We stand in solidarity with African refugees in Israel
Jewish Voice for Peace stands in solidarity with the tens of thousands of African refugees in Israel, who have been organizing, marching, protesting, striking, and demanding their rights. We also stand with the many Israelis who honor and remember the terrible history of the Jewish people in the twentieth century by recognizing the rights of today's refugees.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” And yet, Israeli authorities refuse to even consider their claims, calling them instead “infiltrators” and creating an environment of incitement that has led to violent racist attacks (see also here.)
Rather than reviewing their asylum claims, Israel has a policy of “voluntary deportations” in which they are forcibly delivered to the embassies of the countries they came from and subsequently deported. This practice must stop. In any case, it cannot be implemented regarding the over 50,000 refugees from North Sudan and Eritrea since Israel has no diplomatic relations with those countries. These refugees are sent to the Holot detention facility, where according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, they face “indefinite detention, with no release grounds.”
By way of comparison, while Israel denies the right of these refugees to apply for asylum, in other countries Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers have a 70 percent and 50 percent asylum acceptance rate respectively.
Israel must meet its obligations under international law and consider all refugee claims in a fair and transparent manner. Unfortunately African and Palestinian refugees, by virtue of not being Jewish, are not granted the full measure of their human rights in a state that defines its Jewish character as possession of a Jewish demographic majority at all costs.
The United States fashions itself a nation of immigrants. It should lead by example and grant expedited legalization to the millions of undocumented immigrants living and working in our communities.
African refugees protesting in Tel-Aviv. They need asylum, not detention.
Israeli Jew expressing solidarity. The sign reads: December 2013, In the name of my parents, refugees 1939-1946.