It began as a trickle, a few each month starting a few years back. Most Israelis were sympathetic to the immigrant refugees fleeing southern Sudan and the literal apartheid killing that was taking place. Then there came a new wave including refugees from Eritrea and Somalia. Again these refugees were received with little complaint. The trickle slowly increased to a flow coming across the relatively unguarded and fence free Egyptian border. About the time the flow had become a torrent the problems began to rear the ugly side of these illegal immigrants. The crime wave struck initially in the southernmost city of Eilat where many of the refugees drifted in search of water. Crossing Egypt and the Sinai makes one very thirsty. Soon the torrent had grown into waves after waves and the flood of illegal immigrants now had overflowed from Eilat and began to gather in other cities with a particularly large number taking refuge in southern Tel Aviv. Wherever these illegal immigrants gathered crime increased along with numerous other problems associated with having numerous homeless people living in the streets. With most of the refugees not able to find work, they could be found on street corners, lounging in the bus terminal and often making trouble either out of boredom or due to panhandling for money and even robbing and stealing property from people on the beaches or from stores and stalls in shopping areas. But the illegal immigrants were not the entire problem; there were those whose sympathies were with the illegal immigrants.
Those who lived in the lower middle class and poorer neighborhoods in Tel Aviv and the other cities where the illegal immigrants gathered began to complain and demand for police and the government to do something to alleviate their plight. They simply wanted the laws of the land enforced. That is where the real problem began. While the working class and elderly Israelis who resided in the neighborhoods were being overrun by refugees and a degree of lawlessness that grew in proportion to the numbers of illegals, they petitioned the Knesset and the police to take actions. This was when those who have infinite sympathy for the illegals but no sympathy for their fellow countrymen took up the plight of the illegal refugees supplying them with legal assistance and took steps to delay or prevent their deportation claiming that they would be in danger if returned to their homelands. With the formation of the new country South Sudan, this was no longer the case for those early refugees who had fled the murderous events that plagued their half of the Sudan. This was not particularly true of those who came from Eritrea and was no more valid an argument for those from Somalia than it might be for anybody from that troubled country. Still, these facts meant nothing to the liberal elite who now had a cause and some downtrodden people to save from the ravages of those who were persecuting them.
The depth of the North Tel Aviv elites compassion was given full display last summer when a number of Ministers of the Knesset fighting for the rights of the Israeli citizens to regain their neighborhoods which had the misfortune of being located in the not so elite South Tel Aviv took over one hundred of the illegal refugees and their children to go swimming at an exclusive members only pool in North Tel Aviv. The MKs had purchased visitor passes for every refugee which silenced the initial complaint implemented to try and deny them entrance. Then they were to be denied entry since they did not have proper swimming gear. Not so fast, the MKs had brought sufficient bathing suits for all. Out of excuses, they allowed the immigrants into the pool for an afternoon of water fun and rubbing elbows with the Tel Aviv elite. Well, they would have rubbed elbows with the Tel Aviv elite if almost all of them had not fled the area as soon as it became obvious these people were going to be allowed to enter. So much for their acceptance. Guess the north Tel Aviv liberal elite only love the illegal immigrants as long as they are in somebody else’s neighborhood. You can read all about this blessed, and wonderfully inspired event with these two articles; MK Ben Ari Brings Sudanese to Posh Pool and Operation ‘Welcome Sudanese’ Begins in TA.
Unfortunately, this problem continues to grow as the numbers of illegals continues to rise. The problem has reached epidemic levels and even the leftists have reached the point where they can no longer ignore reality in order to chase a cause simply for feeling their better than the rest of us. Prime Minister Netanyahu has visited a number of African countries to arrange the return of their citizens with little to show for his efforts. Thus far whatever government there is in Somalia has refused to accept any responsibility or even to recognize that any refugees are even from Somalia and flatly refuse to cooperate. Eritrea has not been measurably more cooperative though it is rumored they were at least slightly more polite in their refusal. The nascent country of South Sudan has taken an official position that as a newly established country which is still having border difficulties with its neighbor, Sudan, have officially requested Israel assist by accepting their refugees as a gift from and for South Sudan. They claim they really would be hard pressed to receive any of their refugee citizens back into the population at this time and it would be really swell if Israel would just keep them a while longer. You can read and watch a video of the South Sudanese Agriculture Minister Betty Ogwar presenting the case stating, “When Israel talks about Sudanese, it is talking about all of them – from Sudan and South Sudan. Israel should support all of the Sudanese. They came because they were afraid and came for a better life.” It is all in an article titled South Sudan Asks Israel to Keep Infiltrators.
This problem is not going to be easily settled and it does pain many Israelis that repatriating these illegal refugees back to their countries of origin has become necessary. Initially, Israel had been willing to accept some refugees, especially from the south of Sudan while the massacres were still a daily occurrence. But peace has been reached and they now have their own country and their lives are not threatened should they return. Just because the South Sudan would rather not take them back and wishes to have Israel care for their people is no reason to actually keep them in Israel. Israel plans on having a fence system in place by late summer and I can already hear the cries of a new Apartheid Fence on the Egyptian border that is victimizing poor Africans. Needless to say, the world while complaining about the Israeli fence will be ignoring how the Egyptians deal with these refugees. The Egyptians and their Sinai tribes simply murder them when they catch them or sometimes retain the women for reasons I would rather not talk about. But it will be the Israeli fence that is evil. Some days you come to realize that you’re simply not going to get a break.
Israel is taking the initial first step towards solving this difficult situation as the State Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday that it would be asking for the courts to remove their temporary order disallowing incarceration and repatriation of the illegal immigrants who originated in the parts of the Sudan which now make up the new country of South Sudan. Once the legal hurdle is cleared I actually do hope that a humane method which allows for respect and proper care to be given the refugees while preparing them for repatriation. Let us assure their last memories of Israel are of a compassionate and fair people and not of a spiteful place where they were treated harshly as they cooperated with authorities. If any of the illegal immigrants do resist or attempt to avoid legal deportation, then a firm hand may be necessitated, but not necessarily a cruel hand. We can demand respect for Israel while showing respect for these people, while enforcing our laws.
Beyond the Cusp