Benefit Packages

Israel to African nations: take our asylum seekers and we will give you arms.

A party for African immigrant children in the Hatikva neighberhood of Tel Aviv, 2012 (Photo: Tal King, via Flickr CC).

Over the last few days more details have come to light about Israel’s operation to deport African asylum seekers back to the continent, to whichever country wants to take them in exchange for “benefit packages.”  On Tuesday  Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth published an article in Hebrew, followed by a slightly different English version on its website revealing that the Israeli government  is about to close a deal with at least three African countries to provide them with the “benefits packages” in exchange to absorbing thousands of asylum seekers from Africa who currently reside in Israel. Israel’s chief negotiator for the talks was the former senior Mossad official, Hagai Hadas,  appointed by the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

In the article–the Hebrew version is headlined “‘Arms for infiltrators'” (refugees and asylum seekers are routinely referred to as infiltrators in Israeli media)–the package is described by a senior official as containing security aid, including Israeli arms and military knowledge and training. These, along with a grant that will be given to the deportees, “will contribute to the economies of those countries.”

A second Israeli official told Yedioth Ahronoth on Tuesday that Israel continues to explore the possibility of returning Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers to their home countries. Israel already took such measures in the recent past, despite the risks involved to the Sudanese coming from a country with no diplomatic relations with Sudan, to repatriate about 2,100 Sudanese back to Sudan. Sudanese media reported last month that Sudanese authorities have been interrogating those who have lived in Israel and returned to their country supposedly secretly through Jordan.

Israeli media reports that for the last few days the Israeli Administration of Border Crossings, Population and Immigration, has been getting imprisoned Eritreans asylum seekers in Saharonim prison to sign “willful emigration” documents that allow deporting them from Israel. This process, revealed by Amnesty International and the Israeli Hotline for Migrant Workers, follows the Attorney General of Israel decision to approve this procedure two weeks ago.

Further Reading

The imperial forest

Gregg Mitman’s ‘Empire of Rubber’ is less a historical reading of Liberia than a history of America and racial capitalism through the lens of a US corporate giant.

Africa’s next great war

The international community’s limited attention span is laser-focused on jihadism in the Sahel and the imploding Horn of Africa. But interstate war is potentially brewing in the eastern DRC.

The Cape Colony

The campaign to separate South Africa’s Western Cape from the rest of the country is not only a symptom of white privilege, but also of the myth that the province is better run.

Between East Africa and the Gulf

Political encounters between the Arab Gulf and Africa span centuries. Mahmud Traouri’s novel ‘Maymuna’ demonstrates the significant role of a woman’s journey from East Africa to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Āfrīqāyī

It’s not common knowledge that there is Iran in Africa and there is Africa in Iran. But there are commonplace signs of this connection.

It could happen to us

Climate negotiations have repeatedly floundered on the unwillingness of rich countries, but let’s hope their own increasing vulnerability instills greater solidarity.

Defying defeat

Political prisoner Alaa Abd El-Fattah’s collection of writings are a powerful and evocative reminder that democracy in Egypt remains a bleak prospect.