B’nai B’rith International is deeply concerned about the disturbances that erupted during anti-African migrant demonstrations that took place over the last week in Tel Aviv.
B’nai B’rith is hopeful that the Israeli government and leaders of civil society will work together to do everything in their power to secure the country’s borders, while meeting their international obligations to ensure the safety of legitimate refugees and treating all migrants humanely.
On May 23 a riot against African migrants resulted in 17 arrests after African passers-by were attacked and property was destroyed. On May 30 an Israeli of Ethiopian descent was mistaken for an illegal migrant and verbally attacked then hit, resulting in five arrests.
Because Israel is a country of such economic opportunity and tolerance, it has been faced with a large influx of migrants—many from failed states in Africa including Sudan and Eritrea, a country whose conscription involves 20 years of service. While many of these people can legitimately claim refugee asylum status, many of those migrants who are coming to Israel seeking economic opportunity cannot. Israel should meet its international obligations to determine how to distinguish those who are legitimate refugees from illegal migrants and how to properly treat illegal migrants until such time as they can return to their home countries.
B’nai B’rith welcomes the actions of the Netanyahu administration in denouncing the riots and in working to develop solutions to border security. While we understand the anxiety and frustration of those Israelis personally faced with consequences of unchecked illegal immigration into the country, this should never be allowed to deteriorate into violence.