Illegal Eritrean Immigrants Clash

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Like the United States, Israel was built on a common idea of freedom from tyranny and religious persecution. For generations both have had a distinct common identity that all immigrants, no matter their origin, adopted. For Israel, the common identity has been political Zionism and the Jewish religion.

Since its founding in 1948, Jews from around the world have immigrated to the only Jewish nation. In some cases they were fleeing from Arab states that drove them from their countries, and in others it is the belief in the Zionist dream. Many of the early founders were Eastern European Jews fleeing the Holocaust and post War Europe. They were Ashkenazi Jews whose background was either socialist or orthodox religious. Those from the Middle East, know as Sephardic Jews, had lived in majority Muslim nations for generations and culturally were distinct from European Jews. But in the end, they all were Jews and had a common idea about living in a Jewish State that would protect them from persecution they faced in the Diaspora.

It is often said that “diversity is our strength” from left leaning Americans and Europeans. That may be true, but only when the core belief system is central to everyone’s identity. Israel has integrated Jews from drastically different cultures since its founding. Waves of immigrants from Yemen and Ethiopia came to Israel from primitive countries, and needed to be taught Western culture. But because they were Jews, both immigrants and veterans were committed to integration. It was an arduous process and many in the first generation fell between the cracks. But you now see their children thriving in all areas of Israeli society.

Around 2010, political turmoil in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan led to a mass migration north towards Israel. Unlike borders with Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, there was no barrier fence between the Egyptian Sinai and southern Israel. By the end of 2010, over 24,000 illegal migrants had crossed into Israel and by 2012, nearly 60,000. The breakdown of country of origin was 34,000 from Eritrea, 15,000 from Sudan and 10,000 from other African nations, primarily Ethiopia. Israel responded by building a border fence with sophisticated electronic monitoring. In subsequent years, the number of migrants has been reduced to double digits.

Like is being experienced in the US, these migrants had no cultural ties to Judaism or Israel. Though it is disputed, the vast majority came for economic reasons. International NGOs have claimed these were political refugees and thereby illegal for Israel to deport. While many have left and Israel is incentivizing others to leave, they have settle primarily in south Tel Aviv and Eilat. Neighborhoods they have settled are violent and crime ridden. Several elderly women have been raped and murdered, while drug trafficking has exploded. Prior to the wave of migrants, the south Tel Aviv neighborhood was patrolled by 4 to 5 officers. Today, the police have deployed around 200 officers.

In this latest incident, rival political groups among the Eritreans held a protest and counter protest that led to violence. Eritreans from pro and anti-Eritrean government factions attacked each other with construction materials, rocks and in at least one case an axe. Protesters smashed shop windows and police cars. Local police were initially overwhelmed and to get the situation under control officers used tear gas, stun grenades, and eventually live rounds. Over 150 protestors and 15 police officers were injured.

As a result, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu called for the deportation illegal migrants. They have no place in Israel culturally or religiously, and have upset the balance of neighborhoods they have settled. There are nearly 40,000 that remain in Israel, so removing them will be a difficult task given the political environment.

To tie this back to the situation in the US, the percentage of population that successfully infiltrated the country before the wall was just 0.1%. The equivalent would be around 4 million in the US. Under the Biden Administration, we have seen 6 million illegal immigrants. And similar to Israel, American cities are being overrun by illegal migrants that are here for one reason, economic conditions. They will never likely assimilate. They will not buy into the American system. They will never learn the language. No matter the country, migrants without cultural, language, religious or other bonds will result in a situation that is not tolerable for the citizens or migrant community.

Borders matter and border security is paramount for a nation to survive. Fences and walls are effective, as demonstrated with Israel’s border fences. However, it requires the will of the government and security forces to enforce.

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