Jewish Journal


June 20, 2012

Can a very small country have a very big heart?



South Sudanese refugee Samuel Akue prepares for his deportation from Israel, June 11, 2012. Photo by REUTERS/Baz Ratner

My recent article for IHT-New York Times deals with Israel’s deportation of African illegal foreign workers. Israel was forcing 120 South Sudanese to leave the country on Sunday, starting what could develop into a deportation of thousands of unauthorized African migrants who have poured into the Jewish state. Here are a couple of paragraphs from my article:

It is heartbreaking, even shocking, to see Israelis making racist comments and taking actions that smack of hate. It is also unsurprising. Israel is a small country, obsessed with the need to guard its Jewish majority. It is also too small to absorb so many poor illegal migrants.

For the last two weeks Israelis have been debating the many complications of this problem. Questions of morality are naturally raised, coupled with considerations of the unique history of their country with its roots in immigration and persecution of the Jews. These issues have no easy solutions, and can perhaps be summed up in one question: Can a very small country have a very big heart?

The answer, sadly, is no. Not always, anyway. Given our history, demography, current political circumstances and values, a serious effort to block illegal immigration from Africa – or any other region — is essential. It is essential if we want Israel to remain Jewish. It is essential if we want Israel to remain prosperous.

You can read the full article here.

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