The day after police arrested four Eritrean and Sudanese men for robbing and raping a 19 year-old woman in south Tel Aviv’s Neve Sha’anan, Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai said most African illegal immigrants should be rounded up and either deported or arrested.
Speaking to Army Radio on Wednesday, Yishai (Shas) distinguished between those seeking asylum and those who came to Israel as opportunists, interested in taking advantage of Israeli humanitarian benefits or engaging in crime. All those involved in crime should be jailed, according to Yishai, and the majority of the remainder deported, except for those who are truly threatened in their countries of origin. “One cannot forsake the security of Israelis,” Yishai said. Under his plan, the deported would be provided financial assistance by Israel.
South Tel Aviv has become a center of African illegal immigrants, who primarily enter the country with the aid of Bedouins through Sinai.
MK Danny Danon (Likud) on Wednesday wrote on his Facebook page that he will take steps to remove the illegal immigrants from the country. “I intend to hold a national emergency hearing on the issue of the illegal infiltrators. The current situation is intolerable! We should expel all the infiltrators before it’s too late,” he wrote. Danon advocates evicting over 80% of illegal immigrants from Africa and Eastern Europe.
Haaretz published parts of a report on Tuesday in which Israel’s Foreign Ministry recommended investigating the possibility of deporting refugees whose lives would not be threatened by the measure.
MK Dov Hanin (Hadash) called Yishai comments “incitement and populism”.
There are between 700 and 2,000 South Sudanese illegals in Israel, according to estimates.
On June 3, the government will issue a response to the District Court for Administrative Matters in Jerusalem regarding Israel’s ability to withdraw protection from South Sudanese asylum seekers.
Jewish leaders in Greece expressed concern and disappointment after the fascist Golden Dawn party was poised to enter the Greek parliament for the first time.
Speaking to a news conference on Sunday, Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos warned Greece’s enemies – inside and outside the country – that they should be “very afraid.”
“We are coming,” said Michaloliakos, one of the party’s only nationally known leaders. He came to prominence when he won a seat on the Athens City Council in 2010 and celebrated by giving the Nazi salute at the first City Hall meeting.
The party had campaigned on an anti-austerity, anti-immigrant platform, preying on the fears of ordinary Greeks who have seen their neighborhoods overrun by the nearly 1 million immigrants who have flooded the country from Asia and Africa hoping to use it as a gateway to the European Union.
With most of the ballots counted, Golden Dawn received nearly 7 percent of the vote in Sunday’s elections as Greeks punished the mainstream parties they blame for the country’s financial crisis and accepting harsh European austerity measures.
“It is very disappointing that in a country like Greece, where so many were killed fighting the Germans, that a neo-Nazi party is now in parliament,” David Saltiel, president of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, told JTA.
It was a major victory for Golden Dawn, whose flag closely resembles the Nazi swastika. In the 2009 elections, the party garnered just 0.29 percent of the vote. In Greece, a party needs more than 3 percent of the vote to make it into parliament.
Saltiel said Golden Dawn entering the parliament was of ” very great concern because they are extreme right,” but he expressed his hope that the party may now moderate its positions.
“We are looking at how the situation will be in parliament and what their positions will be,” he said.
During the elections, young party supporters with shaved heads and wearing black shirts with the Golden Dawn symbol set up vigilante groups to protect Greeks from immigrants. They have been blamed for several attacks on foreigners; the party denies the charges.
The party’s election platform included plans to landmine Greece’s borders, immediately arrest and expel illegal immigrants, and set up special labor camps for legal immigrants who commit crimes.
Its manifesto does not specifically mention the country’s small Jewish community, saying only that the party would tolerate religious freedom “except in cases that affect national interest and undermine Hellenism.”
However, the party openly displays copies of “Mein Kampf” alongside works on Greek racial superiority at party headquarters and the party symbol has been found at the sites of anti-Semitic attacks in the past.
“Sh*t Anglos in Israel Say”, an English-speaking Israeli meme of the popular Youtube video Sh*t Girls Say”, earned 57,000 views in two days, taking comedic aim at the life of the average young English-speaking immigrant to Israel.
With such typical oleh quips as “I’m going to the post office, I’ll be back in 4 hours,” “You’re going back to the States? Oh, can you bring me back some NyQuil?” and “You have last year’s Cosmo? Can I borrow it?” the film poked fun at the frustration, confusion, and occasional desperation of Israelis harkening from the US, Canada, England and Australia.
The video is the brainchild of Shira Rottner and Yosef Adest, a freelance video producer and photographer who made aliyah in 2003 from New York. A self-proclaimed optimist, Adest – who is now 31, single, and living in Tel Aviv – says that while his video is a critique of Israeli society, it was also a labor of love.
“The whole video is a stab at Israel and Israelis,” Adest told The Jewish Press. “It’s about what is wrong with this place, but looking at it and smiling at it. We laughed the whole time we were making it.”
The video centered around the characters’ struggle to adapt to a sometimes brusque and foreign-seeming Israeli culture while remaining within the safe and familiar environment of the Anglo community, with its recognizable products and comforts. “What we joke about in the video is all true, it’s all fact,” Adest said. “It’s not a reason that Israel is bad or challenging, it’s just how Israel is.” The key, he said, is attitude. “I feel great that I’m in a place now that I can say no, I’m not an Israeli and I’ll never be, but I completely feel like I fit in and I can call this place my home.”
“We grew up with ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ – we’ll always be different,” he joked.
Yet while Anglo Israelis frequently feel themselves to be apart from native Israeli culture, they can also grow to feel that they no longer relate to the culture of their past, either. “I was in America, and people were getting in line to get on the bus, and I was like ‘really? You need a whole line? Here, let me help you with your baby’. I really felt like a foreigner,” Adest said. “And that’s crazy! I’m not an Israeli, but I’m no longer American. I’m in the middle.”
Young and old, recent and veteran immigrants to Israel posted comments and kudos on Youtube and Facebook commiserating and laughing with the cast and crew. Some commenters expressed sheepish surprise at how much the stereotypical immigrants sounded like them, while others shared their joy at being able to identify with the comical trials and tribulations of the actors.
At one point, one of the characters said “I hate it here”, which Adest said is something he has heard some immigrants say. “Myself and everyone involved, we all love Israel, but we included that statement because people really say that,” Adest said. “But I think at the same time, most people who grow frustrated with the challenges love it. I think you can get to a point where you can really appreciate it all. We can make fun of it without harming the integrity of our love for this place as our home.” Incidentally, the character expressing her frustration with life in Israel was immediately answered by a friend saying, “Oh, I love it here”.
As for himself, Adest made Israel home for different reasons than the ones he loves Israel for today. “When I made aliyah, I came for very spiritual reasons, but I’ve actually come to love the Israeli culture, the Israeli mindset as well, completely separate from the religious and spiritual significance of the place,” he said. “I think that’s when you can completely be absorbed here, when you can appreciate the whole gamut.”
JewishPress.com Managing Editor Yishai Fleisher expressed pride in Adest’s accomplishment. “I first met Yosef Adest at Jerusalem II pizza in Manhattan when I was hosting a pro-aliyah event. Later, I greeted him as he got off the Nefesh b’Nefesh plane on aliyah,” Fleisher said. “It was obvious then that here was a young man who was coming to Israel with great ideological passion and a tremendous love of the land and the Jewish people, and since aliyah, he has put his talents to good use. This video is entertaining, but it also shows the normalization of aliyah in American Jewish life and is a stepping stone in the process of the ingathering of North American Jewry to Israel.”
Yishai Fleisher and Yosef Adest have produced two films together – one about the mass priestly blessing which happpens at the festivals in Jerusalem, and one humorous short about shaking the lulav and etrog on Sukkot.
For more videos by Yosef Adest, visit www.yosefadest.com
The IDF and Israel Police uncovered a powerful explosive device overnight while on an anti-smuggling operation.
According to the IDF Spokesperson, “Israeli forces that were trying to stop smugglers saw a man throw a suspicious bag and flee the scene. After an examination…it was determined that the bag contained a powerful explosive device. The device was later detonated in a controlled manner.”
The Spokesperson also said that the incident is “a reminder that the smuggling routes on the Israel-Egypt border are constantly used by terrorist organizations to conduct operations against Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers.”
In 2011, over 15,000 illegal immigrants crossed Israel’s porous border with Egypt.
Israel Today reported Monday that the Jewish Agency is pulls funding for ulpanim – intensive Hebrew-language classes for immigrants – including classrooms and school supplies, potentially leaving thousands of new immigrants with nowhere to learn Hebrew upon arriving in Israel.
As of March 15, thousands of new immigrants to Israel will have to find new ways to learn Hebrew, as a sudden pullout of funds by the Jewish Agency will force the closure of dozens of ulpanim, schools for the intensive study of Hebrew.
The news was broken by an alarmed letter attained by Israel Hayom that was sent by Absorption Ministry Director Dimitri Apartsev to the heads of the Education Ministry, the Jewish Agency and the Prime Minister’s Office, as well as to the cabinet secretary. “As a result of the Jewish Agency’s unilateral announcement to cease funding the ulpanim for new immigrants, I must warn that starting March 15 ulpan activity will be halted,” Apartsev wrote. He claims that the Absorption Ministry had tried to discuss matters with the Jewish Agency, but that planned meetings had been delayed three times by the agency, and a new date had not been scheduled.
It’s difficult to assess whether this entire issue might not be purely hypothetical, but as it turns out from a Yoav Zitun story in Ynet this week, The IDF now demands that new candidates for service in Israel’s submarine force waive their foreign citizenship in order to join.
We have no way of knowing just how many young men and women with hard-to-give-up American, British, or French citizenship (to name a few) are standing in line at the IDF recruitment offices, eager to spend their service near the bottom of the sea. But if they do, they will have to think long and hard about the price they’ll have to pay.
Apparently, Israel’s underwater fleet joined a few other elite combat units requiring that young warrior wannabes give up their former citizenship to join them. One could surmise from this demand that as long as a young recruit continues to carry his other passport in his shirt pocket, he can’t be trusted with the country’s highest levels of security clearance.
The criteria for receiving an IDF security clearance are decided by the units themselves, by the Shin Bet (Internal Security) and by the National Security Council, based on the level of exposure to classified materials during one’s service.
And so, submarine service recruits who are olim or the children of olim receive a notification stating that in order to qualify for the year-long training, as part of their security screening, they must renounce their foreign citizenship.
But here’s a catch: if a recruit went ahead and gave up his other citizenship, and then was dropped from the training course, he can never get his original citizenship back. Now, that’s a heartfelt show of patriotism!
The IDF Spokesman’s Office confirmed that “for information security purposes, soldiers serving in certain IDF units are required to meet strict criteria.”
According to Zitun, the recent move raised strong opposition among fleet reserve officers, who claim that the new decree will limit the number of volunteers clamoring to join the unit.
One former officer did not think the issue was hypothetical at all. “This is absurd. Many excellent recruits hold a dual citizenship but wish to serve in an elite unit such as the submarine fleet,” he told Zitun. “In a country that fights for every recruit, especially for elite units, this demand should not be made. Soldiers serve for only a few years, and must not pay by losing their foreign citizenship that can be used later in life.”
The Jewish Press sent an inquiry to the IDF Spokesman’s office, echoing the same concern, and received this response: “The IDF has numerous criteria it uses in order to efficiently place soldiers in optimal positions. Since its establishment, the IDF has done everything in its power to function as a melting pot, allowing the integration of immigrants from all walks of life. The number of drafted immigrants has climbed annually to thousands in 2010 alone.”
Not highly specific, but we catch their drift. It’s not easy taking in young folks from all over the globe and turning them into soldiers. You want to be an immigrant and a hero? It’ll cost you…