Israel is betraying its history by expelling African asylum-seekers

asylum seeker
African migrants demonstrating outside the Rwandan embassy in Herzliya, Israel on Jan 22. (Jack Guez / AFP via Getty Images)

Israel intends to tell Eritrean and Sudanese refugees that they can either accept deportation or go to prison until they change their minds.

By Gershom Gorenberg | The Washington Post | Jan 29, 2018


Netanyahu isn’t bashful. . . . For him and his allies, the world sinned against Jews, and Israel’s obligation stops at giving refuge to Jews.


“I don’t have a visa,” Emanuel Yemani told me.

He spoke in Hebrew on the phone. After his third prison term for political offenses, Yemani had fled from Eritrea, traveling north through Sudan and Egypt. He crossed the Sinai Peninsula — the same ancient route used by Hebrew slaves delivered from Egypt — and entered Israel ten years ago.

It has been enough time for him to learn the language — but not enough to gain a firm legal status. Like nearly 40,000 other refugees from Eritrea and Sudan in Israel, Yemani has lived on a short-term visa that he must renew every couple of months at the Interior Ministry. The last time he did so, he brought a document that had been requested. The ministry official refused to take it, and Yemani recounted the exchange:

“No need,” said the official. “Soon we’ll deport all of you, and you’ll sit under a tree, open your mouth and wait for a banana to fall, like a monkey.”

“But I’m a human being, not a monkey,” Yemani answered.

“Don’t you see yourselves, that you look like monkeys?” the official answered.

Upset, Yemani complained to a supervisor, who asked for his visa and told guards to escort him out. When Yemani returned with a lawyer, the supervisor said he’d have to pay 250 shekels (about $75) — the fee for replacing a lost visa — if he wanted it back.

Yemani said he preferred to keep his self-respect.

(A spokesperson of the ministry’s Population and Migration Authority has not replied to a request for a response.)

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