Monday, August 20, 2007

Israel and refugees

The Guardian today has a piece about Israel's appalling attitude to refugees. A country which was founded by people fleeing genocide is now rejecting others who are also fleeing genocide (in the form of Sudanese from Darfur). This is contrary to Israel's obligations under the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. Under the Convention, Israel is required to assess whether refugee claimants have "a well-founded fear of persecution", and grant them asylum if they do. In doing so, they may not discriminate on the basis of race, religion or country of origin, and they may not punish asylum-seekers for illegally entering the country. Israel is doing both, denying asylum to all people from "enemy states" (including Sudan) even when they are being persecuted by that state, and deporting anyone who enters illegally regardless of claims to asylum.

In light of the history of Jewish refugees fleeing to Palestine in the face of inhumane British restrictions on immigration, this can only be viewed as grossly hypocritical.