Photo: Mati Amar, TPS
Anti-immigrant demonstration by south Tel Aviv residents
Photo: Mati Amar, TPS
Yoaz Hendel

We need an immigration policy, not just compassion

Op ed: The High Court of Justice's decision to prohibit the forced deportation of illegal migrants blocks the state's ability to sanction those who refuse it, leaving Israel with no immigration policy to speak of. Leniency is all well and good, but the court was out of line in interfering with a political matter many world governments have tangled with.

One of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's greatest achievements is blocking our southern border.



In 2011, while the border fence was being built, more than 2,000 illegal aliens passed through the crossing every month. An entire industry of Bedouin and Egyptian smugglers sprung up around them due to Israel's inefficacy.


Immigrants protesting forced deportation (Photo: EPA) (Photo: EPA)
Immigrants protesting forced deportation (Photo: EPA)


Those who were able to cross the border received VIP transportation further into Israel, mostly to Tel Aviv's Central Bus Station.


A real strategic problem slowly developed under all our noses, until the fence's completion nipped it in the bud.


The first to recognize the problem was Ariel Sharon, and the second was Ehud Olmert. The latter of whom came up with the idea of the fence, as well as the idea of sending the migrants to a third country. Meir Dagan, then Mossad chief, flew to Africa on a secret mission and closed a deal.


The ideas suggested in light of this situation were all well and good, but it was Netanyahu who actually built the wall.


This all served as a backdrop to the High Court Justice's Monday decision, which focuses on the illegal aliens who are already here rather than the ones who are to come.


The migrantion phenomenon is part of a natural economic process. The poor are attracted to wealth. The people of Africa are searching for a route to Europe, and the citizens of Third World countries are looking for their entry ticket into more prosperous countries. Israel was and still is a preferred destination in that regard, a democratic country that—at worst—will arrest you and send you to an open facility in the south, where you'll get to have a ball at the taxpayer's expense.


Illegal aliens detained in the Saharonim facility (Photo: Haim Horenstein) (Photo: Haim Horenstein)
Illegal aliens detained in the Saharonim facility (Photo: Haim Horenstein)


Tens of thousands of people pass through British detention facilities for illegal migrants every year. The Netherlands built a detention and deportation facility next to one of its airports. Italy—already operating detention facilities in Libya to prevent maritime incursions into its territory—now has several camps on its own land. Australia deports Muslim immigrants from Indonesia to an isolated island. At the start of the Obama administration, 400,000 illegal migrants were deported, in a single year.


In general, since the advent of the Syrian Civil War, European countries have been squabbling over where to send hundreds of thousands of refugees arriving by sea to Italy and Greece.


The harsh images cropping up over the past couple of years are heart-rending for anyone who's seen them. They haven't, however, canceled the need for an immigration policy. In Israel as well as elsewhere.


Footage came to light Tuesday of IDF soldiers volunteering with immigrant children in South Tel Aviv. Channel 20, previously called the "Heritage Channel", attacked them under the heading "political use of IDF soldiers to further the left's agenda."


I don't know of any heritage forbidding showing mercy to children, regardless of who they are.


Those who feel no mercy towards innocent human beings who have been through hell in order to provide their children with a better life have a problem. Illegal migrants are not the enemy.


Having said that, those who mix up healthy leniency and state official policy suffer from a much more serious issue.


Evil influences no one except those harboring it in their hearts. Chaos, however, affects everyone. The migrant situation in South Tel Aviv embodies a national failure, and has nothing to do with mercy and the desire to help those children.


The Israeli government has formulated an immigration policy similar to other countries. An open detention facility and deportation to a third country. The decision was reasonable and proper compared to what's going on in the rest of the world, especially considering Israel's size and its needs.


But after the Be'er Sheva District Court struck down a petition by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel on the matter, the High Court has now reversed its decision.


(Photo: Mandelbaum Photography) (Photo: Mandelbaum Photography)
(Photo: Mandelbaum Photography)


Absurdly, the High Court of Justice made a double error. The first was to further intervene in the government's decision, and on one of the only topics on which it was able to put together a clear and orderly policy, allowing for a serious and proportional mechanism.


The second error was showing lenience instead of discussing policy that not under its purview. The end result is the same: as of now Israel has no sanctions with which to operate against illegal aliens who refuse deportation. Israel currently has no immigration policy.


I don't intend to denigrate the show of leniency, even by judges. But for the court to intercede in a governmental decision, soome red line has to be crossed.


Leniency, by the way, should also be shown to the residents of South Tel Aviv. As such, the Israeli government intends to disperse illegal migrants all across the country, spreading them from one area of concentration over several.


We are responsible to see to the care of those who are already here. but the residents of South Tel Aviv who are Israeli citizens should come before the illegal aliens, who are not. both groups deserve personal compassion, but also a clear-cut policy. The High Court of Justice ruled out the latter option, leaving in place only leniency—each according to their own heart. And that is a mistake.


פרסום ראשון: 08.30.17, 20:20
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