African Refugees

Jerusalem 28 Av, 5775

Chanoch Ne’eman (c)

The so called migrant workers issue is a challenge to Israel, which I hope we can meet better. The Africans from Eritrea and Sudan sneak into Israel. There are over 40,000 of them here. (Great work border patrol!) The government has over a thousand of them in a detention facility. Now the Supreme Court ruled that those who have been held over a year have to be let go – in Israel.

Let’s look at a few side of this and see how we can better make it a win-win situation.

The Africans are here often because their home countries are extremely dangerous. Israel, on one hand, should want to be able to help refugees. We, as Jews, know too well what it is like to not be let in anywhere when we are fleeing danger. On the other hand, we have a right and responsibility to not let our country be flooded with people, and to decide who comes in here. We are not taking in hardly any of the millions of refugees from the Syrian Civil War for example.

The Africans in the open detention facility are not allowed to work.

Now let’s be a little creative.

We have a lot of currently empty unused land in the Negev. If refugees are coming from Africa in fear of their lives. we can say to them at the now much more hermetically sealed border, “Hi, welcome to Israel. We are willing to give you temporary asylum. However, you can’t just wander around our country. (Many of them wind up in Southern Tel Aviv and other cities.) You can stay here in this closed facility we have made, where you will have to work, if you are healthy.”

These facilities can have factories and other businesses operating. Agriculture too. I am sure the people will be grateful for a chance to save their lives and earn their room and board with dignity. It would be clear that the stay is only as long as they have no other options, as long as political conditions in their native lands are such that they fear for their lives there. The camps can be run by government agency and subcontractors and the businesses participating.

This is a chance to take a problem and turn it into a humanitarian aid opportunity. It just takes a little ingenuity and confidence.

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