Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sudanese Refugees in Israel.

Warning: Politically Incorrect Posting ahead.

Despite my support for stopping Sudanese terror in Darfur, I am firmly against Israel accepting the oncoming tidal wave of Sudanese refugees.

Background: Over the past week, dozens of Sundanese refugees have illegally crossed over the border from Egypt into Israel. What started a year ago with a dozen Sudanese refugees seeking refuge in Israel has grown to approximately 1400, with 58 entering Israel illegally last week alone.

These refugees are coming to Israel via Egypt, where an estimated 3 million of them live.

Now, as much as I understand the plight of the Sudanese in Sudan and the dangers they face there, the primary reason they are smuggling themselves into Israel is for better economic opportunities (it can't be that great in Egypt).

That said, there's a world of difference between Israel providing refuge to those fleeing a murderous regime, and naively opening up it's gates to a Muslim community seeking economic advancement.

Israel is not a land of unlimited economic opportunity; in fact, the opposite is quite true. Israel's economy can not survive a massive influx of these refugees.

If you start accepting these refugees into Israel, it will only encourage more.

Israel is not based on "Give me your tired, your weak, your poor Moslem refugees" -- we try to deal exclusively with Jewish immigration. There are 22 Moslem countries who are more than capable of dealing with this issue, so that Israel's already burdened economy does not have to accept this problem as well.

And we have more than enough problems to worry about today which are not being addressed amply.

Hilel Halkin, a contributing editor of the NY Sun criticizes Israel:
One cannot, as an Israeli, feel anything but shame at the way one's government has reacted to the influx of hundreds of Sudanese refugees, many of them from Darfur, who have recently crossed the border from Egypt into Israel.

Or perhaps one should say "has not reacted," because apart from stating its intention of returning them to Egypt, Prime Minister Olmert's government has done nothing while the penniless Sudanese whom have been rounded up by the army, whose patrols have found them on the Israeli side of the desert border between Sinai and the Negev; taken to the Negev's main city of Beersheba; dumped unceremoniously in its streets; and left to fend for themselves with what help they have been able to get from local authorities and volunteer organizations.
Halkin's shame at Olmert and Israel is totally misplaced, since his expectations are totally displaced from reality.

Israel isn't capable of dealing with it's own, self-created refugee problem of those evicted from Gush Katif.

Don't get me wrong; the people from Gush katif didn't flee genocide, but that Israel can't even get their act together for their own citizens, should be proof enough to Halkin that his criticism is off the mark.

Just today the Jerusalem Post reports the following:
The majority of former Gaza periphery residents are in dire conditions, says a report published by an ad hoc parliamentary committee established to determine the aftermath of the 2005 disengagement.

Israel Radio reported Tuesday afternoon that most of the evacuees were still living in temporary housing and that hundreds of families were dependent on assistance from welfare services.

The report also found that the percentage of unemployed Gaza periphery evacuees was double their number before the disengagement.

The Ministry of Education estimated that approximately half the schoolchildren from evacuees' families did not return to normal functioning, that about a third of them needed extensive help in studying and that many of the children needed support and professional counseling.

Junior high- and high school pupils exhibited a decline in achievements and lower concentration span.

School counselors reported an increase in abuse of controlled substances, decline in the development of social skills and rise in suicidal thoughts among teenagers.

The report was published preceding a discussion on the disengagement evacuees' condition in the Knesset's State Control Committee.
Some might say that Israel has the moral imperative to accept Sudanese refugees, in light of the Holocaust.

To them I say, there weren't any Jewish countries back then to accept Jewish refugees. Today, we have only one, tiny country.

And we don't need to sacrifice it.



Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael

24 comments:

Rob Fisher said...

I think you're wrong about the economics. In general, as long as immigrants earn their own living, they're good for an economy because wealth comes from human labour and knowlege. This happens best in a free country. As a free country, I'd argue that Israel *does* have unlimited economic opportunity. The economist Julian Simon wrote a lot about this sort of thing.

To the extent that these immigrants want to improve their economic situtation by working, I don't think they'll be a problem.

Eitan Ha'ahzari said...

Jameel: I think you're right on with this post. Why should Israel provide refuge for Muslims fleeing the abuse of their own brethren!? Israel, as you mentioned, isn't even capable of dealing with the refugees of Gush Katif so why in the world should we have to pay the economical price of taking in thousands of non-Jews. This land was created to provide safe-haven for world Jewry, not world Islam.

ari kinsberg said...

ROB FISHER:

it is not a question of economics, but rather one of diluting even further the jewish majority.

i do, however, agree with your economics assessment. these people will not take away jobs from jews. they will do the avodah shehorah (no pun intended) that jews don't want to do anyway. the only question is whether they can be trusted or will they be sympathetic to their palestinian co-relgionists. everyone likes to overlook that they are coming from an area that is not friendly toward israel.

The back of the hill said...

In Egypt, they're refugees of a murderous regime.

In Israel, what are they fleeing? Egypt?

The term refugee is much over-used.

-----------

Snarky comment: I suppose that there is a real danger that those folks in the camps in Lebanon will dilute the Arab character of that nation......

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach said...

Jameel - well said.
BOTH - I was wondering the same thing.

I'm wondering how having cheap (illegal) labor is good for the economy? It's a real question, not rhetorical. Wouldn't it be better to pay Jews a decent wage and encourage them/us to take care of ourselves? Easy for me to say, I know. I'm in high-tech, not a housecleaner ...

tafka PP said...

Not in any way well said.

To essentially argue that because the Gush Katif refugees are still being neglected by the government therefore we are exempt from any moral obligation to shelter asylum seekers is beyond flimsy. What else do we need to shirk from, on that basis? Even prior to the Gush Katif debacle, the Israeli government welfare system was beyond shameful: I could start writing a detailed list of everyone they routinely neglect on a minute-by-minute basis and I wouldn't be finished until next week.

But you weren't even talking about that. So let's get back to uneccessarily importing foreigners, which seems to be the main gist of your post?

- 2,000 extra potential "Foreigners" (Muslim or other) who are more than willing to do the "Avoda Shchora" (which the commenter above me so succinctly summed up will never be done by Israelis) will hardly even dent the amount of illegal and legal aliens in this country (again, Muslim or other). Nobody- not even the local campaigners on the Darfur issue- is advocating adopting policy of opening doors and accepting a stampede, rather, they are focussing upon the fact that like every other country, Israel DOES have an obligation to deal humanely with those who are already here. How can you possibly have a problem with that, on face value?

If your problem is that this is, on a wider level, contributing to the un-Jewishing of Israel, well, that's another issue which I won't take up with you now- but in the case of the Sudanese refugees, isn't really relevant. And look at it this way- knowing our government, I'm sure they could find a way to suddenly convert all the Darfurians en masse should the mood ever take them.

At the end of the day, this is about people fleeing genocide. This is what we are commanded to do, as Jews.

http://www.israelfordarfur.org/WhyIsrael.html

Olah Chadasha said...

Look, I agree AND disagree with you. While I believe that Israel is walking a slippery slope here, they still have a moral obligation to taken in these people that are facing GENOCIDE in their home country. And, this may sound cold, but Israel should be playing up the PR here for all it's worth. While Britain is boycotting us, we're actually doing something about the crisis in Sudan. What is Britain doing about it? NOTHING! While they're balking and hoping the UN takes the lead and does something, Israel is actually taking action. While they're calling us an apartheid state, we're quietly taking in hundreds and thousands of BLACK AFRICANS and giving them economic and academic opportunities. Of all countries, they're coming HERE.

Instead of silently helping these people, the Israeli PR machine should be blowing the horn to the world about what we're doing.

Listen, just because we've taken these Sudanese refugees into the country doesn't mean they're going to stay here. But, they should be allowed to stay here or be given asylum as long as the threat of death and rape exists in their home country. It's our moral duty as human beings and as Jews regardless of dirty and disgusting politics that the Disengagement refugees continue to suffer.
-OC

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

TafkaPP:

Thanks for your comment. I'd like to point out a few issues I have with it.

1. At the end of the day, this is about people fleeing genocide. This is what we are commanded to do, as Jews. They aren't fleeing Sundan, they are fleeing Egypt for better economic advancement. If there were genocide going on in Egypt, then your point would be more valid.

2. 2,000 extra potential "Foreigners" (Muslim or other) who are more than willing to do the "Avoda Shchora" (which the commenter above me so succinctly summed up will never be done by Israelis) will hardly even dent the amount of illegal and legal aliens in this country (again, Muslim or other) Unfortunately, as soon as word gets out that Israel is not only providing an alternative to Egypt as a place of refuge, but offering economic incentives (JOBS -- even menial avodah shechora), we will not be able to stop the massive influx of Sudanese crossing the Egypt/Southern Negev border.

3. Israel DOES have an obligation to deal humanely with those who are already here Yes, it would be nice if we didn't bus them from city to city till we send them back to Egypt, but what do you expect? The only person capable of such logistics is not Ehud Olmert, or anyone in the government...it's Arkady Gaydamak.

The bottom line IS based on Jewish morality (and halacha):

Your own city's poor come first.

Once we've solved all the issues of poverty in Israel today, (including that of Israel's current migrant worker problem!!!) should Israel consider helping economically strapped Sudanese fleeing Egypt (and not fleezng the genocide of Sudan)

tafka PP said...

I don't know what the argument is here. Now that they are here, they have become "your own city's poor." Period. Feel free to say we shouldn't take any more in, but now they're here, they're here, and we have nothing short of a moral obligation to assist them.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

TafkaPP: Why is there more of a moral obligation to help people, non-citizens who illegally entered Israel from a poorer country (Egypt, not Sudan), above that of poor, Israeli citizens?

Rob Fisher said...

ari kinsberg: your point about politics is well taken. Where immigration works well (e.g. USA) it is because the immigrants integrate with the values of freedom and capitalism. I can see why you are concerned about the demographics. Numbers seem low so far but Jameel thinks they could grow.

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach asked: "I'm wondering how having cheap (illegal) labor is good for the economy?"

It turns out that cheap labour means cheap goods and services for you. Having cheap labour means you can hire people to do things that otherwise wouldn't be profitable. More work ends up getting done and more wealth is created. Paying people "a decent wage" in practice doesn't work -- you can only pay someone up to the amount of wealth their work generates.

A more detailed discussion on wages (actually about minimum wage laws but it's interesting and the principles it explains are relevant) is here (you have to click on the "Section x" links to read the whole thing).

tafka PP said...

At what point did anyone say that there is "more of a moral obligation to help people, non-citizens who illegally entered Israel from a poorer country (Egypt, not Sudan), above that of poor, Israeli citizens?"

I certainly didn't. And I've never heard anyone from the Israeli campaign saying anything like that either. Why do the two have to be mutually exclusive?

Annie said...

Jameel, I have to disagree with you on this one. Point by point:

1)I don't think that you can make the claim that they are just seeking "economic advancement." You could say that they are choosing to leave their country for Israel over Egypt for economic reasons, but they are leaving Sudan mostly because there's a genocide going on there.

2)The numbers of Sudanese who are likely to take refuge in Israel are not likely to make a huge difference demographically. As an add-on to this point, there is a shortage of blue-collar and unskilled laborers in Israel, so Sudanese aren't taking jobs that Israelis want.

3)Just because no country took in Jews, we should perpetuate this cycle? This is a chance for Israel to get some great publicity, and really help people who don't have anywhere else to go. How well have the "Moslem countries" done for their other refugees historically? Case in point, the Palestinian refugees. Can we really expect them to help the Sudanese? If not us, whom?

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Hi Annie -- here's my reply...

1. Yes, they left Sudan because of genocide and went to Egypt. They are now in refugee centers in Egypt. They are coming to Israel to seek better economics than in Egypt. What exactly is the point of letting them in?

2. The numbers are very small now. If Israel adopts the position that Egyptian immigrants (from Sudan) can receive economic asylum in Israel, there will be a flood of unprecedented illegal immigration from Egypt (there are about 3 million Sudanese there now...why wouldn't they try to get into Israel?)

3. If not us, whom? For Israel to be a light unto the nations, we need to be self-sufficient. Israel has weekly labor-union strikes, homelessness, poverty, unemployment...and currently needs to annually borrow huge sums from the United States.

While Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States could solve this issue without even noticing, I'm not convinced a country with Israel's financial limitations should risk such a serious economic and demographic liability.

It's an unpleasant issue of risk management.

Annie said...

Jameel- while I agree that these are risks, I think that there are differences between some, and none. If Israel said, we'll accept x number of Sudanese, I don't see the difference between that (in terms of the desire to come in illegally) compared with the current illegal immigration.

Ari Kinsberg said...

Ye'he Sh'mey Raba Mevorach:

"I'm wondering how having cheap (illegal) labor is good for the economy? . . . Wouldn't it be better to pay Jews a decent wage and encourage them/us to take care of ourselves?"

the ideal of avodah ivri is long dead (even kibbutzim hire thais for the agricultural work). jews don't want to do these jobs. and the truth is israel's citizens should not be doing these jobs. i'm all for self-sufficiency, but i'd rather have a country full of engineers, medical researchers and programmers. this is the country's future. now if israel could only make this type of education available to all . . .

Ari Kinsberg said...

ANNIE:

"This is a chance for Israel to get some great publicity"

Olah Chadasha:

"Israel should be playing up the PR here for all it's worth."

if israel is going to let them in, then it should because there is good reason to (whether morally, economically, etc.)

no one is ever going to give israel a pat on the shoulder for doing something good (unless of course the state dismantles itself, but even then it will be blamed for waiting too long).

i'm still awaiting the nyt editorial that praises israel for not shooting them on sight like the egyptian border guards do

Irina Tsukerman said...

Have to agree with Jameel's every word here. While I understand the temptation to compare Darfur with Holocaust and the Jewish obligation to prevent these situations from happening... there's absolutely NO obligation for Israel to endanger its own well-being in any way, shape or form. As soon as even a minimal risk of such endangerment comes in, all moral obligations stop.

tnspr569 said...

There's a fine line between assisting others and serving as a doormat.

Right on, Jameel, as usual.

tafka PP said...

Irina- if you're basing your theories of "risks of endangerment" solely on what Jameel has written, please bear in mind that Jameel merely presented his opinion here. And, as he'll be the first to admit, he's not always right.

Michael said...

Jameel:
Spot on.
You said: There are 22 Moslem countries who are more than capable of dealing with this issue, so that Israel's already burdened economy does not have to accept this problem as well.

But now that these muslim refugees are coming here, we can be damn sure that the muslim countries won't help, or even try to help, while they point the finger of hypocritical moral accusation at Israel.

Irina Tsukerman said...

Tafka: No, I'm not basing that on Jameel's opinion. I am basing it on my own, which just happens to agree with many of the points Jameel raised. Unfortunately, demographics is indeed a problem that cannot be ignored... and I do tend to be quite cynical when it comes to the "appreciation" of Israel's efforts to behave in moral and humane ways. I am very much afraid that this situation will backfire. Of course, I, too, may be wrong.

Schvach said...

Bravo! Me too.

elchonon said...

You guys sadly have it wrong, my roomate and hundreds of friends work on farms and such for 20 - 25 shekel a hour.. there are thousands of americans here both visitors and olim that kill for these jobs! the biggest problem is having a bos that does not pay.. never heard a friend complain about working for 20 shekel a hour!

I worked for 17 shekel a hour for 2 monthes doing data entry my first year here, worked at my friend's resturant (calba savoa) for 50 shekel's a day plus free food.. he has only jews working for him.

Jameel is correct, a nation needs to seal its borders.. perioud!

Halachikaly they need to become a ger toshav I think?

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