Tuesday, August 21, 2007

USING ASYLUM SEEKERS AS A WEAPON

The Age's Ed O'Loughlin is back in town with a story of how Israel has returned 50 Sudanese refugees sneaked across the country's border back to Egypt [Israel starts deporting refugees from Darfur].

True to form, O'Loughlin fails to understand the nuances of the situation concerning the story of the Sudanese refugees so he beats his story up instead to do what he's best at - bashing Israel at every possible opportunity.

In recent months Israel has become a much sought after safe haven for Darfur asylum seekers. Many of them have arrived there culturally disoriented, emotionally and psychologically traumatized and ill equipped to negotiate their way through the day to day challenges of life in a new country. Some of those seeking asylum however, are "economic" migrants who have arrived with the help of professional people smugglers from Egypt. O'Loughlin blurs the distinction between genuine asylum seekers and the "economic" migrants who are simply jumping the queue.

The Egytians have been hostile to the genuine refugees and have done nothing to discourage the people smuggling activites and, as O'Loughlin points out at the end of his article, there have been reports of Egyptian troops killing returning Sudanese in cold blood (but when this happened it was not a story fit for the Age).

O'Loughlin concedes that a majority of Israel's 120 parliamentarians, including opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu recently signed a petition calling on the Government to allow Sudanese refugees to remain in Israel until another country could be found to take them.

He rightly points out that the Israeli estimate of about 2800 mainly African migrants and refugees who have illegally crossed its border in recent years is "a low figure compared with the flood of would-be migrants to European Union states" (but he ignores the fact that some of those EU states are substantially larger in size and population than tiny Israel).

O'Loughlin also ignores the fact that Israel, as a member of the community of nations, has a long history and tradition as an asylum provider to refugees from other countries including non-Jewish asylum seekers such as the boat people from Vietnam in the 60's and 70's, those from the Balkan Wars and other places throughout its history.

However, O'Loughlin's greatest transgression is his failure to mention that Israel is working on a strategy for the Darfurian asylum seekers that is to be linked with strategies of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. The Darfurian refugees who have come to Australia (there are about 500 of them) have come to this country through this process. O'Loughlin is aware of the UNHCR because he quotes in his article its figures of the number of African migrants trying to cross Israel's desert border with Egypt. He should also be aware but doesn't tell his readers that Israel already has declared 500 Sudanese as are genuine asylum seekers from Darfur.

For a more balanced view, readers should consult the Australian's Israel refuses sanctuary to new Darfur refugees which provides a more detailed analysis of the refugee debate within Israel.

The arrival of the Darfurians has caught the Israeli government off-guard and much of the burden for the care of these refugees is currently being met by volunteer organizations.

Another O'Loughlin omission is his failure to refer to the work being done within Israel to assist the needy Darfur asylum seekers such as the project being carried out in the southern Israeli city of Arad by volunteers from the World Labor Zionist Movement (and its Australian counterpart Ameinu) and the Kibbutz Movement have been working with about 100 Darfurian refugees and in particular their children who have arrived in Israel.

This is the meaning of "asylum" Mr. O'Loughlin - not pure propaganda with which to beat Israel and its people over the head.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

There is no more evidence of racism than this article with its inflammatory headlines (there was a change on the online some time during the morning to make it softer), its errors and the facts that it omits to present.

O'Loughlin expects Israel, a tiny country of no more than seven million people, surrounded by hostile nations including an Islamist ministate whose objective is to commit genocide against the Jews, to take proportionately greater responsibility than the European Union?

O'Loughlin cried tears of disproportionality when the Lebanon War took place but how much space has he given to Muslim countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia and their treatment of Darfurian refugees?

Why did he not cover the coldblooded murder of Sudanese trying to enter Egypt last month?

Morry said...

The par between O'Laughlin's bigotry and Israeli reality is immense. Whilst our Ed would paint Israel as a racist, apartheid state, the reality is that people were lining up to offer Darfurian refugees places in their homes.

gulliver_on_tour said...

It is truly shameful that the same newspaper on the same day saw fit to publish an editorial about racist attacks on Jews at Glicks Bagels - http://www.theage.com.au/news/editorial/aussie-pride-australian-shame/2007/08/20/1187462172475.html

This is the same newspaper that publishes on a regular basis ant-Israel rhetoric that comes close to bigotry and racism against the same victims of these attacks and which ignored the attacks by drunken yobbos on an orthodox Jew after last year's Caulfield Cup meeting. Other newspapers were all over that story.

O'Loughlin is all over any story that puts the Jewish State in a bad light.

To the editor of this despicable newspaper - we don't need your sympathy or your pithy editorials.