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JUNE 7, 2013

While the government has recently taken steps to deport infiltrators, south Tel Aviv has been taken over by African migrants and refugees, leaving its few remaining Jewish inhabitants living in fear

African infiltrators have taken over south Tel Aviv
and the remaining residents are too

scared to leave their homes for fear

of violence and worse. Why does

the government appear to have forgotten about both populations?

Abandoned by the state


June 7, 2013

n Sunday, April 21, MK Elazar Stern took a tour of south Tel Aviv. He was invited by the local residents action committee, who will take anyone who is willing to listen on a tour of the area. But not many people are willing to go and witness whats going on there. Tens of thousands of Africans have infiltrated into Israel between 65,000 and 80,000 have completely taken a section of Tel Aviv and have founded the first African Republic of Zion.

Following the new infiltrator law and the installation of the security fence, most people were under the impression that the problem had been solved. But thats just it it hasnt. The problem is still alive and kicking and ruining the lives of thousands of Israelis who live there. Stern was born not far from here, in Yad Eliyahu. These are the neighborhoods of his youth. When he was invited to take a tour of the neighborhood, he immediately agreed to come, and invited his wife, Dorit, to join him, as well as his good friend, actor Shlomo Vishinski. Lets do the tour

A MIGRANT sleeps under a playground slide as a mother plays with her child.
(Photos: Reuters)

together, Vishi, he said. So Vishi also came. But in their wildest dreams they couldnt have imagined what this outing would have in store for them. They began to weave their way through the back streets of what used to be the first Jewish city in Israel, and which has now been turned into a town for illegal African infiltrators. From what used to be the Naveh Shaanan boardwalk, where people used to come from

all over the country to buy shoes, through the streets Rosh Pina, Levinsky and Levanda all of which have lost any semblance of what they used to be. Now they have become a no-mans-land that looks like it belongs in a completely different world. Stern began his tour on Levinsky Street, where a few elderly women live among hundreds of African infiltrators. They almost never leave their homes,

and dont open their doors. To make a trip to the corner grocery store, they require a police escort. Only three apartments in their building are still occupied by Israelis. The rest have been turned into a maze of apartments occupied by Africans who have snuck into Israel to find work. Each apartment houses 20 to 30 people. In the hallway, Stern was struck by the stench of urine and feces. An African woman was sitting in a corner sniffing cocaine or heroin. Stern is no spring chicken he was a colonel in the army. And yet this was the first time in his life that he saw someone using drugs. They continued on their tour. Stern met with residents, who one by one hesitatingly left the safety of their apartments only because they saw an MK whom they recognized. Then Stern went to the Georgian synagogue at the corner of Rosh Pina and Naveh Shaanan streets. Up until a few weeks ago, Israelis living in the area still came here to pray. But now they have stopped, and the building has been turned into one large recreational room for infiltrators. Stern and the others went inside, but were soon accosted by Sudanese and Eritreans who were hanging out there and forced them to leave. So they went outside and Stern began speaking with other residents, who told him that this is the synagogue where they held circumcision ceremonies for all of their sons, where they celebrated happy events with their families. And now, every night it turns into a tavern where Africans smoke hookahs. While Stern was standing on the sidewalk, he noticed that one of the infiltrators, a young guy wearing an undershirt, lay down in the middle of the road. This was clearly a declarative act aimed at Stern and his entourage. The young man made no motion to move. A long line of cars waited for him to move out of the way, drivers began honking, but he still didnt move. He took his time, acting as if he owned the entire street. At the same time, a friend of the man in the middle of the street began taunting Stern and the other members of his group. He pulled down his shirt and pointed to the cross that hung around his neck. Stern ignored him, of course, and when the young man realized that they werent interested in him, he crossed the street, came up behind Stern and clubbed him, knocking his kippa off his head. Then he squashed the kippa with his foot, while a huge grin covered his face. People tried to pick up Sterns kippa, but the man kept his foot on it. The most amazing part of this entire incident is that the man who attacked Stern made no effort to run away. He continued following them down the street. And why should he run away? It is the Africans who control the area. In the end, Stern called the police who arrested the man who had attacked him. But he was probably let go the very next day.

In retrospect, after he was attacked, Stern realized it had been a mistake not to notify the police that he was going to tour south Tel Aviv. He could have been accompanied by a bodyguard and the media, in which case he might have been left in peace. But on second thought, its better that he came this way, as he was able to experience what life is really like for Israelis who have been left behind to fend for themselves. THE NEXT day, I went to the area to see for myself. I had scheduled this visit a while ago I didnt know that the day before my visit an MK would be attacked there. In the meantime, Sterns story has turned into a kind of urban legend. So my visit took place in the footsteps of famous warriors. I was joined by Amnon Ben-Ami, the director of the Population, Immigration and Border Authority, a few of his colleagues and a number of armed guards. We met with a number of residents, who described to the media the horrors they have been experiencing in their neighborhood. This wasnt the first time I walked around this neighborhood. I held a number of anonymous visits there recently without a bodyguard or police. The experience is much worse when they dont know who you are. The feeling of fear, when it gets dark, is chillingly real. The threat is palpable. Incidents that occur there are not included in official crime statistics, because the police are powerless. They cannot open files on illegal infiltrators, so they release most of the people they arrest or lose track of them in the urban chaos that has spread through an area that once was called south Tel Aviv. Senior police officials admit that crime rates are actually hundreds of percentage points higher than those that are reported. Recently, Haaretz reported that there has been a sharp rise in the number of police cases in which infiltrators were involved, after a long period of neglect. But even this number is far from reflecting whats actually happening. All you need to do is go there and walk around the streets, talk with people, see the sights and smell the stench. Tens of thousands of infiltrators are living in south Tel Aviv alongside the thousands of Israelis who stay behind locked doors. The Israelis whove remained there are the ones who cannot escape, who have no way to get away and nowhere to go. They walk around like zombies. The neighborhoods where these residents grew up are now conquered territory nomans-land with no sovereign ruler. Everywhere else in Israel, to receive a work permit, you have to go through eight levels of bureaucratic hell, pay exorbitant rates, meet an endless list of requirements and the contemptuous behavior of the authorities. That is, unless you are an illegal infiltrator looking to make money. In this case, in southern Tel Aviv, you can open whatever kind of business you want, wherever you want, whenever MAGAZINE 7

Sudanese for smartphones. The smartphone theft phenomenon has crossed the border of south Tel Aviv and spread out all over. Hundreds of incidents in which a Sudanese man on a bicycle rides quickly by a child and swipes their phone right out of their hands occur. Sometimes this involves the girl or boy getting hit once or twice, and then whoosh: hes gone. This happens in Tel Aviv, as well as in other cities. Thirty minutes later, this very same phone can be seen for sale on the sidewalks of Naveh Shaanan. And thats not all you can buy there. Everything you could possibly want is available there. This is a full-fledged industry involving huge sums of money, a senior official in the immigration department told me. Theyve opened cafes, restaurants and bars. There are theaters and improvised malls. They have Internet. They have everything we have, just without a license; everything is improvised and funded by the black market. Interior Minister Gideon Saar is currently trying to pass a law that would limit the transfer of money infiltrators are sending back home from Israel. According to estimates, such a restriction could also speed up their departure from the country, since they came here in the first place to make money and not for any other reason. And if you guessed correctly yes, this bill has also hit a brick wall. Apparently its undemocratic. The streets of south Tel Aviv are scary. Alcohol runs freely. In what used to be the Mercaz Theater now sits an improvised mall filled with alcohol and drugs. Even when I went there with armed guards it was scary being there. They succeeded in getting us out of there very quickly. Lets go now, one of the guards told me, before beer bottles start flying. If you start arguing with one of them, within 90 seconds 30 of his friends materialize out of nowhere. And within 15 minutes its turned into a riot. Theyre not afraid of anyone. They dont fear the law, the police or anyone else. They simply built their own civilization here. They just do whatever they want. Every African who comes here is protected. Until recently, the army would just let them go in Tel Aviv. The moment they reach south Tel Aviv, they become untouchable. A tiny percentage of them are genuine refugees. All the rest are infiltrators. When you talk with them, they readily admit that they came here to get work, not to flee from anyone. They earn enough money here in a matter of days in what would take them a full year to make in Africa. And this will not end until they understand that they cannot work here, or that they cannot get money out of the country, or that they cannot take over Tel Aviv. While we were walking along the street during our tour, a woman appeared from inside one of the buildings. I saw you, so I came down, she said. I dont usually have the courage to leave home at this time of day. She

IMMIGRATION POLICE check the documents of migrants in Tel Aviv. you want. This is not speculation, its a fact. All you need to do is go down there and see it for yourself. Im not going to name names in this article (except for action committee members). Theyre already scared enough as it is. Residents whove been interviewed and whose names became public were later beat up by infiltrators. Not that they were in good shape beforehand. I will settle for telling their stories. The most chilling story is about an elderly couple, Holocaust survivors who live alone in an apartment on Naveh Shaanan Street. They are alone and completely surrounded by crime. They never leave home and dont respond to knocks on the door. Recently, they stopped opening the door even for employees of the Interior Ministry or the police. They have lost trust. Its Sodom and Gomorrah outside their window. A gigantic group of inebriated Sudanese stretches from the stairwell, out into the yard and the basement, and along the street. Downstairs, a table has been set up for a game of cards and betting. The entire street has been turned into an impromptu flea market of stolen property. Empty beer bottles are strewn everywhere. The first time this couple spoke with the media, they were beaten up afterwards by infiltrators. Id been trying to contact them for the last three weeks, but theyd stopped answering their phone. When I went there yesterday, neighbors told me that they had gone to live with relatives in Safed. I pray that is really what happened to them. SO WHATS the problem? The best explanation Ive heard so far was offered by the Yoman TV program shown on Channel 1 exactly a year ago. The program covered an incident in which three black men were spotted sitting on a bench in a commercial area of Ramat Aviv, in northern Tel Aviv. Within minutes, the police received four complaints from four separate people. Apparently a police car arrived on the scene, and as soon as they had ascertained that these men were not Israeli Ethiopians, but Arabic-speaking Africans, they put them in their patrol car and then dumped them near the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station. The program also said that Ramat Aviv residents announced that until the black men were removed from the area, all the children in the neighborhood were being kept inside behind locked doors. These types of incidents have happened many times. They are not reported and are not included in police statistics. But they are part of a shocking reality. We have given up on south Tel Aviv, but we forgot to let its residents know that. The poor and oppressed citizens whove remained there, unable to protest, arent of interest to anyone anymore. The problem of illegal infiltrators in search of work could be solved within minutes if all 80,000 of them (the current estimate) got up and settled, lets say, next to Haaretz owner Amos Schokens house in north Tel Aviv or Attorney-General Yehuda Weinsteins house in Herzliya Pituah or in Kfar Shmaryahu. This is the very same Weinstein who is delaying the process of moving the infiltrators from south Tel Aviv to detention centers in the southern Negev that cost hundreds of millions of shekels to build. This delay follows the publication of an article in Haaretz claiming that the transfer of these infiltrators is not of their own volition. We could quibble about this subject for hours, but the bottom line is that once again we came out looking like fools. Tens of millions of shekels some even claim that it has reached hundreds of millions were invested in these facilities where the infiltrators are meant to live, where they would receive full health and educational services, and necessary living expenses, but local bleeding hearts are torpedoing it. But they dont live in south Tel Aviv, do they? LETS GET back to south Tel Aviv. From a certain hour every evening, the area becomes colorful and noisy and boisterous. Its as if an imaginary ship was brought here from the bowels of Africa. In the Naveh Shaanan area, almost no Israeli merchants remain. They have all left due to pressure from the infiltrators. The paradox is that this exodus has caused the rent prices of homes and businesses to skyrocket. From the point of view of the Africans, business is booming: they have 80,000 hungry clients. The same is true for housing. Apartments that used to get NIS 2,000 a month for rent are now divided into four or five separate units in which the renters defecate in the yard or any other available place for all to see. Each tenant pays a few hundred shekels a month. The bottom line is that this apartment is now worth more. When the Africans take over a building, they break down walls and build new ones. They tear down half of a building and make changes for which Israelis would be heavily fined and would receive demolition orders. But the Africans can do whatever they please. The various gangs and ethnic groups have completely taken over. The sidewalks have all been turned into a place to sell stolen goods. The Eritreans are responsible for stolen bicycles, the


June 7, 2013

told us in detail about her situation, about the serious violence. Not just about the murders, the rapes and the drunken bullying that are public knowledge, but about incidents that we hadnt heard about and have not been reported. About the fear of walking on the street. About the anger. About the crude way the infiltrators treat the people in the neighborhood that was theirs until recently. Next, we arrive at a store in the pedestrian mall. The owner was once the chairman of the commerce committee of Naveh Shaanan. Today, he is one of the few Israelis who have remained there. There was another one in the perfume store across the way, but now hes preparing to leave the area. The average rent for such a store used to be $500 a month, the store owner tells us, and residents could make a living. But now it has jumped to NIS 10,000. The Sudanese walk around with wads of cash. Nobody has any idea where they get this money. They give NIS 50,000 or NIS 100,000 to the owner and, voila, they have a store. If I, on the other hand, wanted to open up a restaurant, the Israeli store owner said, Id need to run back and forth to the municipality for two years before getting a permit. But the Sudanese they just open it up. Look around at whats going on here. They defecate in the yards and in the stairwell. They take drugs out in the open in front of everyone. This has become a lawless land. The drug industry has taken hold of the area. The store owner sees IDF soldiers coming here to buy drugs, and when he tries to get them to leave, they laugh at him. Around eight oclock every evening, things turn scary. The Africans begin drinking and they do not know how to hold their liquor. They werent used to drinking alcohol where they come from. Its new for them, and within minutes they become violent. The brawls continue throughout the night, he says. When I come back in the morning, it takes me an hour to clean the blood off the sidewalk, to get rid of the broken bottles, the urine and the feces. So why do you stay? I ask him. Because I benefit from rent control. Where else could I go? I cant afford to leave. If I could, I would run away from this nightmare tonight. We reach the synagogue, or what used to be the synagogue, the place where MK Stern was recently attacked. You can still see the large Star of David on the door, but this is the only sign that until recently in this very place stood a synagogue that was built in 1924. Now a party is being held inside. With beer and hookahs and posters of naked girls. Theres even a poster of Bar Refaeli in one of the inner rooms of the synagogue. What you see here now, the woman tells us, is nothing compared with what goes on here on the weekends. On Saturday and Sunday, it turns into one huge carnival. Theres no room even to walk on the sidewalk. The noise is unbearable. None of us would dare go

outside, even during the daytime. It would be way too dangerous. Business transactions take place on the sidewalks. According to the immigration department and the police, almost everything being sold is stolen. You can find jeans, computers, shoes, perfume, kitchenware, headsets, speakers, wallets and bicycles. You name it you can find it here. And around the neighborhood, every type of business that you can think of just the African version of it. There are hairdressers, wedding salons, music stands, bars, restaurants and even an improvised dental clinic. And every corner hosts cartons of empty beer bottles. An incredibly large amount of beer is being imbibed on the streets of south Tel Aviv these days. As well as a lot of tears. It is not possible to live a normal life today in south Tel Aviv. The neighborhoods that have been taken over are now hostile to Israelis. Anyone who has the means to leave has already left. And the ones who dont have anywhere to go?

committee? No, we didnt. Because everything was fine then. Our lives went on as usual. But now things have changed. Our neighborhood has turned into Africa. I didnt make aliya to Africa. Forty years ago I made aliya to Israel. Ben-Ami also sits with us. Officially, he is the immigration representative, and as such is the one to whom Tel Aviv residents are meant to turn for assistance. And they treat him with great respect; he practically lives there. He is fully aware of the problem and is doing everything he can to deal with it, but his hands are tied. Here is a summary of his report: The state built a detention center in the southern Negev, in which they invested huge sums of money, so that after the law passed and the fence is built, we would be able to transfer the infiltrators from the city centers to the detention center. But Attorney-General Weinstein has not approved the transfer yet. In the meantime, the Finance Ministry realized that they did not have a permit for the center, so it is not

infiltrators. Granted, a fence was built, but this hasnt stopped them from having babies. About 700 African babies are born each year. In addition, there are thousands of Africans who have received treatment in Israeli hospitals, some of which are quite complicated medically. They have a very high incidence of tuberculosis. And their births are also more complicated than regular births. Why are they more complicated, I ask him. Because they come here ready to deliver without ever having gone for a checkup during their pregnancy. The rate of cesarean births is twice as high as the general population, and sometimes 25 percent of the NICU is filled with African babies. This is costing us a fortune, around NIS 50 million a year, and no one is interested in paying for this. So who does pay for it in the end, I ask him. We pay for it out of our own pocket, Barbash says. AND WERE not just talking about births. All of the infrastructure in the neighborhood has been affected: the social institutions and the various services everything in south Tel Aviv is falling apart. And more neighborhoods are being taken over, one after another. In addition, as the number of violent incidents rises, and the safety of residents is affected, more and more Israelis are leaving the area. The education, welfare, health and employment centers are all collapsing. And residents who have stayed write down fake addresses so that their children can go to school in a different area. Visits to the child health centers have become impossible this is a very sensitive issue. The area has been flooded with thousands of people who are willing to work for very low salaries and many Israelis have been pushed out of jobs. Of course, the weak are the first to suffer the people who are already working for minimum wage, such as Israeli Arabs. The Sudanese and Eritreans are taking their place for a quarter of the cost. From the Africans point of view, this is a huge amount of money. They barely pay anything for rent because 20 of them squeeze together in an apartment. Their cost of living is low, they dont pay taxes and they are still able to send home a large portion of their wages each month. An amount that would take them two years to make in Africa. So why are we surprised that they are still coming? There is also a security issue. Immigration officials say that during police raids and visits, some of the infiltrators do not hide the fact that they are freely surfing on Islamic Jihad and al-Qaida websites. Two former IDF chiefs of staff, Shaul Mofaz and Moshe Yaalon, who have walked around the area, admit that a security problem could develop there at any time. Since the thousands of Africans who are infiltrating into Israel MAGAZINE 9

Israeli governments throughout the years never adopted a proper immigration policy. This absurd fact has been the reason that in 2010 and 2011 there were more African infiltrators in Israel than in any European country in absolute terms. Its unbelievable
Weve abandoned them, left them to fend for themselves. Most of them are elderly and weak. Some of them are Holocaust survivors or people with limited financial means who are holding on with the small amount of strength that they have left, hoping that the authorities will come to their aid. But they dont. Every initiative or idea that has been brought up gets stuck due to pressure from the dozens of human rights organizations. But youre only protected if youre African. Israelis in the area lost their rights some time ago. They dont have any organizations supporting them. The media doesnt care about them. They are invisible. LATER ON, after it gets dark, I sit with a large group of residents in a makeshift room at the local police station. Heres a summary of one police report: Ive been living here for 35 years. Now I am stuck in an inferno. Nothing remains here of the old Tel Aviv. My grandchildren dont come visit me anymore. No one comes, for that matter. The Africans in my building alone finish an entire truckload of beer each night. Another resident says, They say we are racist. But thats not true. There have been foreign workers living here for years. They came from China, Thailand, Bulgaria, Turkey, the Philippines and Romania. Did you hear any of us complain about them? Did we form a allocating the funds necessary to run it. And of course the African infiltrators are watching our every move very closely and understand that now they can stay here. Until recently, they thought that Israel was serious about getting rid of them. Every time there is a change, they send messages back home. Up until recently, the message to Africa was: Its great here. Come to Tel Aviv youll be able to find work and have a great time. Then, following the construction of the fence and the threat of being sent to detention centers, the message was changed to: Dont come. The Israeli government is not messing around. Its no longer so easy to get in. And the number of infiltrators really did decrease. But now, I think, the message has once again changed. More are coming again. They realized that everyone who reaches Tel Aviv is safe. They cant touch them here. And theyve figured out something else too; that anyone who has a baby here has even more protection. A baby is seen as an asset, it anchors them here. And as a result, their birthrate has increased since they started bringing their women. The Population, Immigration and Borders Authority claims that there have been about 3,500 African births over the past four years. So I called and spoke with Prof. Gabi Barbash, director of Ichilov Hospital. The data seem accurate, he says. Ichilov is the hospital that treats most of the

pass through Beduin communities in Sinai, which became an official terrorist entity long ago, anything is possible. But of course, as is our custom, until something happens, we wont do anything. Mofaz and Yaalon said what they had to say and went on their way. MUHAMMAD ALI is another resident of south Tel Aviv. Not the boxer the Egyptian. His friends call him the Egyptian Ali. He used to be a tour guide on the Cairo-Tel Aviv route in better days. His Hebrew is impressive, almost literary. One day he lost his Egyptian passport and by a completely Kafkaesque coincidence, Egypt decided that he was an Israeli spy and would not renew his passport. Having no choice, Ali, who became Eli, became Israeli. He received an ID card, became a citizen, married a woman from the Philippines, and has been living in Naveh Shaanan for the last 10 years. Of all of the residents in the neighborhood whom I met, Eli the Egyptian explains the situation the best. I worked in a laundromat for six years, he says. Until the Africans came and took over the building, the yard, the basement, the street the entire neighborhood. Im very friendly with an older Holocaust survivor couple who have no children. They live in my building. They were beaten up three or four times until they couldnt take it any longer. At some point they were so scared that they wouldnt even open the door for me. They would ask me to call the police for them, to say that they had been beaten up. The policeman told me they have to come down to the station to lodge a complaint. Theyre 85 years old, I told him, and scared to leave their house. How can they come down to the station? Its dangerous to walk around in this area. The Africans harass all of the women. Theyre not afraid of anyone. They build their own electrical infrastructure and as a result there are endless fires. But until a catastrophe occurs, nothing will be done about it. And rent keeps going up because landlords can get more money from the Africans since so many live together in one apartment. The owner of the laundromat told me, Im sorry, but the Eritreans will do the same work you do, but for NIS 1,500, so I dont need you anymore. Ive been unemployed for a year now. My wife was assaulted twice in Naveh Shaanan by Eritreans on drugs. They drink huge quantities of alcohol, have taken over the apartments, the stores, all industry and all of the jobs. Sometimes I think Im the only one who still lives here in Naveh Shaanan. Yesterday, after what happened to MK Stern, a police patrol car accompanied me home. If you walk around here after 10 p.m., within minutes one of them will approach you and ask you, What you are looking for? What do you want? When one attacked my wife, I tried to hit him back, and within 60 seconds I was surrounded by 20 of his buddies. Listen, Im not even Jewish. Im a Muslim Egyptian. But what I saw yesterday, when he stamped on Elazar Sterns kippa, wouldnt have even happened in Cairo. A RESIDENT of the Hatikva neighborhood said the following: All of the young people have left the neighborhood. Only the elderly have remained. There are no more children. We didnt hear any children singing this past Hanukka in the kindergartens. I live just a few meters from the outdoor market and Im afraid to walk around with a bag. If you walk around with a bag, they snatch it from you. And theyve taken over all the jobs of the older men who would carry the merchandise. Theyve taken over all of the apartments and all of the jobs. Theres nothing left. On Holocaust Remembrance Day I asked them to be respectful, not to make barbecues. In response they made a motion as if to cut their throat. Go back to Russia, one of them told me. This is not your country. Another resident of a neighborhood nearby told me the following: A few months ago, a Sudanese man attacked my sister next to her house. He broke her jaw and her teeth and shes still undergoing serious treatment. Shes completely traumatized. I see such horrors when I walk down the street. So awful I cant even put it in words. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to check if this is actually happening here, in the middle of Tel Aviv. I call the police, but they cant do anything about it. The stories are endless. People describe their feelings of loneliness and how they cant believe that the state has abandoned them here. The public areas have become hostile, alien, dangerous. The residents of south Tel Aviv are on their own. There is one organization that is trying to help. Eitan the center for Israeli immigration is a small and courageous nonprofit organization that is the only one willing to face the human rights organizations, which are fighting to protect the infiltrators. The group is not made up by Kahanists or My Israel activists, but by three young people who are not associated with any political party, and who are interested in this issue for the same reasons I am to help those whove been left behind. The nonprofit is run by Yonatan Yakobovich, Orli Yogir and Tamar Golan. They deal with the infiltrator issue 24 hours a day and are funding its activity out of their own pockets they havent received many contributions. They spend their time running from Knesset committee meetings to the alleyways of south Tel Aviv to investigate whats happening on the street. They are imbued with real passion. Here is a summary of their findings: It all begins with the fact that Israeli governments throughout the years never adopted a proper immigration policy. This absurd fact has been the reason that in 2010 and 2011 there were more African infiltrators in Israel than in any European country in absolute terms. Its unbelievable. Leftist and human rights organizations are taking advantage of this political vacuum to change Israel from a country for Jews to a country for everyone. Proof that this is their real intention can be found in a research study that was written for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, in which an unnamed activist in an NGO that aids infiltrators admitted that they do not overtly state this goal so as not to harm their strategic struggle. The Eitan activists say that they are not dealing with refugees, but with infiltrators looking for work the ones the left-wing umbrella of organizations protects through lies and baseless myths. The first myth is that these Africans crossed Africa and Sinai on foot to reach the Promised Land. Most of the Eritreans came through Sudan, where there is a large UN station for refugees. From there, a place where they are not in any danger, they continue by plane to Cairo. Another UN refugee station awaits them in Cairo, but theyre not really interested in it. There they meet up with Beduin smugglers who, in exchange for a large amount of money, are willing to take them (not on foot) to the fence. They then cross over, and from there they receive a ride from the Israeli authorities to Tel Aviv. The refugee myth: Most of them come from Eritrea and Sudan. Eritrea is a dictatorship, which enforces lengthy compulsory military service. But the war ended in 2000. Asmara is considered one of the safest cities in Africa. Eritreans living around the world, mostly in the US and in Europe, flock there in the thousands for vaca-

AFRICAN MIGRANTS and refugees wait in a charity food line.


June 7, 2013

tion. Except for religious minorities, no one is being persecuted there. According to data and research studies, Eritreans are not refugees. In interviews with Eritrean infiltrators, they readily admit that they came to Israel to improve their financial situation. The violence in Darfur has cooled down and the number of mass murders has shrunk considerably. Except for a few areas, Sudanese do not fear for their lives. Europe consistently rejects requests for asylum and does not accept every African who calls himself a refugee. In Europe, most requests for asylum are rejected and the number of Sudanese who receive refugee status there is very low. SO WHY doesnt Israel also send them home? With the Sudanese, the problem is technical. We dont have diplomatic relations with Sudan, which is considered an enemy country. However, they could be returned through a third country. After the infiltrator law became public, and the threat that they might not be able to continue working but will be send to the detention center, thousands left of their own volition. But then a campaign began following the publication of the article in Haaretz, and everything came to a standstill. The attorney-general got cold feet and stopped the quiet return of the infiltrators and thats how we got to where we are now. In the meantime, the courts have been overwhelmed with lawsuits designed to thwart the states efforts to solve the problem. The quick drop-offs of infiltrators on the Egyptian side of the fence have stopped as a result of these suits, even though Italy drops off Africans in Libya and Spain brings them to Morocco. In addition, the High Court of Justice forbid the Hadera-Gedera initiative, which would have prevented African nationals from working in any city that falls between these two cities, ie. all of the Center, thereby removing their incentive for coming to Israel. Another suit forced the state to explicitly commit not to enforce the law prohibiting employers from hiring illegal infiltrators until a detention center to house them is built. And yet another suit against the legality of the fence compelled Israel to let in anyone who reaches the border and asks to come in. A situation was created in which Israel cant protect its borders or itself. No other country in the world lives like this. And for the very same reason, Weinstein is currently pushing to delay the transfer of infiltrators to the detention centers that were built expressly for this purpose. An amendment to the law preventing infiltration, which passed in January 2012, allowed the state to transfer every illegal infiltrator to the detention center for three years. This amendment is considered the real reason why infiltration to Israel slowed down. And then another High Court appeal against this law was filed, which will be voted on this month. Who knows, maybe the wish of millions of Africans to work in Tel Aviv will come true following this ruling. If there is a fence, what do we need this law for? Its very simple. The average salary in Eritrea is $350 a year. An infiltrator can make this kind of money in one month in Israel, even after you take his living expenses into account. Thats a huge draw for them. No fence can stop them. If every infiltrator who succeeds in reaching Tel Aviv finds work, then they will all find a way to get through the fence. By sea, through Jordan, through the tunnels it will happen. The Eritreans themselves are the first to admit that the law, and not the fence, was the reason they stopped coming. The number fell from thousands a month to only a few dozen this month even before the fence was finished, but after the amendment went into effect. One might ask if 60,000 to 80,000 people can really affect the demography of the State of Israel. Dont forget that their birthrate is very high. If their status here is settled, they will be able to bring their relatives. There has already been a precedent for this in the form of administrative appeals that have been filed. Israel is not the US or Britain. Our population is small to begin with. Our largest city, Tel Aviv, has already lost a few of its neighborhoods to infil trators. Israel cannot sustain further losses. Translated by Hannah Hochner. Postscript: On Monday, this paper reported that an unnamed country has agreed to absorb Eritrean migrants deported from Israel and that Israel is in talks with two other countries to allow Sudanese migrants to return by way of their territory. MAGAZINE 11