Catriel Lev's Blog: VeHaShalom VeHaEmmet

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Catriel Lev
כתריאל לב

Jun 15, 2010

A Program for African Émigrés/Refugees in Israel that is Both Practical and Humane

I have a somewhat detailed proposal on how to deal with the Africans who flee their countries of origin and enter Israel, and I think that my proposal is the wisest plan for dealing with the African refugee problem, and will also gain Israel some positive PR. I prefer to use the term "émigrés" in order not to enter the sub-debate between people who call them "infiltrators" and those who call them "refugees"; since it DOES NOT MATTER what you call them, they have a right to life and freedom, though it does not have to mean that they must live in Israel.

Too many politicians are fixated upon seeing either the problem Israel has with not enough resources to actually absorb all of these émigrés, or seeing the paramount humanitarian problem; that they cannot find the middle ground which I am suggesting.

I encourage everyone to pass these ideas on to other people you know who could possibly influence our government to put such a proposal into practice.

The points which I am trying to convey to as many people, especially Knesset members (and government members) as possible are:

1. We in Israel do not have to make this a debate between humanitarians who want to save the Africans who are running from their countries, and "practical people" who want to close the gates altogether because Israel does not have the resources to absorb hundreds of thousands of émigrés.
We can simply say that we will accept anyone running away, TEMPORARILY, until he can be absorbed in one of the rich countries (like Venezuela, Japan, etc.) which always states that it is in favor of saving refugees.

2. We DO NOT have to give these people citizenship or permanent residency just because we save them from being shot by the Egyptians. We just take them in, and Israel simply becomes a way station for them, and after a short period (I suggest six months) they should go to a country where they can live permanently (many of these countries are looking for able hands to work for them anyway).

3. We gain something in our public relations in the world, since we emphasize that we want to save whoever is fleeing, and many of these émigrés are black people (many of them Christians) fleeing from Muslim oppression.

4. Many of those who are not technically refugees are fleeing extreme economic deprivation (usually caused by the leaders of their countries hoarding all of the resources for themselves and not allowing the common people to benefit very much from those resources), and, if they have run to us, we should not refuse them entrance (though they need not remain with us permanently). However, whatever the true status of these people, we can take them in temporarily because we are passing them on to other countries who will deal with them in the long run.

5. If we refuse these people entrance, we end up looking very bad in the public eye (even when there is some justification for refusing many of them entrance); so why not reverse the situation and be the GOOD GUYS, who are accepting everyone who is fleeing, but living within our limitations as a small country which cannot absorb these people permanently, and therefore demands that the rest of the world "put their money where their mouth is" and absorb these émigrés.

Even if many of the countries who always proclaim their loyalty to the ideal of saving refugees are simply hypocrites, some, at least, should be too embarrassed to refuse to participate in such a clearly humanitarian program as this one, and maybe even some countries will participate out of true dedication to the ideals of humanitarianism.

I think that I have excellent points here, and that a program built on those points could actually help these people who are fleeing from Africa, while also being good for our PR, without forcing us to absorb thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of non-Jews with whom we are not equipped to deal!

I have also composed my proposal in Hebrew, and those who prefer to read it in that language can see it at this Web address:


  1. It's a nice suggestion Catriel, but you're missing the big picture which is why these people are running away in the first place. Should the entire population of the continent of Africa empty out via Israel into the rest of the world?

    If these humanitarian nations are so interested in the welfare of these people, why is there no outcry throughout the world about the persecution, government deprivation and genocide that takes place in some African nations? The UN is silent on these types of issues, and we all know the reason for that!

    There should be efforts to improve life in Africa, rather than evacuate it. You're offering a treatment of the symptom but not a solution to the problem.

    But OK, let's treat the symptom in the meantime. Granted. So this now becomes Israel's burden to absorb millions of emigres for 6 months? Why don't these other concerned nations send transport ships, or their own Operation Flying Carpet? How about if Venezuela or Japan send over carrier ships to immediately take these emigres under their auspices and sail them to freedom? You want Israel to be a weigh-station? Fine. In a refugee camp and for no longer than a week until the next ship leaves, not 6 months.

  2. To WannaSaab:

    Indeed I am aware of the other aspects of this situation which you mention, but I feel that the most urgent, and practical, aspect of this situation is that hundreds of people are fleeing to our borders each month. So I want to build a plan that can treat this particular symptom.

    I also feel that it is our moral duty (which is also a Torah duty) to save people from dying, which is what they will be likely to do if the Egyptians send them back where they came from or if the Egyptian army shoots them.

    These people are already here "on our doorstep", so I believe that we must deal with them in a positive manner.

    It is true that none of these humanitarian countries has done a lot to improve the situation in these African countries from which the emigres are fleeing; but I still think that "treating the symptom" is more likely to be practicable than dealing with the overall situation.

    I'd be glad for the emigres to get to another country within a week, but I think that four to six months is a more practical time period to deal with getting them to a more permanent location.

    Also, while I think that Israel deserves international financial support for being a way station for the emigres even for a week, I doubt that getting that financial support is practicable; and we can also consider that expense as balancing out with the expense of trying to keep the emigres from crossing the border into our country (which is also considerable), in which we will not have to invest if we simply become a way station for them.

    So I believe that it should be possible to get nations to participate in absorption of these emigres, just as they absorbed Vietnamese refugees many years ago; and I see no other practical alternative that we could reasonably implement anyway.