You might have heard about the current issue around the deportation of African immigrants in Israel which is currently being debated by the United Nations and the Israeli government. These immigrants who are also asylum seekers are about to be deported back to their countries of origin ,namely, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti because they do not meet the “right” characteristics that allow them to legally stay on Israeli soil.
Many of these immigrants have been in Israel for years while some are new to the country and might be enjoying a soon-to-end stay. The Israeli government has been criticized by the international community and by Israeli citizens themselves over the unequal treatment Israel is exercising over these immigrants and its discrimination based on race and religion. The United Nations has urged Israel to find a solution for this situation and has collaborated with the Israeli government to finally find a recourse that might save the lives of these asylum seekers, only to be revoked by the Israeli PM after Right-wing Push back.
For those of you who don’t understand what makes it crucial for these asylum seekers to find a safe haven in Israel, here’s a short list of the atrocities and hardships some of these migrants face if they go back to their home countries:
- Unfair prosecution leading to imprisonment or execution
- Imprisonment or torture of their families and relatives
- Hunger, malnourishment, disease, drought, and extreme poverty
- No home to go back to
Now, what makes a country decide to deport migrants who had been living there for years?
The answer is that when a nation decides to make some changes to its demographic fabric, it usually targets those who are not legal citizens. That gives it legitimacy to perform its actions with the least amount of criticism and international prosecution.
The argument that Benjamin Netanyahu had used a couple of months ago when asked about African immigrants is that “Israel needs to preserve its Jewish character”. However, this argument is faded, it makes no sense at all if we talk about what makes a society worth protecting. In fact, it is no less preposterous than holding an explicit xenophobic and racist view.
If we follow the same reasoning we might as well say that any migration will change the religious character of any nation. Does the migration of Israelis into the United States threatens “American Christianity”? Now some might argue that migration is the biggest reason behind the spread of many religions. But so is culture, and so is language, and cuisine, and traditions and customs, trade and commerce, medicine and science. Nothing is homemade, everything has been imported, and exported. There is no such a thing as a prosperous and developed nation that does not and did not rely on migration. This phenomenon that has existed since hundreds of thousands of years ago has simply become inevitable, not only that but also vital.
It’s true that nations also have sovereignty, legality, and homeland systems that regulate their internal and external relations and duties, but it doesn’t mean we should live in isolationism. We have two nations living in complete siege today (at least the most well known on a global scale) These two nations are the Democratic Republic of North Korea and Gaza. North Koreans are sentenced to a life-long worship of a merciless insane dictator called Kim Jong-un, who has been ruling over North Korea since 2011. He has killed his own uncle, executed the Education Minister, and every other day threatens the United States or the UK with missiles that his scientists were forced to engineer.
Gaza, on the other hand is a very different situation, but just as isolated. The unjust and discriminatory ruling powers that ensures that are the state of Israel and Hamas. Gazans live in a 140.9 mi² piece of land, the size of Berlin, and have no access to the outside world. They cannot travel outside of Gaza, receive visitors, they have a few hours of electricity a day, sometimes no clean water, and every now and then a few civilians would be shot to death or killed in a bomb attack dropped by the IDF. Now I won’t go through the details but Israel claims that the whole thing is no more than Israelis defending themselves from Palestinian terrorists and from Hamas, the ruling power that took over Gaza in 2007.
This illustrates to which extent governments are willing to reduce people’s liberties and human rights on the expense of their economic growth, political advancement, social engineering, and “preservation of their character”, not to mention the extremist ideologies and absurd views of their leaders. If only we can put ourselves in the shoes of these African asylum seekers, or oppressed North Korean citizens, or persecuted Gazan civilians, maybe we will then understand that we can not live without the human obligation to stand up for all people, and say no to any violation or restrictions of human rights.