Israel and the Refugee Crisis

Two articles to be read together. And as you read, consider the lies told about Pope Pius XII's actions during WWII, a time during which he saved 800,000 Jewish lives but was accused of remaining "silent" and whose name was dragged through the mud anyway.

The first article comes from the Christian Post:

Christian Refugees Are Begging the West to Save Them From Persecution, Says Syrian Church Leader
By Stoyan Zaimov , Christian Post Reporter
October 7, 2015|7:37 am

Syriac Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III Younan has warned that the vast refugee crisis in Iraq and Syria has reached "biblical proportions," and fleeing Christians are begging Western countries to step up and save them from persecution at the hands of extremists.

"We are begging the West to stand for the rights of all citizens in Iraq and Syria," the spiritual leader of the world's 158,000 Syriac Catholics declared in a speech during a visit to Detroit, according to Catholic San Francisco.

"The situation is very devastating and tragic. For Iraq, this has been happening for two generations. For Syria, the war has been taking place for the last three years, with no hope on the horizon for Christians in the area."

Patriarch Younan focused on the various atrocities facing Christians across the region, from executions and forced conversions at the hands of the Islamic State terror group, to the destruction of churches, and trafficking of women and girls as sex slaves.

"The crisis is evolving into more killings, more hostages and a struggle with no end in sight," he added. "We've been through these struggles for 14 months, since the fall of Mosul on June 10, 2014. Since then, all the Christian communities in northern Iraq have been wiped out."

Iraqi and Syrian Christians are among the millions of refugees who've fled the region and are looking for asylum in Western states. Younan argued, however, that the U.S. and other countries have played a significant role in creating this crisis, starting with the operations that brought down Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Quote:The ones who make it to the West are still being persecuted. See these search results.

"These nations must accept refugees. Surely, refuges are not the best way to solve the crisis. But if the world believes in freedom of movement and the right of immigration, then these countries must welcome the refugees from policies they helped create," Younan said.

He also noted that Christians have been at the center of Middle East civilization for millennia, and so far have survived "against all the odds." The spiritual leader insisted that now is the time, however, for "Western Christian brothers and sisters" to come to their aid.

Other church leaders in Syria, such as Metropolitan Jean-Clément Jeanbart, of the Melkite Archdiocese of Aleppo, have warned that the ongoing exodus of Christians in the Middle East is both "apocalyptic and fatal."

Jeanbart said that the mass exodus of Christians is "a form of deportation, condemning our faithful to a humiliating exile and our 2,000-year-old Church to a deadly drying up."

Much like many other church leaders across Iraq and Syria, he also criticized the lack of help from Western governments, claiming they "appear to be either indifferent or unjust" to the plight of the refugees.

"What horrors must ISIS commit before the world will take greater action to stop the murderers?" Jeanbart asked in another speech earlier this year. "Syrian Christians are in grave danger; we may disappear soon."

That's the goal, man -- one of the two goals!

Meanwhile the U.S.-led airstrikes effort against IS targets across Iraq and Syria continues, with CNN reporting on Wednesday that Russian officials have pledged that they will cooperate with Western states in the fight against terrorism in Syria.

Activists are accusing Russia of continuing to aid the government of President Bashar al-Assad in his civil war against rebel groups, however, which the U.S. has said further escalates the conflict in the region.

The second article comes from Haaretz:

Israel's Anti-refugee Attitude Smells of anti-non-Semitism

With the rest of the world taking actions to receive refugees and Israel's historical success at absorbing them, why won't it let the African asylum seekers already within its borders stay?

Steven Klein Sep 10, 2015 10:24 AM

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a story about non-Jewish refugees. "Israel is a small country, and we do not have the geographic and demographic depths" to absorb refugees from Africa or Syria, Netanyahu told ministers at the cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday. This is the same prime minister who in 2012 said the following: “But tiny Israel, on a speck of land, with no natural resources, with no oil, without any of these resources, without the land, we absorbed Jewish refugees into our society and we integrated them into Israeli life.”

All of a sudden, "integration" is something good. Wow.

How can it be that a country with 8,000,000 people, a highly developed high-tech, export oriented economy, a GDP of $300 billion, a per capita GDP of $37,000 and a trillion cubic meters of natural gas reserves cannot absorb a single refugee when 67 years ago that same country with barely 800,000 people, whose main export was oranges, with an estimated per capita GDP of $400-500  and no known natural gas resources took in some 690,000 immigrants, many of them refugees, within three years, as the prime minister likes to boast.

In fact, Netanyahu should know that the absorption of all these destitute refugees fueled one of the greatest post-WWII economic growth stories in the world, with Israel’s GDP leaping 30 percent in 1951 alone and an average of 9.2 percent for the period 1950-68.

Based on Netanyahu’s boast and Israel's historical experience with absorbing refugees, the country should be looking to take in more, not turn them away – especially at a time when the Western world in general, and Europe in particular, is taking action to receive more refugees. So why is Netanyahu able to hold onto his story that absorbing refugees would be bad for Israel, and what are the consequences of this mistaken attitude?

Something here smells of anti-non-Semitism. Israel had no problem in 1991 taking in 14,500 destitute Ethiopian Jews in one weekend. And I bet that if 50,000 destitute ultra-Orthodox Jews from New York showed up on Israel’s doorstep tomorrow asking for all the benefits offered to "olim," new Jewish immigrants, Netanyahu wouldn't say, “Sorry, we’re too small to absorb you.”

It can’t be economics. While there is little research on the economic impact of refugees, perhaps because it is convenient for politicians and policy makers to pander to anti-immigration populism, the little evidence there is suggests that refugees can have a positive impact on local economies. Research has shown that refugee influxes, such as Somalis in the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya, can benefit host communities as international assistance trickles into the community and refugee economic activity – they create more demand for local products and another source of employment – contributes to the local standard of living.

Perhaps Netanyahu is fearful of encouraging more non-Jewish refugees to “infiltrate” Israel for fear of threatening its Jewish character and of admitting potential terrorists who would threaten its security. Has he already forgotten that Israel completed a security fence on the Egyptian border that has virtually shut down the entry of African asylum seekers since mid-2013? Regarding the potential of Syrian refugees, as Anshel Pfeffer noted, they are not interested in coming here and any talk of offering them asylum here is a PR stunt, so it’s a moot point.

Quote:That's the one:  "threatening its Jewish character" is the right answer. Jews are allowed to have a Jewish country with Jewish citizens and a Jewish character. But Christians can't have Christian countries with Christian citizens and a Christian character. The Powers That Be have spoken.

So which refugees are we really talking about that Israel cannot absorb? Essentially, they are the 47,000-odd asylum seekers already in the country, many of whom Israel has been tormenting by sending them to Holot. They hardly pose a geographic or demographic threat, representing barely 0.5 percent of the population.

If Israel is not going to take in any more asylum seekers, the least it can do is absorb the ones already in its midst and not try to pawn them off to other Western countries, which should be investing their resources and time on the masses of Middle East refugees heading their way. It is an embarrassment that Israel, a developed nation, sent asylum seekers within their borders to Western nations because they could not handle them.

And for all the anti-migrant propaganda being espoused by xenophobic Israelis that the Africans are a burden and source of crime, a Knesset report indicates that the crime rate among African asylum seekers is lower than that among the general population – somewhat of a miracle considering that Israel’s refusal to allow many of them to earn an honest day’s wages could easily drive many of them to petty crime just to survive. Netanyahu ought to get to know some of these refugees; many of those who do don’t want them to leave.

The bottom line is that resolving the issue by granting African asylum seekers permanent resident status, closing the detention centers and allowing them to work and become taxpayers, rather than spending money to keep them imprisoned, can only benefit Israel long-term. Recall that immigration by “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses” as the Statue of Liberty referred to them, helped propel the United States to economic greatness, and that the reduction and virtual elimination of immigration preceded the Great Depression.

If Israel is too scared to open its doors to the tired, poor and huddled masses pouring out of the Middle East, let it at least allow the work-seeking, poor and crowded masses of South Tel Aviv and elsewhere in Israel to remain in this country and further build our society. And their children, who already speak Hebrew and go to Zionist youth movements, will contribute to Israel’s security when they serve in the Israeli army. Like Abd al-Majd Hidr, aka Amos Yarkoni, the Muslim Bedouin who became a legendary Israel Defense Forces commander, one of them may become the poster child of 21st century Israel. How could a security-oriented, not to mention public relations-oriented, prime minister like Netanyahu not like a story like that?

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