Sunday, June 7, 2009

On the Ambivalence of Being a Safe Harbor

You're a young person in Darfur, say, perhaps your family has been murdered or dispersed, your life is hell, but you're young and enterprizing and willing to go great lengths to improve your lot - probably by foot. So what's the nearest western democracy that may offer a chance for a better life?


Since 2005 there has been a steady trickle of refugees making their way across the deserts and borders to Israel, mostly from Dafur and war-torn Eritrea. Not all survive; but some do. These aren't Jews, of course.They're black Africans, mostly Muslims. Yet of all the countries around them and beyond, they expect Israel has the most to offer them. Strange, isn't it.

More than 17,000 of them have arrived so far. They don't fit into Israeli society in any recognizable way, yet when they started arriving there was a brief agonized public discussion, and the Israelis decided there was no way they could be turned away. Israel can't reject escapees of genocide or other severe persecution, not even if they're African Muslims. So they're allowed in, and turned over to various voluntary organizations who do their best, which is less than optimal. The government, meanwhile, treats them with what's best called callous indifference. They're shunted around, the bureacracy wishes they'd go away, but since they don't they're slowly gaining toeholds. This article about them concentrates on the bleaker aspects of their story, but you need to remember that it's stories like these which have been slowly creating openings for these people; anyway, I can't think of any western democracy that's in the position to lecture us when it comes to letting in uncalled for African refugees. So perhaps it would be better to read between the lines of the article to understand why ever more of these people keep on coming.

And remember the story the next time some malicious fool tells about how racist a country Israel is.


Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

"Israel can't reject escapees of genocide or other severe persecution, not even if they're African Muslims. "

Yes it can. The Washington Post:

Israel closed the door Sunday on a surge of asylum-seekers from Sudan's Darfur region and from other African countries, the largest influx of non-Jewish refugees in the modern history of the Jewish state.

Authorities announced that they had expelled 48 of more than 2,000 African refugees who have entered illegally from Egypt in recent weeks. Officials said they would allow 500 Darfurians among them to remain, but would deport everyone else back to Egypt and accept no more illegal migrants from Darfur or other places.


"Regarding those who in the future" are "coming from anywhere . . . they will be sent back to Egypt. That would include anyone coming from Darfur," [Israeli government spokesman] Baker said.

You're indulging in the angelization of Israel.

YOU (not the anti-Zionists) claim Israel meets impossibly high moral standards. But you don't want the claim to be verified: that would be antisemitism.

Cake, having it, eating it.

Yaacov said...

Hi Faux Ibrahim. I'd feared you'd stopped visiting. Glad to see you're still seeking enlightenment. Anyway, you might want to note that the article you linked to is two years old, and in the meantime there are more than 17,000 African refugees in Israel.

Are there any in Argentina. Given the size of the country, there should be, don't you think?

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

Certainly 17,000 is a tiny number as compared to 2,000,000 Darfurian refugees in Egypt? And it's not like they've been granted asylum. And, most of them probably came before 2007, when the rejection policy was instituted.

As for Argentina, I never said we don't turn away refugees.

"Glad to see you're still seeking enlightenment."

You're a good writer. You regurgitate the same old tired Hasbara claims, memes, tropes and canards as everyone else, and you display a stunning ignorance of history given your training (you don't even know the difference between colonies of settlement and of exploitaition!). But at least you don't bore me.

Anonymous said...

2 million refugees from Darfur in Egypt? Wow.

In 2004 I was told that Darfur had a population of about 5 to 6 million people. According to wikipedia (sorry, I am lazy), the population was an estimated 5.5 million in 2006: about 1 million in West Darfur, 2.9 million in the South and about 1.6 million in North Darfur. (No clue how reliable the wiki numbers are, but given that it is a hot topic, I guess someone would have corrected them if they were complete bogus.)

In Ottobre 2007, the UNHCR estimated that about 2.5 million people had been displaced within Sudan and another 240'000 had flown to Chad. Not that I trust UN reports too much, but I would have expected them to mention that almost all of the other Darfurians had flown to Egypt.