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US Jewish groups say Israel’s expulsion of Africans ‘betrays Jewish values'

African illegal migrants carry their belongings following their release from the Holot Detention Centre in Israel's Negev desert, on August 25, 2015.
AFP/Menachem Kahana)
ADL, HIAS call on Israel to adopt a refugee policy in line with international law

Two major American Jewish organizations expressed “grave concerns” over Israel’s planned deportation of thousands of African migrants and asylum seekers, writing in an open letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the policy betrays shared Jewish values and Jews’ own refugee heritage.

The letter, sent by the heads of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Jewish refugee advocacy group HIAS , said that “the sweeping nature of this deportation scheme, coupled with the extreme difficulty to access the Israeli asylum system is having a devastating impact on the refugee community in Israel and betrays the core values that we, as Jews, share.”

The groups “strongly urged” Netanyahu not to implement the plan and to adopt a refugee policy that would, pursuant to international law, grant protection to persons legitimately fleeing violence or persecution by allowing them to live in Israel until it is safe for them to return home.

Israel plans to force some 38,000 migrants, mainly from Eritrea and Sudan, out of the country by March 2018, offering them $3,500 and a plane ticket if they leave “voluntarily” and warning that they may face arrest after the deadline.

Menahem KAHANA (AFP/File)

Israel has not clearly said where the migrants will go, but tacitly recognizes that the Sudanese and Eritreans cannot return to their dangerous homelands, so it has signed deals with Rwanda and Uganda, which agree to accept departing migrants on condition they consent to the arrangement, activists say.

Uganda has publicly denied any such deal. Rwanda has also dismissed its involvement, according to the UN.

The ADL and HAIS said that according to the testimonies of people relocated by Israel to third countries in Africa, deportees lack durable protection and have “risked their lives by taking dangerous onward journeys through conflict zones in South Sudan, Sudan and Libya to seek protection elsewhere.”

“Some have drowned at sea en route to Europe, while others were reportedly detained, tortured and extorted by human traffickers,” the letter said, warning that “those forced to leave Israel under the current Israeli government plan will likely face similar conditions and challenges.”

“As American Jews, one of our greatest concerns is the well-being and security of Israel,” the letter continued. “We want to see it prosper and overcome all of the challenges its precarious location imposes on it. We also care about our shared Jewish values and refugee heritage — a very human concern that reaches across borders and distances — and unifies us as a people.”

MENAHEM KAHANA (AFP/File)

Migrants started coming in large numbers across the porous border between Israel and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula in 2007, when nearly 5,000 entered, interior ministry figures show.

The government has since completed fencing the border and deploying electronic sensors. In the first six months of last year, no one made it across.

Over the years, those caught at the Egyptian frontier were detained at prisons in the Negev desert in southern Israel.

On release they were given bus tickets to Tel Aviv, arriving at the central bus station on the south side of the city.

Israeli residents of southern Tel Aviv have long complained of their presence and right-wing politicians have pledged to heed calls to force them out, often with harsh rhetoric.

See also:

US Jewish groups urge Netanyahu to reverse asylum seeker deportation plan

Online campaign asks pilots to refuse flights taking migrants out of Israel

(Staff with agencies)

Comments

(1)

The war with Iran & Syria is coming Israel no need 38,000 Islamist persons speaking Arabic inside Israel. No Country in the world give $3,500.00 to an illegal immigrant.

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