MembersRefugees, or Economic Migrants?

It seems that one need only mention the concept of “refugees” in order to publicly shame Israel on the international stage.

By Aviel Schneider |
Photo: Flash90

And it doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about Palestinian or African refugees. In either case, Israel is automatically the villain. Refugees generate sympathy; Israel, on the other hand, is associated with power. From this perspective, Israel has virtually no chance of communicating its position convincingly.

I n recent weeks, the Knesset has been hotly debating the deportation of African migrants. Left and right have been trying to push their own definition of these migrants, most of whom came from Eritrea and Sudan. Are they refugees, asylum-seekers, or just folks looking for a job? “Israel is not the employment office for the African continent,” insisted Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, clearly indicating on which side of the argument she falls.

When Israel completed its fence along the Egyptian border in 2013, it succeeded in curtailing the massive influx of migrants from Africa. Up until that point, government sources estimated that about 65,000 Africans had entered the country illegally via the Sinai Peninsula. The Israel Population and Immigration Authority informed us that in recent years some 25,000 African migrants had left...

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