Israel has recently developed a serious illegal immigration problem. Given its location, Israel is vulnerable to migration flows, particularly from Africa, and uninvited visitors have been entering Israel in considerable numbers. Official estimates place the number of recent African migrants inside the country at 60,000, and rising by as much as 2,000 per month.
The Israeli media, even on the left, has been frank in its depictions of how these Africans are bringing not “diversity” to Israel, and not vibrancy and interesting ethnic food either, but rather crime and disorder. The response of many Israelis has ranged from annoyance to outrage, and the current Likud-led government has reacted quickly and decisively.
In response to protests in Tel Aviv last May by angry Israelis who fear the country is turning into a refugee camp, several Knesset members for Likud spoke bluntly. Miri Regev called the illegal migrants a “cancer in our body,” while Danny Danon was even more direct: “We must expel the infiltrators from Israel. We should not be afraid to say the words ‘expulsion now’.”
Employing language that I can’t imagine any other Western government using, Interior Minister Eli Yishai explained that the root of the problem is that the uninvited arrivals, heavily African and Muslim, “do not even believe that this country belongs to us, to the white man.” In June, Yishai oversaw the enactment of new laws which aim at solving the problem. Now, illegal immigrants can be jailed for up to three years, pending deportation, while Israelis who assist illegals face prison sentences ranging from five to fifteen years. Yishai has continued to match tough talk with tough action, most recently announcing that Sudanese illegals have until October 15 to leave Israel – if they do not they will be rounded up en masse. Yishai’s policies have caused Israeli bleeding hearts to, well, bleed, not least because some of the Sudanese illegals claim to be survivors of the Darfur genocide, but the interior minister, who cleared failed to get the memo that “people are not illegal,” is sticking to his guns.
Despite this toughness, migrants continue to enter Israel, and many Israelis are clamoring for more to be done. In response, Prime Minister Netanyahu last week announced the appointment of a new official to seal the border and stop illegals from entering Israel. The selectee is Haggai Hadas, a fifty-nine year old career MOSSAD operative who retired as the third-highest-ranking officer in the service. Considered a badass even by MOSSAD’s high standards of badassery, he was named head of Caesarea, the super-spooky unit for “special actions” (read: assassinations), in 1997, after the embarrassingly botched attempted hit on HAMAS leader Khaled Mashal. Hadas restored morale and professionalism in the ranks of the elite unit, the pointy end of Israel’s secret spear. Later, Hadas headed efforts to recover the captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit.
It will be interesting to see if Hadas, who enjoys a reputation as a first-class fixer, can bring the real border security to Israel which the public is clamoring for. I’m not a big fan of Benjamin Netanyahu, whom I generally consider to be shady and insincere on a good day, but I’ll give him credit for showing that border security, an issue which effects most Western democracies at this point, is a serious matter which ought to be handled by tough-minded professionals.
If his tenure goes well, maybe we can hire Hadas to head up ICE, because I doubt the White House would dare make a former head of CIA Special Activities Division or a former JSOC commander the czar for securing the our border.
At a minimum, if Mitt Romney wins the election two months out, perhaps he can get his old pal Bibi to share some “best practices” on immigration and border security.