The Happy Arab News Service

Friday, April 27, 2007

Compassion that Lost Its Mind

Amnon Rubinshtein made another stance for the Sudanese refugees in the Jerusalem Post. The readers refused to be impressed though and as one of them wrote to the author:

Compassion without wisdom always leads to unwelcome conclusions. For Israel to open the door to islamic refugees is not only compassion without wisdom, it is compassion that has lost its mind.

A small number of refugees penetrated Israel via Egypt, some possibly smuggled into the country by Bedouin gangs operating across the border. The Bedouins regularly camel into Israel drugs, weapons and prostitutes from Eastern Europe for Tel Aviv massage parlors. A few years ago the Bedouins have also channeled into Israel an unknown number of foreign workers and, in general, it appears that human trafficking has turned into a lucrative business in Negev. Three years ago an illegal worker from Moldova admitted to 'Nobody' that he and members of his group paid a few hundreds dollars each to Bedouin smugglers and those did not disappoint. The guy later gave himself away to the authorities after their shelter in Jerusalem was raided twice by immigration police.

Anyway, dozens of refugees are sitting in detention centers now, but they refuse to be deported back claiming that life in Israel's jails is ways better than freedom in Egypt. And probably they could continue sitting there indefinitely but human rights groups started campaigning for their rights forcing the government to make a tough choice between providing the refugees with some kind of temporary residency status and deporting them back. The government is busy right now setting up new settlements to bring more haredi population to Negev in a possibly vain attempt to strengthen Jewish presence where nomadic demographics and growing lawlessness are threatening to get out of control. In this situation one is just tempted to suggest that integrating African Muslims is not high on the government's agenda these days.

In fact, Israel's government may be much more preoccupied with the demographics than ordinary Israelis imagine:

On 15th October 2001, Ariel Sharon summoned Haifa University geographer Arnon Soffer to the prime minister's office to discuss his recently published findings on Israel's demographic future. Given the higher Palestinian birth rate, Professor Soffer had predicted that by the year 2020, only 42% of those living in Israel and the administered territories would be Jewish, a figure which U.S Population Reference Bureau forecasts have since supported. According to Soffer, only a complete evacuation of the Gaza Strip, a withdrawal from most of the West Bank and the transfer to PA control of predominantly Arab-populated areas within Israel's pre-1967 borders such as the northern Triangle region would ensure a continued Jewish majority and the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.

Two and a half years later, the seeds sown in that meeting have borne fruit. Just three weeks after he told a press briefing for foreign journalists in Jerusalem that he did not believe the burgeoning Palestinian population posed "any demographic dangers," Prime Minister Sharon disclosed to Haaretz and Maariv respectively that he had ordered the effective evacuation of Gaza and requested an analysis of the legal implications of a cession of Israeli Arab towns, such as Umm el-Fahm, to a future Palestinian state.

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By Sean Gannon February 19, 2004


Another complication is that a few weeks ago Ehud Olmert publicly refused to consider the possibility of bringing any number of Palestinian refugees into Israel proper and in fact he went so far with this that he even criticized his predecessors who played with this idea during Oslo (At one point Israel offered the Palestinians to let in a few dozens of thousands of refugees as a symbolic gesture of goodwill). Probably like many other well intentioned individuals, Olmert too would just love to have in this country a small farm of domesticated Hebrew speaking Sudanese pets, a nice supplement to the YadWaShem demonstrating how this country is just one big light upon other nations. Yet unlike other well intentioned Israelis Olmert also has to show up here and there to explain to the world the position of Israel on the issue of Palestinian refugees and the cognitive dissonance is just too obvious for the idea of such a farm to become practical.

Strangely and in shart contrast to the lunacy massively ruling the Israeli blogsphere, the commenters of the Jerusalem post did not find the whole idea of naturalizing Sudanese refugees very fancy. There may be one thousands and one reasons for this. Some of Rubinshtein's argumentation plainly sucks:

But what if we are inundated with refugees from Sudan? you may ask. The answer is that at this point we are not talking about a mass immigration, and the duty we have is absolute. However, should the numbers increase to levels we can no longer deal with, Israel would have to foster an international arrangement to distribute the burden of absorption among a number of different countries.

Probably Israeli readers of the Jerusalem post were not born yesterday and even some of its readers from Diaspora got the idea of how efficient the Israeli bureaucracy is, to trust its judgement on such an important issue as defining at which levels this country can no longer manage this Muslim immigration.

Neither talks about granting only temporary status can satisfy anybody here apart from hardcore humanists. Israelis know their media all too well for not to know that in a few years the media will put them under a full scale assault of pictures and interviews with Sudanese refugees who will be, with tears in their eyes, pledging their love for Israel (and its welfare system) and begging to be allowed to stay.

And of course Holocaust also came up at one point. There can be no political and social discourse in Israel that will not, sooner or later, bring the memories of the Holocaust somehow. Just as all roads lead to Rome ... and so:

ISRAEL IS no ordinary state. It is a Jewish state. That is not a figure of speech: We remember how the gates of freedom were closed to our parents and grandparents; we remember the White Paper, which served as a death sentence to many tens of thousands of our people; we remember the Evian Conference, which convened on the eve of the Holocaust and officially resolved to do nothing for the Jewish refugees; we remember the fate of the Saint Louis, the ship filled with Jewish refugees fleeing from the Nazis that the United States sent back to Germany just a few weeks before the extermination was to begin.


That Holocaust was a terrible event in the history of Jews that's sure. It set the Jews back by centuries. Even many young Israelis seem to be in a full paranoia from the whole thing, as if it happened only yesterday. It traumatized this nation to the point that a few generations should pass before it would become possible to talk about real recovery. It is the lessons of the Holocaust that are disputed.

As Rubinshtein admits himself Jewish refugees were all too often turned back. What followed since then does not inspire more trust in the goodwill of humanity as this nation spent its modern history as a semi pariah state. Almost every week another European association from Irish men of arts to British journalists is debating boycotting its Israeli colleagues. Under these conditions the most important lesson of the Holocaust in the eyes of the majority of this nation is that humanity is short on goodwill and understanding towards Jews/Israel. And another important lesson is that mistakes are costly and risky and when shit hits the fan for the Jews, they have only themselves to rely on.

Maybe if the rest of the world would have demonstrated more understanding towards a tiny nation locked in a vicious conflict with the one billion strong Arab/Muslim civilization, things would have looked different today. But this was not the case at all and given Israel's own demographic plight tough measures may be required in the future such as unilateral fencing off some parts of the country populated by Arabs. Most Israelis don't even fancy finding understanding with the world on this issue. They sure don't fancy to exacerbate the situation by creating for themselves more problems where theoretically they were supposed to have none.

The plight of African Muslims whether in Sudan or elsewhere is not Israel's problem. Sure the small 'apartheid' state is bound to have many problems, but this should not be one of them. On this issue many Israelis would stick to the main lesson of the Holocaust - too many mistakes and excessive trust in the goodwill of humanity can be deadly. Too deadly. Probably one can find many reasons for granting the Sudanese refugees asylum in Israel, but the Holocaust is not one of them.

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