We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
As in so many other cases, international media usually seeks out and features negative news about Israel or exaggerates it or treats it in a biased manner. So, too, on this issue.There is a natural, and commendable, empathy for peoples in dire straits or whose experience, by large stretches of analogy, may be compared to other groups, like Hispanics or Blacks in the US, but that alone does not merit the one-sided coverage of this issue and the lack of facts and context.That lack of context and partial facts has been the case with most of the reporting about African illegal immigrants in Israel.
As in the US, it is difficult to count the number of illegal immigrants, so hard numbers of illegal African immigrants in Israel are estimates.According to Wikipedia, there were about 26-thousand in July 2010 and 55-thousand in January 2012. Estimates of new arrivals are about 1-thousand a month, which would bring the June 2012 number to over 60-thousand.Two-thirds are estimated to be in south Tel Aviv and another 20% in the resort city of Eilat. Some other estimates of illegal African immigrants in Israel are higher. This is a lower percentage of illegal immigrants than in the US, but Israel should not wait until it is as large a problem as here. There are also about 150,000 Black Ethiopian Jews in Israel. Black Ethiopian Jews were brought in by Israel.
As in the US, there is certainly racism against Blacks within Israel.There is also acceptance and substantial aid within Israel, as in the US for its illegal immigrants.
As in the US, the primary issues, however, revolve around culture and poverty among most illegal immigrants. The illegal Africans are not Jewish nor do they have common culture in most other respects. Nonetheless, Black African Christians in Israel have established churches as religious and community centers, while Christians and their churches are attacked by Moslems in other countries.As in the US, poor and uneducated illegal immigrants are a significant drain on the state’s resources.
Although claims of extraordinary crime rates among illegal African immigrants are overstated, it is a rising problem and, as elsewhere in the world, often targeted at each other.
In a civil rights oriented Israel, efforts to form a united front among people of color within Israel are in its initial steps, but there are deep divisions between those of lighter and darker coloration, between Moslems, Christians and Jews, between countries of origin, etc.
Israel honors the highest international standards regarding illegal immigrants. Only those from Eritrea, the majority of the Black illegal immigrants, are eligible under the UN Convention Relating To The Status Of Refugees, due to the unsafe conditions there. Others may be deported, but neither their countries of origin nor Egypt, across whose Sinai border with Israel they come, are willing to take them.
Israel issues 3-month at a time temporary residence permits to most Black illegal immigrants, which also allows them to have employment and housing. That isn’t the case in the US.
As elsewhere, most of the illegal immigrants are economic refugees, seeking a better life in Israel, compared to their countries of origin or the countries they pass through on their way to Israel. Bedouin smugglers aid their crossing the Israeli border, and many remain deeply in debt for their passage.
Holding camps capable of housing several thousand Black illegal immigrants are being built by the Israeli government.
For security purposes, Israel is in the process of erecting barriers along the Sinai border, which may also help reduce the number of future illegal immigration.
France, Spain and Italy have a colonial involvement with North Africa and elsewhere, from which their large illegal immigrant population comes and many go on to elsewhere in the open-border European Union, creating political, safety and economic concerns. Israel does not have any such “responsibility” for the countries from which the Black illegal immigrants come.
This is a thorny problem for Israel, not improved by misleading reports.
Two details from an attorney who worked for the UN in Israel.
His job was to interview Africans who claimed fear of death should they return to their countries.
1. Most were in Israel for economic reasons, to make a living. They had manufactured stories of danger, which they had memorized. But, they knew that they could stay in Israel for at least one year while the stores were adjudicated. During this time, they could earn money and send this to their families.
2. Al Queda/Hamas learned quickly that they could send recruits under the guise of "immigrants." These were few in number but very dangerous suicide bombers.
Also, the African immigrants I spoke to told of how badly they were treated in Egypt and preferred living in Israel. How the Israeli soldiers greeted them with a warm Welcome to Israel.