Israel might face a flood of Muslim migrants from neighboring countries if
conditions there worsen, a political analyst told a Knesset committee on
Wednesday, though one expert later dismissed the theory saying it was
American historian and political
commentator Daniel Pipes told the Immigration Absorption and Diaspora Affairs
Committee that Syrians, Egyptians and Yemenites facing persecution at home might
try to migrate to Israel en masse in search of political asylum and better job
Pipes, who is also a columnist for The Jerusalem Post,
painted a grim picture of the economic and political outlook in those countries
in the wake of the Arab Spring.
Their citizens might look for greener
pastures in Israel in a way similar to the infiltration of tens of thousands of
sub- Saharan Africans to the country over the past few years, giving rise to a
“Muslim aliya,” he said.
“There could be a new era.
the Sinai and Golan areas may see an immigration very different than what it’s
seen,” he said.
Pipes is an academic and the founder of Campus Watch, a
pro-Israel think tank, who writes about “radical Islam and the Middle East,” his
In January, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz said
Israel was preparing to absorb Alawites – members of the religious minority
which Syrian President Bashar Assad belongs to and that has dominated politics
in that country for decades – if the regime is toppled.
“We are preparing
to take in Alawite refugees in the Golan Heights,” Gantz told a Knesset
But Shlomo Brom, a senior research fellow and director at the
Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, rejected Pipes’s
forecast, saying such a migration, if it were to take place, is unlikely to
amount to more than a trickle.
“That a few Syrian refugees might come
here in small numbers might happen – we saw that during Black September,” he
said, referring to a few dozen Palestinian gunmen in 1970 who sought refuge in
Israel – their avowed enemy – rather than be captured by Jordanian forces during
a crackdown. “But if anything like that happens it will be on a very small
Brom said the potential for a mass migration of Muslims from
places as far away as Yemen, who would have to travel over 1,600 kilometers and
risk being shot at the border to reach Israel, was “completely
“It doesn’t seem to be based on anything,” he said.