EsinIslam Portal Media Network
11 January 2014
By Stephen Lendman
Israeli policy reflects the worst of Zionism's dark
side. Separate and unequal defines longstanding
Non-Jewish asylum seekers and refugees fleeing
persecution aren't wanted. Arabs and black African
ones are deplored most of all.
Israel treats them like criminals. Discriminatory laws
target them. Fundamental rights are denied.
Torture victims fleeing repression face enormous
hurdles to gain entry. Israel spurns international law
with impunity. It does what it wants unaccountably.
Protecting refugees and asylum seekers doesn't matter.
Article I of the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the
Status of Refugees calls them:
"A person who owning to a well-founded fear of being
persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality,
membership of a particular social group or political
opinion, is outside the country of their nationality,
and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling
to avail him/herself of the protection of that
Post-WW II, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
was established to help them.
To gain legal protection, they must:
• be outside their country of origin;
• fear persecution;
• be harmed or fear harm by their government or
• fear persecution for at least one of the above cited
• pose no danger to others.
Israel signed the 1951 Convention. Interior Ministry
procedures and secret inter-ministerial determinations
decide individual cases.
Compared to Western states, Israel accepts the fewest
number of temporary or permanent refugees. It ignores
its legal and moral responsibility to help.
In January 2012, Israel's Knesset enacted a draconian
Anti-Infiltration Law. It amended the 1954 Law to
The new measure targets refugees, asylum seekers, and
their families. Minimally, they face three years
imprisonment. Detentions may be indefinitely extended.
A previous version mandated life sentences for
refugees and asylum seekers convicted of property
Minor offenses like graffiti were included. Persons
providing aid face five to 15 year sentences.
The Association for Civil Rights (ACRI) in Israel
called the 2010 measure "one of the most dangerous
bills ever presented in the Knesset." Its softened
version remains brazenly undemocratic and shameful.
ACRI calls it "draconian and immoral, and its entire
purpose is to deter refugees from entering Israel. The
law blatantly disregards Israel's most basic
commitments as a member of the community of nations
and as a signatory to the Convention Relating to the
Status of Refugees."
"The State of Israel has the right to protect its
borders, but not by trampling human rights and
ignoring democratic values."
The measure's sole purpose is to exclude non-Jews from
entering Israel any reason. Imagine imprisoning a
legitimate asylum-seeking refugee seeking help.
Israel's inhospitable history is longstanding. It's
appalling. Jews alone are welcome. Others are
Last September, ACRI reported good news. Israel's High
Court ruled imprisoning asylum seekers longterm is
It did so unanimously. Its ruling following ACRI's
petition. It sought to overturn a blatantly
discriminatory law. The Court gave state authorities
90 days to examine each case individually.
Detainees eligible under longstanding Entry to Israel
Law must be released. Holding them longterm is
Around 2,000 men, women and children are held under
harsh conditions without trial. Most are Sudanese and
Eritreans. They fled severe persecution. Returning
them risks brutal treatment and/or death.
ACRI warned: "(T)he struggle is not over." Indeed not.
On November 28, Haaretz headlined "Knesset advancing
bill to detain migrants without trial, despite legal
On November 27, Knesset members "gave preliminary
approval to an amendment allowing detention without
trial for up to a year for African asylum-seekers who
entered Israel illegally," said Haaretz.
Knesset legal advisor Eyal Yinon called detention
without trial legally objectionable. Extremist MKs
On December 10, legislation permitting detention of
unwanted asylum seekers and refugees for one year was
It did so as an amendment to the Anti-Infiltration
Law. Doing so followed a tumultuous late night
Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar defended the measure.
He disgracefully said:
"Not only are we not embarrassed by this law, but we
would have been deeply ashamed had we stood helpless
in the face of this aspect of Israeli defense."
He lied adding:
"Israel is the only country in the West that is
exposed to this danger because it shares a land border
with Africa. We cannot burden ourselves with all the
ills and problems of the African continent."
"This isn't a passing danger, but a lurking danger,"
he added. He left unexplained that Israel wants all
On December 9, Israel's High Court refused a request
by human rights groups to hold state authorities in
contempt. It's warranted for racist laws and numerous
other disturbing practices.
On January 5, tens of thousands of African migrants
protested. They did so in central Tel Aviv's Rabin
Square. They rallied against efforts to lawlessly
detain them. Dozens of Israelis joined them.
"Yes to freedom. No to jail," they chanted.
Separately, hundreds of African migrants rallied in
Eilat. It's a seaside resort town. African migrants
work in Israel's tourist industry.
One protester spoke for others, saying:
"We want the government to pay attention to people.
All the doors have closed. People have nowhere to go,
nothing to do."
"The immigration police are working all the time,
catching people. You go to the Interior Ministry to
get a visa. There are long lines. In the end you don't
get a visa."
"You're on the street. They catch you without a visa.
You go to jail. A large portion of the people are in
jail now. We want to say that we deserve to live. We
deserve human rights."
"We fled here because of the danger to our lives in
our countries of origin. We are seeking political
asylum. Like every person, we also want to earn an
income so we can live in dignity - but work is not the
reason we came to Israel."
Up to 50,000 African migrants live in Israel. Those
able to find work hold menial, low pay jobs. They're
ones most Israelis shun.
Protest organizers called for authorization to open
Holot detention center overturned. They want Israel
prevented from rounding up asylum-seeking refugees.
They want those detained released. They want
international law observed. They want UN officials to
pressure Israel "to take on its share of the
responsibility for asylum seekers."
A flyer announcing protest action said:
"Our only sin is that we ran away from political
persecution, forcible military service, dictatorship,
civil war and genocide."
On January 8, African asylum-seeking refugees
protested in Jerusalem's Wohl Rose Park. It's directly
across from the Knesset.
Their representatives sought entry. They were denied.
Speaker Yuli Edelstein lied, saying "the entrance of
infiltrators into the Knesset would cause a
provocation and could lead to violence and
His comment came after extremist MK Miri Regev said
admitting them would "damage the honor of the Knesset
and the rule of law."
She, Netanyahu, most ministers, and the great majority
of MKs spurn rule of law principles. They do it
consistently. They operate extrajudicially. They do it
Israeli author David Grossman joined protesters. He
did so in solidarity, saying:
"I look at you now all the tens of thousands of
people, and I feel embarrassed and ashamed that we
have reached this situation."
"Israel has not created this problem, but there is a
problem now and we have to struggle with it and to
solve it in the most humane way."
"You are normal ordinary people who are trapped in an
abnormal and very extreme situation."
African migrants aren''t criminals, he added. Israel
should willingly give them shelter.
MK Michal Rozin chairs the Knesset Committee on the
Problem of Foreign Workers. She strongly opposes
migrant detentions. Asylum seekers want their voices
heard, she said.
"A government at peace with its policies would respond
in kind, but since this is not the case, we have
called on Knesset Members to come to a meeting and
talk with these representatives, listen to their
problems, ask questions and get answers," she
"They are human beings, and it is high time the
government treats them that way."
On January 8, Haaretz explained another cross African
asylum-seeking refugees bear. It headlined "Israel has
examined only 250 out of 1,800 asylum requests - and
Not a single Sudanese, Eritrean, or other African
migrant got due consideration. Failure is more
evidence of Israeli racism.
European nations approve similar requests over 70% of
the time. Israel wants no non-Jews. It goes all out to
deny legitimate requests.
"Until about a year ago, Israel did not allow Eritrean
or Sudanese nationals to request asylum," said Haaretz.
Many migrants were imprisoned. Israel is the only
developed country to do so.
"In late May 2013, the Interior Ministry began denying
the first requests from Eritrean national nine months
after they" requested asylum, Haaretz explained.
It did so "on the grounds that draft evasion or
desertion from military service did not provide enough
basis to claim political persecution."
Asylum seekers seek refuge for legitimate reasons.
It's to avoid persecution and/or death. According to
Hotline for Refugees and Migrants public policy
coordinator Sigal Rozen:
"For many years, the Interior Ministry refused to
examine the asylum requests of Sudanese and Eritrean
nationals, and barred them access to the asylum system
on the grounds that they were not being deported from
"Even according to the draconian Prevention of
Infiltration Law, the Hotline for Refugees and
Migrants fought for months until it compelled the
state to examine, at the very least, the applications
of the Eritreans and Sudanese who were imprisoned."
"Eritreans and Sudanese people tried for years to
apply for asylum, but even though they had assistance
from human-rights organizations and even an attorney,
the door was closed to them until recently."
"As long as the Population, Immigration and Border
Authority concentrates on examining the asylum
requests of work migrants from the Philippines and
Thailand and takes care to avoid examining such
requests from Eritrean and Sudanese refugees, it is
likely that we will keep seeing the same tiny
percentage of recognition of refugees in Israel."
Israeli racism is institutionalized. It's part of the
national culture. Non-Jews aren't wanted. Arabs and
black Africans are hated. They're treated accordingly.
They're denied fundamental human and civil rights.
Rogue states operate this way. Israel is one of the
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached
at firstname.lastname@example.org. His new book is
titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen
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