African migrants wait in line for the opening of the Population and Immigration Authority office in Bnei Brak, Israel, Feb. 4, 2018.
Before he was summoned to Holot, Israel’s open-air detention center for asylum-seekers, Gebremeskel Tsehaya, known as Gary, worked as a cook frying falafel and chopping salad at a small restaurant in Tel Aviv. Because Gary is a single Eritrean man, Israel’s government says he will soon face a choice: accept a plane ticket out of the country or go to prison. African asylum-seekers are a crucial source of labor in the kitchens of nearly every Tel Aviv eatery, and indignant restaurant owners have waged a battle with the government over its intensifying campaign to deport them.
For years, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has openly discussed his intentions to expel the roughly 40,000 African migrants currently living in Israel — a population comprised of 27,500 Eritreans, 7,900 Sudanese and 2,600 citizens of other African countries, according to Israel’s Interior Ministry. But in January, the ministry advanced its plan to deport 20,000 of the population by 2020, starting this April. Migrants began receiving early February notices proclaiming they will face indefinite imprisonment if they do not self-deport within 60 days.
Israel’s Restaurants and Bars Association said its 800-member businesses employ around 10,000 African migrant workers washing dishes, cleaning and cooking the city’s tasty fare — from Thai food to Israel’s characteristic blend of European and Mediterranean cuisine. With Israelis unwilling to fill such jobs, restaurant owners have been lobbying the government in recent months against deportation, advocating instead that they be granted residency or another more permanent status. “Without them, we can’t run our businesses, simple as that,” Shai Berman, the director of the association, told Al-Monitor. “If the chef doesn’t come to work, the restaurant can stay open. But if no one is doing the dishes, the work will stop.”
Israel is a signatory to the International Refugee Convention of 1951 and effectively recognizes the possible danger of ending Sudanese and Eritrean migrants back to their homelands, but in most of the cases, it refuses to grant refugee status for that reason alone. As of the end of 2017, according to data provided to Al-Monitor by the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority, 15,613 people had submitted requests for asylum. Just 11 have been granted refugee status, a number Israeli organization African Refugee Development Center (ARDC) cites as one of the lowest in the Western world.
Netanyahu argued that the migrants centered largely in south Tel Aviv are in Israel illegallyand arrived for economic reasons, pointing to security and safety burdens posed by this population. The government considers them “infiltrators” — a term originating in Israel’s 1954 law intending to prevent entry of Palestinian refugees.
The primary targets of deportation, said the Population and Immigration Authority, are single men who have failed to apply for asylum by January of this year or who have had applications rejected. For now, women, children, fathers and migrants with pending asylum applications will be spared. Pending applications amount to 7,437, according to data provided by the authority, and many more have not succeeded in submitting requests. The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, cites reasons for this as “lack of information, distrust in the asylum system and the fact that asylum-seeker status does not provide greater protection than what ‘infiltrators’ already enjoy,” like welfare services or exemption from mandatory detention.
Restaurant owners decry that they have been unfairly squeezed by economic levies designed to make the lives of both African migrants and their employers more burdensome. The largest blow, Berman explained, was when the High Court of Justice ruled in September that employers must pay a 20% tax on African migrant wages, as they must for other short-term foreign laborers like Filipino caretakers or Thai agricultural laborers. In a legal dispute with the state, restaurant owners had petitioned that migrants be considered Israeli residents.
In May, employers also became required to deposit 16% of African migrants’ pay into a closed account only to be given to the worker when he or she departs Israel. The workers themselves must deposit another 20% of their paycheck into this fund, significantly slashing their net pay.
“What we are saying [to the Knesset] is that the state cannot deport them and we, as the restaurant owners, are the people that fight with the asylum-seekers on our back,” said Berman. “This is [the Knesset’s] problem, not ours.”
Micha Sol, the owner of Tel Aviv restaurant Yula, suggested that he, like other restaurant owners, had no choice but to avoid paying some taxes required to employ his four Eritrean workers. “These laws have made me a criminal,” Sol told Al-Monitor. “Only new immigrants are willing to do this kind of hard work, like in other Western countries. There’s no solution in the Israeli market because we have almost no natural immigration.”
Berman said Israeli reluctance to take the jobs isn’t about wages, noting restaurant owners often pay well over Israel’s minimum wage to dishwashers. Palestinians used to work such jobs, but few have been granted permits after a wave of suicide bombings during the second intifada in the early 2000s shattered already strained social and economic ties between Israelis and Palestinians.
Working in a restaurant requires overnight permits, said Berman, for which Palestinians would have to rent rooms in the city. “There is still fear involved,” Berman said. Now the government is promising 1,500 such Palestinian permits to replace departing African migrants. “It’s a start,” said Berman. “But not a solution; 1,500 jobs don’t even begin to fill 10,000.”
Joseph Zeira, an economics professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the president of the Israeli Economics Association, argued in 2015 that African workers should be given five-year work permits and resettled in various locations around Israel until their asylum requests are processed. But now, “We’ve reached the moment of truth,” he told Al-Monitor. “They are being deported.”
He stands by his recommendation, but notes the policy’s popularity in the Israeli public. “A lot of people support deportation because there’s no clear alternative,” he said. “So we need to discuss the alternatives.”
Meanwhile, Gary said that he intends to choose prison. If he were to take the flight and the $3,500 stipend from Israel, reports widely speculate he would be sent to Rwanda. Deportation notices say he will be taken to “a safe third country … that has developed tremendously in the last decade and absorbs thousands of immigrants.”
The ARDC claims, however, that already deported migrants faced significant hardships upon arriving in their new countries in Africa, including “arbitrary arrest, demands for bribes or problems accessing the asylum process.” In a letter to Netanyahu, the Anti-Defamation League and HIAS human rights groups stressed that some migrants leaving Israel drowned at sea en route to Europe or were tortured by traffickers.
Though protests against deportation have erupted within Israel and abroad, Berman is discouraged at the limited impact the restaurant workers have had. Likewise, Gary’s boss and restaurant owner laments the looming decision facing his employee. “It makes me ashamed to be Israeli,” he said on condition of anonymity.
“I don’t want to go back to the way I came,” sighed Gary, noting many of his friends feel the same way. He is 30 and arrived in Israel in 2011 with dreams of leaving life under an oppressive regime and getting an education. “It’s a tough decision to stay in prison, but it’s worth it in order to save your life.”
Mar 13, 2018 0
Protesters rally against Turkey’s attacks on Kurds and others in Afrin, at the White House on January 26, 2018. (Shutterstock)
Armed Syrian militias allied with Turkey have reportedly been demanding that Kurdish Christians in Afrin province convert to Islam or face execution. In a video circulated by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a militia fighter described the Kurds as “infidels” and offered them a choice between converting to Islam or facing decapitation.
“By Allah, if you repent and come back to Allah, then know that you are our brothers,” said the man. “But if you refuse, then we see.”
Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
Iraqi Archbishop Bashar Warda made the following observation during a recent speech: “Having faced for 1,400 years the slow-motion genocide that began long before the ongoing ISIS genocide today, the time for excusing this inhuman behavior and its causes is long since passed.”
That Muslims have cleansed non-Muslim peoples by the sword since the seventh century to the present is of course factually well-documented. But what of the more subtle “slow-motion genocide”? How does that work? The answer is connected to another question: Why did so many non-Muslims become Muslim in the first place?
Many modern day Muslims and Western apologists claim that the ancestors of today’s 1.5 billion Muslims converted to Islam due to its intrinsic appeal; that the modern day coercion and persecution committed by the Islamic State and others is an aberration.
Conversely, many Muslim and non-Muslim historical records make clear that most people embraced Islam, not out of sincere faith, but for a myriad of reasons—from converting in order to enjoy the boons of being on the “winning team” to converting in order to evade the dooms of being on the “losing team.”
A high-ranking defense official revealed to the Senate on Tuesday that Iran has fully incorporated a Russian long-range anti-aircraft missile system into its military, seriously upgrading its ability to threaten the US and Israeli military interests in the region. But the general’s report failed to take into account divine intervention which has plagued the system in the past.
Lieutenant General Robert P. Ashley, Jr., Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday about Iran’s “generational improvement in capabilities,” according to Bloomberg News.
Despite evidence of a serious deterioration in relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel, one researcher contends that Israeli Arabs continue to show a strong link to a Jewish and democratic Israel.
Israeli Arabs protest the initial approval of a bill to enforce lowering the volume on loudspeakers broadcasting the Muslim call to prayer, Kabul, Israel, March 11, 2017.
In Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s school of morality and politics, accepting a bribe is no reason to unseat an elected premier, nor is a hostile takeover of the country’s media. He insists that a prime minister should not be replaced because of criminal indictments or guilty verdicts. According to Netanyahu, a prime minister can only be “replaced at the ballot box,” although what he means is that a prime minister can only be “replaced by Jews at the ballot box.”
March 17 marks two years since his horrible election-day video warning — “Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls” — and calling on Jews to turn out en masse. It’s hard to know how many votes he picked up for the Likud with this alarmist message, but the damage he caused to relations between Jews and Arabs is discernible.
The Palestinian security forces in Gaza are just as tough as the Israelis on the youths who try to cross the border looking for work.
Two Palestinian teenagers look at the rubble of destroyed buildings, Gaza City, Gaza, June 10, 2015.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — More Gazans are seeking to flee to Israel in search of jobs in light of the high unemployment rate and the worsening economic conditions in the coastal enclave. On Feb. 16, Palestinian security forces stopped three young Gazans from crossing into Israel through the southern Gaza Strip. Four young men were also arrested Feb. 13 and interrogated by the Ministry of the Interior.
Despite a warning from the security apparatus in Gaza back in August that any Palestinian who attempts to cross over into Israel would be arrested and imprisoned, they keep trying.
Israeli concerns are also growing about the attempts by Gazans to sneak into its territory. The Israel Defense Forces arrested four young men attempting to cross into Israel Feb. 1 and another Feb. 2.
A visit to Morocco shows that the claim
of Palestinians to a “right of return” has little historic, moral or legal basis.
Jews lived in Morocco for centuries before Islam came to Casablanca, Fez, and Marrakesh. The Jews, along with the Berbers, were the backbone of the economy and culture. Now their historic presence can be seen primarily in the hundreds of Jewish cemeteries and abandoned synagogues that are omnipresent in cities and towns throughout the Maghreb.
The Arab press has evinced an inordinate interest in the future of Binyamin Netanyahu over the past few weeks, due to the various ongoing investigations against him and against several people who held key positions in his entourage. Arab interest is motivated by hopes for the prime minister’s downfall and a resulting disintegration of Israel’s Rightist camp, leading to the Left’s assuming the leadership of the Jewish State. The Left, after all, has proven time and time again that it is willing to pay a higher price than Netanyahu for a piece of paper on which the word “peace” appears.
AIPAC’s mission to cultivate and maintain bipartisan support for Israel in the United States is an important mission. Unfortunately, the messages AIPAC’s leaders delivered during the organization’s annual policy convention this week in Washington indicate that they are at a loss for how to achieve their mission in the contentious political environment now prevalent in the post- Obama America.
You’ve undoubtedly heard that Jerusalem represents the third holiest city in Islam.
That is provably untrue.
Or, perhaps you’ve read in Wikipedia or heard on CNN that the Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest place of worship in Islam.
That, too, is a provable lie.
Or, maybe you heard about the vote by UNESCO in 2016 that denied any Israeli connection to the Temple Mount, referring it only by the Islamic name, “Haram al-Sharif.”
After weeks of outrage at the close ties between top Democrats and Louis Farrakhan, the leader of an anti-Semitic hate group, the media finally condemned anti-Semitism by a top political official.
President Trump and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney had referred to outgoing NEC Director Gary Cohn as a “globalist.” And “globalist,” according to Think Progress, the Huffington Post, Salon, and Vox, is an “anti-Semitic slur.” Those are the same media outlets that had no problem using “globalist” as a slur when targeting Trump. HuffPo had published a piece tarring him as “Trump: The Globalist Plutocrat” and Vox had described Trump going to Davos, “the world’s biggest party for globalist elites.”