Sunday, September 4, 2011

Israel's Australian Solution

Breaking through the Great Fire Wall of self-censorship ringing the ABC, comes this rarest of insights* into the racist ideology and legislation that underpins Israeli apartheid: Israeli politician pushes to offload refugees, 7pm ABCTV news 3/7/11:

"An Israeli politician is calling on Australia to take the country's African refugees. Danny Danon says the arrival of thousands of Muslim and Christian refugees is a threat to the state's Jewish identity and he says they'd have a better life in countries like Australia. ABC Middle East correspondent Ben Knight reports:

BK: Each year thousands of Muslim and Christian refugees walk into Israel from Eritrea and Sudan seeking asylum. Many of them end up here in south Tel Aviv. Now a member of Israel's right-wing Likud Party wants them to keep moving: 'Israel is a very small country. We have a lot of security expenses'.
BK: Danny Dannon wants the Australian government to include them in its annual refugee quota and take them off Israel's hands.
DD: We know that every year thousands of people are being accepted by Canada, Australia and other strong Western societies.
BK: It's certainly an unusual idea. Some Israelis though are appalled by it: 'It's verging on racism'.
BK: Yael Dayan is a member of the Tel Aviv City Council with the portfolio for refugees.
YD: It's not his business really to send them to either Australia or Canada. It's his business to take care of Israeli commitments having signed the refugee covenant [sic].
BK: There are around 20,000 Eritrean and 6,000 Sudanese refugees currently in Israel. It's not many in a country of 7.5 million but this is a country with an immigration policy that's unique in the world. Under Israel's Law of Return any Jew anywhere in the world has the right to migrate to this country and each year thousands do, particulatly from Ethiopia, and Israel spends millions of dollars helping them.
DD: Israel is a Jewish state and the only Jewish state. You have 22 Arab countries. You have lots of spaces for other people to live. We have to invest in the Jews who want to come to Israel.
BK: And that he says is Israel's unashamed priority."

Legal eagles out there might benefit from the following more technical rendering of Israel's "unique" immigration policy by Israeli academics, Tally Kritzman-Amir and Yonotan Berman (Responsibility sharing & the rights of refugees: The case of Israel, The George Washington International Law Review, 6/1/11):

"While Israel has been a signatory to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees for many decades (since 1951) the Israeli asylum system only started functioning in 2002. Most of the asylum seekers were coming from relatively nearby African countries such as Sudan, Eritrea and Ivory Coast. Of these asylum seekers, most have crossed one or more intermediate states to get to Israel. In other words, since 2005, Israel has started to shoulder the burden of the refugee problems resulting from the turbulences in the region in which it is located.

"To understand Israel's policy towards asylum seekers, one must evaluate it in light of the state's general immigration regime. As a Jewish democratic state, Israel's immigration and citizenship regime is based on a Jewish/other distinction. Israel has jus sanguinis ('according to blood') citizenship norms, which display a significant preference for providing citizenship to Jews and their relatives. Israel's immigration policy, therefore, almost exclusively allows for the immigration of Jews and their relatives to Israel. The few exceptions to this rule are typically made for workers, migrating for employment, a process that is heavily governed and restricted by a guest-worker program. Conversely, different policies provide the Israeli government with the power to annul the status of Palestinian residents as well as to deny immigration requests by Palestinians and citizens of several other Arab countries almost categorically.

"The recently developed asylum system in Israel follows the same norms central to Israel's citizenship and immigration process. As the statistical information makes obvious, Israel has long demonstrated a general reluctance to grant refugees protection. To maintain this policy, Israel has resorted to complementary protection mechanisms to the refugee convention such as (formal or informal) temporary protection. Additionally, Israel has made it difficult for asylum seekers to live within the nation after entering. Asylum seekers have been, to a large extent, denied access to the Israeli welfare state; many have also been prohibited from staying or working within the country's urban centres. Furthermore, Israel has chosen to interpret its obligation to accept immigrants restrictively. Having adopted a narrow reading of Article 1(D) of the Refugee Convention, Israel has determined that all Palestinians are ineligible to be given asylum (forcing Palestinians either to stay in the Palestinian territories or to seek asylum in other countries, mostly the neighboring Egypt, Lebanon or Jordan)."

Got the picture? If you're black, get back; if you're Palestinian, piss off. Unless of course you've got a Jewish mummy, which, face it, not many Africans or Palestinians have handy.

Of course, it's not as if the idea of shipping Israel's rejects off to Australia sprang fully-formed from Danon's brain. No, we've been there before, 2001 to be exact. Here's the ABC TV's 7.30 Report of 2/4/2001:

Kerry O'Brien: "Now to the fuss over [Howard government] Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock's decision to accept up to 200 people associated with the South Lebanese Army, or SLA, into Australia. The SLA was a militia force comprising mostly Maronite Christians sponsored and trained by Israel to police Israel's security zone in occupied southern Lebanon. But international watchdogs have accused the SLA of committing numerous human rights abuses against Palestinians and Lebanese civilians. The SLA members fled across the border to Israel when the Israelis withdrew from Lebanon without warning 10 months ago and are too afraid to return to their homeland. Israel has asked other countries to accept the refugees. But, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, which has obtained documents on the issue, apart from Germany, only Australia has agreed, a move that has triggered an angry reaction from various ethnic groups in the Arabic community." (Controversy over Ruddock's acceptance of Lebanese militiamen)

So, even if you've murdered and tortured for Israel, so long as you've entered this world from a non-Jewish womb, there's no place for you in the Jewish state. But fear not - Israel has a fond and foolish friend downunder.

[* In fact this is the only reference I've ever come across in the Australian ms media to Israel's bedrock apartheid Law of Return.]

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