Setting the Record Straight on Israel’s Deportation of Illegal Immigrants

Israel has recently announced plans to expel a number of migrants who entered the country without permission—most of them from Sudan or Eritrea via the Sinai between 2006 and 2012. Predictably the decision has raised an outcry, including from American Jewish groups. Against these critics, Emmanuel Navon explains that the deportees are not refugees, and that the deportations are in line with Western practice in general:

Like other signatories of the UN’s 1951 Refugees Convention, Israel is bound to grant refugee status to people who flee “genocide, war, persecution, and slavery to dictatorial regimes.” It did so in 1977 when it accepted Vietnamese “boat people” rejected by other countries. It has been doing so for the small percentage of African migrants who are actual asylum seekers. . . . Israel does, [for instance], consider the Sudanese from Darfur a special case, . . . which is why the Israeli government has granted temporary-resident status so far to 500 Darfur refugees, and has promised to speed up the refugee-status determination process for other Darfur refugees.

Israel could theoretically keep illegal work migrants for altruistic reasons (as advocated mainly by American Jewish groups), but the Israeli government, like any responsible and answerable government, must also take into account the well-being of its own citizens. The residents of south Tel Aviv, [where most of the immigrants settle], are the victims of rising crime rates and of deteriorating living conditions. . . . Moreover, as opposed to large and aging countries such as Germany and Japan, Israel is a small and densely populated country with high birthrates, and therefore it has neither the need nor the capacity to legalize illegal migration. . . . Israel is only expelling illegal immigrants who are single, and it has made clear that it will not expel families.

Israel is far from being the only democracy that sends back illegal immigrants. The United States expels 400,000 illegal immigrants every year. Germany has been sending back illegal immigrants to Afghanistan, and Italy to Sudan. In 2017, Germany expelled 80,000 illegal immigrants. . . .

Israel is a safe haven to all Jews, as well as to non-Jewish asylum seekers who meet the criteria of the Refugee Convention—which most illegal immigrants don’t. Israel’s policy is consistent with international law and with the practice of other democracies, and it should not be judged by higher standards.

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Israel’s Nation-State Law and the Hysteria of the Western Media

Aug. 17 2018

Nearly a month after it was passed by the Knesset, the new Basic Law defining Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people” is still causing outrage in the American and European press. The attacks, however, are almost uniformly incommensurate with this largely symbolic law, whose text, in the English translation found on the Knesset website, is barely over 400 words in length. Matthew Continetti comments:

Major journalistic institutions have become so wedded to a pro-Palestinian, anti-Benjamin Netanyahu narrative, in which Israel is part of a global trend toward nationalist authoritarian populism, that they have abdicated any responsibility for presenting the news in a dispassionate and balanced manner. The shameful result of this inflammatory coverage is the normalization of anti-Israel rhetoric and policies and widening divisions between Israel and the diaspora.

For example, a July 18, 2018, article in the Los Angeles Times described the nation-state law as “granting an advantageous status to Jewish-only communities.” But that is false: the bill contained no such language. (An earlier version might have been interpreted in this way, but the provision was removed.) Yet, as I write, the Los Angeles Times has not corrected the piece that contained the error. . . .

Such through-the-looking-glass analysis riddled [the five] news articles and four op-eds the New York Times has published on the matter at the time of this writing. In these pieces, “democracy” is defined as results favored by the New York Times editorial board, and Israel’s national self-understanding as in irrevocable conflict with its democratic form of government. . . .

The truth is that democracy is thriving in Israel. . . .  The New York Times quoted Avi Shilon, a historian at Ben-Gurion University, who said [that] “Mr. Netanyahu and his colleagues are acting like we are still in the battle of 1948, or in a previous era.” Judging by the fallacious, paranoid, fevered, and at times bigoted reaction to the nation-state bill, however, Bibi may have good reason to believe that Israel is still in the battle of 1948, and still defending itself against assaults on the very idea of a Jewish state.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Israel's Basic Law, Israeli democracy, Media, New York Times