I’ll never understand why Israeli leaders — who annually welcome some 150,000+ migrant workers into the country from Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe — are continually trying to deport, imprison and make life difficult for a African refugees from genocide.
These Africans are not recognized yet as refugees before any authority, who are seeking that recognition as they flee horrible war in Sudan and nearby countries. They have often been trafficked into Israel, tortured and raped, and owe thousands of dollars to criminal ransomers in the Sinai Peninsula. Instead of granting them the quarter that Jews wanted and did not find in Europe or America in the 1940s, they are refused any status or work permissions, and treated as criminals.
Recently, Israel’s supreme court ruled unconstitutional a law allowing their mass arrest and incarceration. Now, the Knesset is going to pass another law that tries to flout the ruling. Instead of mass arrests and imprisonment without trial with a jail sentence of 3 years, now it will just be 1 year. The prison in the Negev will further cost the Israeli public 440 million shekels and necessary firing 560 public sector jobs.
The alternative is easy — grant them work visas just as Filipinos and Ukrainians are, grant them the same Refugee Status Determination (RSD) process as in other western countries, and work with the international community to repatriate those that Israel cannot handle itself. But until Israel offers a RSD process, no country will allow Israel to flout the international refugee system that the Jewish state itself fought to create in the 1950s.
It’s an ongoing shonde against the Netanyahu government that we would treat survivors of genocide so heartlessly. Action alert [by Right Now: Advocates for Asylum Seekers in Israel] beneath the fold.
URGENT ACTION ALERT: STOP ISRAEL’S NEW DETENTION PLAN FOR AFRICAN ASYLUM SEEKERS NOW
The Knesset is trying to pass new, equally draconian legislation by December 2. Please call, email, post on FB and Twitter to Ambassador Ron Dermer the following message. call the US Embassy’s office in DC or the Israeli Embassy in your country. Recipient contact info is below followed by a sample script.
1) Israeli Embassy to the US
Use #RonDermer to reach Ambassador Ron Dermer
Hello, my name is ____________ and I’m a member of the __________________ Jewish community.
I am calling to urge you to do what you can to put a stop to the current legislation that members of Knesset are trying to pass this week, which will create a new detention facility in the Negev desert to house over 3000 African asylum seekers. An “open” facility that calls for detainees to report three times a day is not truly an open facility. A detention facility that does not permit asylum seekers to apply for refugee status, allowing them to remain in detention indefinitely, is inhumane and contrary to the unanimous ruling by Israel’s High Court of Justice on September 16, 2013. And a detention facility run by the Israeli Prison Service is not just detention — it is prison. Treating asylum seekers as criminals is a violation of international law.
We are also unhappy to learn that 560 public sector jobs will be cut in order for Israel to raise the funds for the detention facility. Spending 440 million shekel on this project is not only inhumane for the asylum seekers, but it is also unnecessarily costly and harmful to Israel’s economy and international reputation. Why take such severe measures over a population whose numbers are not increasing, whose crime rates are low, and who merely want to live in a free and democratic society such as Israel.
I’m asking you to note the international Jewish community’s concerns about this issue and to take appropriate steps to stop this legislation, uphold the High Court’s decision, and provide asylum seekers with a full, fair, and transparent refugee status determination system. Asylum seekers deserve a fair chance at a good life, just the same as the Jewish people deserved a fair chance in the countries they ended up in worldwide as refugees and asylum seekers throughout our history.
Thank you for your time.
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