Who’s Bankrolling the Campaign to Keep the Illegal Migrants in Israel?

Over the past several weeks, the Israeli public has been witness to an ostensibly spontaneous and grassroots effort protesting the Israeli government’s decision to deport illegal African migrant workers. But when taking a closer look, it is evident that this is merely another political campaign spearheaded by New Israel Fund and its grantee organizations in Israel.

For years, far-Left NGOs funded by the NIF have been systematically petitioning the Israeli Supreme Court against every government attempt to solve the illegal migrant issue. But now that the court has upheld the government’s plan to deport the migrants to a third-party country, the NIF and its grantees have shifted their efforts to creating the illusion of a large public opposition to the government’s policy.

This tactic is but a manifestation of the overall strategy of the NIF, whose president Talia Sasson plainly stated in a 2016 interview with The Independent that “today the NGOs are the real opposition in Israel.”

It is for this reason that NIF grantees including Rabbis for Human Rights, Physicians for Human Rights Israel, Zazim, Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Israel Social TV and Kav LaOved have launched dozens of widely-publicized petitions, reports, protests and other efforts to undermine the elected government and to falsely portray the illegal migrants as refugees.

In total, organizations working to oppose government policy vis-à-vis the migrants have received over $14 million from the NIF over the past several years. This includes organizations like the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, African Refugee Development Center and ASSAF, whose existence is dependent on the preservation of the migrants in Israel.

The most pernicious aspect of this political campaign, however, is the conflation of the illegal migrants to Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis. This morally reprehensible comparison has been promoted by the NIF itself, which uploaded a Facebook post equating illegal migrants to the Jewish refugees aboard the famed SS Exodus, and by Rabbis for Human Rights that launched an “Anne Frank-inspired” initiative to hide the migrants.

The inference is clear: if the migrants are the Jewish refugees from the Holocaust, then Israel must be Nazi Germany.

This morally depraved and offensive tactic is being used to peddle the lie that the illegal migrants are refugees fleeing persecution, an assertion that has been unequivocally repudiated by Israel’s Supreme Court after thorough examination.

The fact is, these are economic migrants who have entered Israel illegally to earn more money. It is for this reason that 70% of all the migrants have not even submitted a request for asylum with the Israeli authorities, and why some 80% of the migrants are men in prime working age.

Even former Chief Rabbi of Israel Yisrael Meir Lau – himself a Holocaust survivor – told in a Channel 2 interview how after meeting with migrants he learned that their motivation is purely economic.

This campaign is also propagating the lie that Rwanda and Uganda, the countries that the migrants will reportedly be deported to (after receiving a free plane ticket and $3,500 courtesy of the Israeli taxpayer), is unsafe.

The truth is, however, that even the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, financially encourages Rwandan expatriates to return and boasts on their website that Rwanda is now “one of the safest countries in Africa.” And just last week the UNHCR High Commissioner extolled Uganda for having one of the most “progressive refugee policies in Africa, if not the world.”

But why let the facts get in the way of propaganda aimed at undermining the elected Israeli government?

It is understandable and even commendable that people wish to create better lives for themselves in a foreign country, but it is immoral when it is done illegally and to the detriment of the country’s citizens.

In addition to the 500 million shekels siphoned annually from the Israeli taxpayer to support the illegal migrants, their presence in South Tel-Aviv has made life unbearable for the residents who now face an abundance of crime, violence and drugs in their neighborhood.

The Jewish People will and should always have a soft spot in their hearts for refugees, and it is for that reason that the NIF and its grantees are cynically using the refugee lie to pull at the heartstrings of Jews in Israel and around the world.

It is therefore critical for the public to understand and spurn this deceptive political campaign orchestrated by a wolf in sheep’s clothing, whose goal is to create, as its name shamelessly suggests, a “New Israel.”

The writer is the Director of External Relations and Development for Im Tirtzu


About the Author
Eytan Meir is the Director of External Relations and Development for Im Tirtzu