Analyst warns Knesset of mass ‘Muslim aliya’

Syrians, Egyptians and Yemenites facing persecution at home might try to migrate to Israel en masse, political commentator Daniel Pipes says.

By GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER
March 15, 2012 03:08
2 minute read.
Sinai border fence

Sinai border fence 370. (photo credit: Reuters/ BAZ RATNER)

 
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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 “completely unsubstantiated.”

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 opportunities.

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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.

Particularly, 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 website says.



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 committee.

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 scale.”

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 unsubstantiated.”

“It doesn’t seem to be based on anything,” he said.

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