Friday, August 30, 2013

Ethiopians and Black Africans in Israel

The front page of The Jerusalem Post on Thurs had two articles side-by-side. The first headline was "Govt. celebrates 'end' of Ethiopian aliya with arrival of 450 immigrants". The second headline was "Jerusalem finalizes plans to deport African migrants." What a juxtaposition.

The first article tells the story of the 20 year struggle to bring all of the Ethiopian Jews to Israel. This has taken place in spurts and starts because of the indecision of various Israeli Governments. It took place in two overall phases, the bringing in of the practicing Jews to Israel and then the Falash Mura, Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity over about 100 years. Since many of the two groups were related it was relatively easy to identify the first group of Falash Mura, but more recently there have been some problems. However, the Jewish Agency now claims that all 7,000 of those who could be identified have been repatriated to Israel. The willingness of the Israeli Government and people to accept the Ethiopian Jews indicates clearly that there is no racial apartheid in Israel. Any visitor can see this anywhere in the country, where the black Ethiopians are integrated in all activities of life.

Similarly Black Africans, mostly Sudanese and Eritreans, who have immigrated illegally into the country have been treated well and many have been allowed to work here. But, since they are almost all illegal immigrants, they have no rights, and many of them are being deported back to their country of origin or elsewhere. That is excluding those who have claimed asylum or whose country is engulfed in war or repression. Thus, the South Sudanese were allowed to stay for many years, but since South Sudan is now a recognized country, they have been repatriated there with a nice financial package (I believe consisting of $8,000 each). Some Israelis are upset that the Government is deporting many Black Africans, but in fact the Govt. has every right to do that. Since some won't go back to their country of origin for various reasons, they are being deported to a third coutnry, probably7 Uganda, that has agreed to take them.

There are estimated to be ca. 55,000 Black Africans in Israel, mostly in South Tel Aviv, where the crime rate and violence has escalated greatly, By building a fence along the Egyptian-Israeli border (just as the US has done along the Mexican border) this has reduced illegal immigration to a trickle. The Govt. has done what was necessary to resolve these two problems.


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