The week of the economic migrant

You are welcome to continue calling them refugees or asylum-seekers. Those terms sound great, but they are really just economic migrants. Period.

African migrants at Lewinsky Park in Tel Aviv, January 9, 2014. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post))
African migrants at Lewinsky Park in Tel Aviv, January 9, 2014.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post))
Last week was the week of economic migrants.
You are welcome to continue calling them refugees or asylum-seekers. Those terms sound great, but they are really just economic migrants. Period.
When refugees flee their homelands, they bring their wives and children along with them. Ninety percent of the infiltrators here in Israel are men. The women are also starting to trickle in, bit by bit, but in very small numbers.
We’re talking about men between the ages of 24-45 – the working years.
All of the African migrants I’ve spoken with have openly admitted to me that they came here to work, to improve their lives. Real refugees flee from their homeland and request refugee status as quickly as they can in a neighboring country. These people, though, have passed through four or five countries on their way here, since the nearest country wasn’t good enough.
Egypt? Why would they want to remain in Egypt? Life is difficult there. They want Tel Aviv.
They didn’t walk through the desert for 40 years to get here – they arrived by using welloiled, organized transport that begins with a flight directly to Cairo. They then paid thousands of dollars to achieve this “refugee status.”
And they didn’t protest last week due to the fact that we’re deporting them, because that’s just it: we’re not! Most of the infiltrators are from Sudan and Eritrea and Israel is not deporting them, for that would be against the law. The Israeli authorities are trying to convince them to leave of their own free will by offering each and every one of them a grant of thousands of dollars. And so last week, they were not demanding freedom – they were demanding Tel Aviv.
What we are doing now is transferring some of them to the Hulot facility, a center with amazing living conditions. You can go take a look yourself. The facility was originally built for the IDF (which was furious when it was expropriated).
The migrants can take classes, get three square meals a day and even have full access to health services. It’s a full-service center.
In the rest of the world, when refugees reach a neighboring country in a desperate attempt to save their lives, they are housed in refugee camps. Take a second to research this. Syrian refugees live in tin structures and tents in such camps. That’s how refugees all over the world live. If Hulot were actually a refugee camp, it would be the fanciest one in the world.
But no, our refugees want to live in Tel Aviv.
Because that’s where they can find work. And by the way, all of them are working. We noticed that this week, too.
In every other country around the world, in the best-case scenario refugees are housed in facilities provided by the state. Here they want to live and work in Tel Aviv. Or Eilat. A few weeks ago when the authorities began transferring the economic migrants to the Hulot facility, the migrants decided to go on strike.
This is what triggered the protest. This is what they’re worried about. And that is why when I hear David Grossman, a popular, important and principled Israeli author, speaking to infiltrators about how we Jews also once encountered locked doors, I am absolutely outraged.
Mr. Grossman, can these economic migrants really be compared with the people who were slaughtered in the Holocaust? Was a decision taken to wipe the Sudanese or Eritrean peoples off the face of the earth? Has a Nazi tyrant taken over Africa and built concentration camps there? How can you compare these two situations? This comparison is despicable, populist and detached from reality.
Africa is a wretched place. According to UN reports, around 20 million Africans dream about making a new life for themselves in a Western country. The closest Western country they can reach is Israel.
The Israeli government under the leadership of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (who scores a 10 on this issue) blocked the border by building a fence. But what really put an end to this torrent of economic migrants (which reached 3,500 a month in its heyday) was the detention facility in which the government was legally permitted to hold the infiltrators for three years. The moment this information reached Africa (which in the Facebook era takes a few nanoseconds) this flow came to a standstill.
The Supreme Court then invalidated the amendment, and so the government quickly passed a more moderate amendment. This is where we now stand.
The moment the Africans understand that the Israeli government has surrendered, that they will be allowed to come work in Tel Aviv, the dam will once again be opened. No fence will be tall enough to keep them away. They can always dig a tunnel or come in through Jordan or by the sea. This is how the world works: if there is work, they will come.
Therefore, it is absolutely critical that the government take a clear stand on this issue. I pray that Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar will remain as steadfast on this issue as he has been up until now.
The State of Israel has been ignoring hundreds of thousands of its young citizens who are stuck living in south Tel Aviv. We have the nerve to tell them to go buy apartments far away from the country’s Center (in exchange for 144 average salaries) while tens of thousands of Africans take over south Tel Aviv.
They’ve turned it into a gigantic, violent toilet and now the human rights organizations claim that we need to make an “arrangement.”
And what kind of arrangement might they want? I imagine they would like us to let the Africans remain here, grant them visas and let them settle down.
The hypocrisy of the leftist camp is breaking all of its own records.
I’m especially angry about this because on most issues I consider myself a leftist. I’d be willing to sign the Geneva Accords tomorrow morning (if there were a courageous partner on the other side). And I think that the disturbed youth who live in the hilltop communities and take part in violent and illegal activity are a threat to Israel’s existence. I believe that the settlements are going to bring disaster upon us.
I don’t trust the Palestinians and I know they’ll never recognize Israel’s right to be a Jewish state, but I do think we need to let them have their own state, for better or for worse and as quickly as possible. With respect to social issues, I’m much closer to Labor’s Merav Michaeli than to Bayit Yehudi’s Ayelet Shaked. My cultural heroes are Meir Shalev, David Grossman, Arik Einstein and Ali Mohar.
And yet, despite all this, this is who we are. I cannot accept the changes that would affect Israel’s character, our future and what we stand for if we were to open our doors to anyone who wanted to come live here.
When leftists speak about the creation of a Palestinian state, they always use the term “demography,” arguing that within a short period of time, the Arabs will become a majority of the population in Israel, and then we would need give everyone the right to vote and the Jewish state would cease to exist.
So how can you on the one hand preach that we should surrender land we are connected to emotionally and religiously, which is so significant for us strategically, and thereby get rid of a million Arabs, and yet at the same time call to tens and then hundreds of thousands of Africans to come live here? The migrant workers’ campaign we witnessed last week scares me. It is based on naïveté mixed with lies and a twisted reality. It was organized by human rights organizations, many of which are led by Israelis – Israeli anarchists.
The old leaders of the infiltrators disappeared overnight, and new ones took their place. They are being briefed and handed ready-made signs. Buses are being reserved for them and they are being spoon-fed slogans.
They are acting in a disciplined manner and are not violent. At least up until now they haven’t been.
They’re saving the violence for the nighttime in Tel Aviv; there aren’t any cameras there. In Tel Aviv, thousands of weak Israelis have been left to fend for themselves: old people, the disabled, Holocaust survivors, the housebound, people who’ve had their whole lives taken from them, not to mention their belongings.
People who are too scared to go downstairs to the corner market for fear of being mugged.
It has already been proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Israel is the most enlightened of Western nations when it comes to dealing with refugees. In Switzerland, for example, a law was recently passed which rules that Eritrean military deserters cannot be considered refugees.
Australia exiles refugees to a remote island.
Spain built a lethal separation wall that includes metal blades. The US is building even higher walls on its border with Mexico. You really don’t want to know what it’s like to be a migrant infiltrator in the US.
Can you imagine if tens of thousands of illegal immigrants marched on Washington? No, that would never happen there. But here, it’s happening.
The first thing the “arrangement” of the infiltrators should deal with is to save south Tel Aviv. This was the first Jewish city. It was never an African city. We rejected the Uganda option, if you recall.
Anyone who hasn’t walked around there at night and seen the fear in people’s eyes firsthand cannot imagine the extent of the trouble we’re in. Anyone who hasn’t visited elderly Holocaust survivors who are holed up in their apartments, who hasn’t seen the wild, alcohol- fueled parties African migrants hold every single night cannot understand.
An entire underworld has been constructed on the ruins of the city.
Crime is rampant, and the weak and elderly Israelis who had nowhere to run to have been left behind to fend for themselves.
The police are finally functioning efficiently in south Tel Aviv. In contrast to official crime statistics, the police admit that the reality of the situation is out of control. Most of infiltrators’ names do not appear on any list whatsoever, and it is impossible to locate them. Most of them also don’t bother to lodge official complaints with the police. But south Tel Aviv is now certainly the capital of Israel when it comes to anything connected with contraband: stolen mobile phones and wallets, drunkenness, hooliganism, violence, bicycle theft and sexual assault. Most of the Asian and Filipino women who are assaulted do not lodge a complaint with the police.
Infiltrators also attack tourists. And because the Africans come from places where alcohol was not readily available, they drink every night and get very drunk. As a result, there is endless drunken violence, with lots of blood.
Citizens wake every morning to broken bottles and windows, and excrement on the sidewalks.
And the police have registered a huge increase in drug sales and use in the area.
Druglords have begun staking out territories, and hierarchies within the organizations are forming.
And the high rate of drug sales overflows toward the beach areas of Tel Aviv in the summertime.
Drugs used to be sold only in the area around the old central bus station, but the trade has now spread out to the Shapira, Montefiore, Hatikva and Yad Eliyahu neighborhoods.
More and more streets are being overrun. More and more Israelis have lost the pleasant, happy lives they used to have – and they have been abandoned by their country.
This could not have happened so quickly and easily anywhere else in the world. Only here in Israel.Translated by Hannah Hochner.