Thursday, 16 July 2009

A selective invitation from the state of Israel:

To Work – People of all Nations and Religions
To Live – Jews Only

Physicians for Human-Rights Israel (PHR-I) strongly condemns the policy of collective expulsion of migrants and asylum seekers, which fails to examine the specific claims and circumstances of each migrant. Since Israel’s immigration policy is firmly rooted in the right of return (for Jewish people), the policy is fated to cause grave injustice, trouble and distress to all who arrive in Israel and are not Jewish.

We therefore demand the Interior Ministry invite all who are being pursued and face arbitrary arrest to a fair hearing in which their claims and circumstances will be examined individually. Moreover, we demand that everyone be afforded adequate time to prepare and make arrangements prior to deportation. All this must be done before an individual is arrested and place behind bars.

A distorted Policy of Immigration: As long as Israel’s immigrant policy is grounded in the law of return for Jews, injustices against non- Jewish migrants will continue. In contrast to the path customary in advanced democratic societies- where a variety of different options for naturalization exist, which take into account various indicators such as number of years of residence, level of integration, language proficiency, education, etc.- The State of Israel continues to recognize religion as the sole criteria for obtaining status, ignoring beyond a shadow of a doubt the reality which has for years existed here on the ground.

Exploitation and Imperviousness: As long as the State seeks and relies on cheap labor, Israel will continue to issue invitations to migrant workers to work in the country. This will come at the migrants’ expense, as the State will provide nothing short of abuse, imperviousness and degradation. With rises in unemployment Israel has making demagogic use of the presence of migrants, accusing them of being responsible for all economic ills facing the State, as if they themselves were liable for the failed progress of all treasury ministers who have come before. Israel’s hypocrisy continues, for just as migrants are being deported from Israel as sacrificial lambs, the State is allowing thousands of new migrants in. It appears that people still need to cut corners with cheap labor.

In Hot Pursuit of Refugees: By law, refugees and asylum seekers are entitled to live legally in Israel, according to permits provided by the Interior Ministry itself. On one hand, the State affirms that it will refrain from deporting refugees and asylum seekers to countries where their lives may be in danger (such as Sudan, Eritrea and Congo), yet on the other, the authorities are doing all they can to make the life of asylum seekers as difficult as possible. The vast majority are left with no social rights what so ever (no work permits or health insurance, no financial support to help send their children to school, no welfare services of any kind). The geographical restriction of "Hadera-Gedera" is but one example of the abusive policy towards refugees, as it distances them from the only aid and welfare institutions which have been made available to them, all of which are located in the center of Israel.

Expulsion of Israelis: Israel’s malicious policy of collective expulsion is exceptionally harsh as it stands to target families with children, many of whom are just as Israeli as you and I: They speak Hebrew fluently; They are proficient in Israeli culture; They study in Israeli schools and are friends with our children. The imminent rupture of youth from their country and environment, and their subsequent detention and deportation is a blatant violation of the Principles of the Best Interests of the Child, part of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child.

There is another possibility: In the past, when our penchant for ethnocentrism was at a low, the State of Israel extended residency status to children who had been living in Israel for a minimum of 4 years and 9 months. With this so, why then are children in a similar situation, some of whom are already 6 and 7 years old, not entitled to the same considerations? Are they any less Israeli? Could we ever conceive of our own children sitting in jail as a result of our own actions? Would we continue to be silent if, in some faraway place, an Israeli family sat in prison on account of their child- all because their existence was deemed illegal.

Under the imperviousness that characterizes the relationship between the Interior Ministry and any person who is not a Jew, the State should stop for a moment from its hasty deportation activities and formulate, in all frankness, an immigration policy which references human rights. This- and no less- is what is to be expected from a country in which refuge and immigration play such an integral and prominent historical role.

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