Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

American Jews Urge Israel To Not Deport African Refugees

A group of American Jewish leaders sent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a letter Monday urging him to rethink plans to deport tens of thousands of African refugees — and to do the “Jewish thing” and recognize them as refugees “deserving protection.”

“We are asking Israel to do the right thing, the Jewish thing, to be a light unto the nations in the way we treat the strangers among us,” read the letter sent by heads of groups the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; the immigration advocacy group HIAS; the National Council of Jewish Women and T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights.

The group sent an earlier letter to the Israeli prime minister in November asking him not to deport asylum seekers from Africa. Netanyahu responded by challenging the characterization of African migrants as refugees. The Monday letter was meant as a response to Netanyahu’s claims.

“We know that many of [the Africans] are indeed asylum seekers and refugees deserving of protection, and we are deeply concerned for their welfare,” the new letter read.

“We also know that outside of Israel approximately 56 percent of Sudanese and 84% of Eritrean asylum applicants have been accepted as refugees. The fact that fewer than 1% of Sudanese and Eritrean asylum applicants in Israel have received refugee status casts serious doubts on the validity of Israel’s asylum process as it currently stands.”

Israel’s cabinet approved a plan last week to deport nearly 40,000 African migrants to either their own countries or another African nation. Government ministers in Israel advanced a plan last month to imprison migrants who refuse to leave voluntarily.

Email Sam Kestenbaum at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @skestenbaum

Engage

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.