Tuesday, November 15, 2011
How Israelis Handle African Immigrants
Israel Studies Plan to Detain Illegal Migrants
By Joel Millman and Joshua Mitnick
The Wall Street Journal • November 15, 2011 p. A15
...Israel's so-called Prevention of Infiltration Law. Originally promulgated in 1954 to curb Palestinians seeking to return to their homes...is a law that the government now wants to modify to enable three-year detentions without trial for illegal migrants entering from Africa via Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.
...Concerned about maintaining a Jewish majority, Israel has looked askance at allowing "return" rights to Palestinians. There is a broad worry in Israel that too many non-Jewish residents will erode the society's ethnic core.
...Across Israel more than 40,000 Africans bear identity cards that designate them as under "Conditional Release" - a form of house arrest that prohibits the designee from working. The designation frees the government from housing and feeding the illegal immigrants while stopping short of granting them asylum-seeker status. Tesfamariam Tekeste, Eritrea's ambassador to Israel, considers the "conditional" arrangement a travesty. The ban against working exposes Eritrean laborers to exploitation by unscrupulous employers, while poverty forces Africans to sleep in city parks or rent hovels from slumlords...
Today, the emergence of African districts in cities including Eilat, Ashdod and Tel Aviv is alarming to many. "Look at Tel Aviv," says Ya'akov Katz, of the religious National Union party, who complains that the city is already experiencing a variant of "white flight" from some districts. Within five years, he warns, "Tel Aviv is going to be an African city."
Mr. Katz approves of the new legislation, which envisions more money to complete a security fence along Israel's border with Sinai, and new funds to complete a detention city where "infiltrators" can be held for up to three years without trial." (End quote)