Israel’s immigrant problem

Whoever thought Israel would have too many immigrants?  Israel has about 60,000 illegal African immigrants. That doesn’t seem many in a US or a British context, but in a small country like Israel it is a huge proportion of the population. Also, these African immigrants have settled mostly in Eilat, near where they cross the border from Egypt, at the rate of ca. 100 a day, and in South Tel Aviv, where they have recently become a serious crime problem. Apart from the increase in crime and prostitution there have been an increasing number of assaults. In a recent case three black men beat an Israeli couple in a car park at night in Tel Aviv and raped the girl. This and other cases led last week to riots against the blacks in S. Tel Aviv that required police intervention. This past weekend the police were present in force and there was no violence.

The Government, after ignoring the problem for several years, is now trying to solve this problem in two ways, first by deporting as many illegal aliens as they can and also by trying to cut down on their entry into the country by building a barrier along the Egyptian-Israeli border between the Sinai and Negev deserts, much like the barrier between the US and Mexico. Recently there was a shooting on the border between a special Israeli unit established to patrol the border called the Ramon unit, and a group of illegals consisting of 3 Chinese and a Beduin smuggler. Migrants are attracted to Israel because it is affluent, tolerant and is the only country that has a border with Africa. To get to Europe they have to cross dangerous seas, to get to Israel they have to cross a desert, where the Egyptian guards shoot at them and the Beduin enslave them, kill them and take their organs for trafficking. This is not to say that all immigrants are not deserving, some came from South Sudan as refugees. But, now that South Sudan is independent there is pressure for them to be returned. One solution suggested by the Chief of Police is that the immigrants be allowed to work here, that would cut down on crime. But, PM Netanyahu has rejected this approach since it would only attract more immigrants.

There was a Committee meeting in the Knesset a few days ago that considered this issue. It was very emotional, with “bleeding heart” liberals reminding everyone that Jews were once immigrants fleeing oppression. And a resident of South Tel Aviv cried out because of the situation they are in, afraid to go out a night. And several Likud MKs, including Danny Danon and Miri Regev claimed that all Western countries (UK, US, France, etc.) have the same problem and deport illegal aliens and this Government must do the same. Miri Regev was lampooned as a Nazi on a web-site and the culprits are being sought. There is no doubt that a serious issue exists in South Tel Aviv, and the Government must take steps to resolve it, including deportation of illegals. Hopefully the completion of the barrier on the border with Egypt will cut down on the infiltration of further illegals.

About the Author
Jack Cohen was born in London and has a PhD in Chemistry from Cambridge University. He moved to the US and worked at the National Cancer Inst. and then Georgetown Medical School. In 1996, he Moved to Israel and became Chief Scientist of the Sheba Medical Center. He retired in 2001 and worked as a Visiting Professor at Hebrew University Medical School for 5 years.