reply to Comment
      • JG

        Proved again that you have absolute no knowledge of german fascism and history at all.
        Hitlers first goal that was executed was to eliminate all who opposes his politics, the, how especially people like you called it till toady;”lefties”
        And that included the war against the SU, to eliminate “bolshevizm”.
        And his goal was to eradicate the outcome of WW1, by attacking Poland, France, England etc. All that had absolutely nothing to do with Jews at all.

        Even if this scumbag and his german lovers wouldn’t have been antisemites, the WW2 had happened.

        Reply to Comment
    4. MyRelativesDiedBecauseTheyCouldNotFindRefuge

      The author seems to think that the Jews of Europe went on holiday. He does not have a clue about the reality of the Holocaust and should be called on the carpet on this one. So should this site for publishing such an affrontary to humanity.

      I can’t put any of the worst images from those times, but this one shows what the Jews were fleeing.

      The Holocaust also known as the Shoah, was the mass murder or genocide of approximately six million Jews during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi Germany.


      Between the Nazi rise to power in 1933 and Nazi Germany’s surrender in 1945, more than 340,000 Jews emigrated from Germany and Austria. Tragically, nearly 100,000 of them found refuge in countries subsequently conquered by Germany. German authorities would deport and kill the vast majority of them. Look at this site:

      Stop trivializing the Holocaust. You are insulting.

      Reply to Comment
      • Mukmak

        Why are you lecturing the author as if they don’t know what the Holocaust is? I think you missed the point… Or maybe it’s just that irony in the English language is difficult to detect in writing. The author, who represents an immigrant advocacy organization in Israel, fully supports refugees. They only wish to say that Ethiopians and Eritreans have as much right to find refuge from their oppressive regimes as did Jews in the 1930s from Nazi Germany. “Never again” needs to apply to everyone, not just Jews.

        Reply to Comment
    5. American Me

      Christians have been getting slaughtered in countries like Iraq, Egypt, Pakistan. Have any Christians from those countries sought and received asylum in Israel?

      To compare: how many Jews from around the world immigrate lawfully into Israel each year?

      Reply to Comment
    6. For what it is worth (not much), I think I have shown considerable support for Passer’s refugee law posts. This one, though, strikes me as quite off base. The free ingress of Jews insured by the Declaration of Independence is not for refugees as such but all Jews in the creation of a homeland. A Jew may enter Israel regardless of legal refugee status (not fleeing economic condition, etc.). This means Israel will accept Jewish economic “refugees,” from Germany imagined or the former Soviet block. Bibi can expand the concept of refugee as much as he wants when it comes to the free ingress of Jews. This has no real comparative impact on standard refugee policy–which I agree from your posts is a legal farce. All that happens in the present post, however, is Israel bashing without real content.

      Reply to Comment
      • Oriol2

        What you say is not entirely true, Greg. Israel does grant citizenship to all Jews, irrespective of their previous situation, on the assumption that all of them share a common national identity. But at the same time one of the strongest arguments for the existence of Israel -at least on the emotional side- is the notion that in the moment of its foundation many Jews were refugees, and that all of the Jews are potential refugees on a permanent basis, as they don’t really belong to the nation-States -other than Israel- in which they live. For example I have seen German leftist pro-Zionist leaflets -I think Germany is perhaps the only country in the Western world were a good share of radical left-wingers are also pro-Zionists- that defended Israel’s right to exist because of its being a “refugee state”.
        On the other hand, I agree that the irony displayed in this article is rather cheap, and I am sorry for that, because ultimately I agree with its author.

        Reply to Comment
    7. Yanai

      It’s worth mentioning that Israel did not invent the definition of refugees by which it’s working. International law states that a refugee does not retain his status if he moves from the NEAREST safe country to another one because of economical reasons. Israel is not the nearest state, thus when refugees move to it for economic reasons, they are no longer refugees.
      Israel offered that, if the border issue is no longer a factor, it will gladly transfer these so called refugees to european countries. Of course no one accepted such an offer.
      Almost none of these people are refugees. But human rights require them to be taken care of. No one wants to be the one doing it, though.

      Reply to Comment
    8. David T.

      What die Zionist do, to help Jew fleeing to anywhere else than Palestine? There wasn’t even an official delegation at the conference in Evian 1938.

      Reply to Comment