-- May 20, 2012- African Migrants, Jerusalem Day

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Israel Update
A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

May 20, 2012- African Migrants, Jerusalem Day

Over the weekend the main topic of discussion in the Israeli media has been the problem of the illegal immigrants from Africa that are now populating South Tel Aviv, along with some other locations. Illegal immigrants have continued to pour in to Israel through a still too porous Egyptian border. This renewed interest is a result a few well publicized crimes by the Africans, as well as the rising tide of complaints from the remaining native residents of the area. The government has proposed a number of steps to help address this problem, including: racing towards completion of the border fence between Israel and Sinai, the creation of a large dentention facility for the illegal immigrants to live in.

However, the most controversial questions center on whether or not to allow these illegal immigrants to work. One view insists that as long as they can work, they will earn so much more money than they were receiving back in their African homelands, that it will just encourage more illegal immigrants to come. The other view, argued by many, including the commander of Israel's police, is that it is in our interest to give them work. Since, if they do not work, they will have no choice but to turn to crime to feed themselves.

There is no question that Israel cannot absorb the numbers of illegal immigrants that are here. The best guess is that there are at least 50,000 illegal African migrants living in the country at the moment (with more than half that number likely situated in South Tel Aviv.) What to do, is unfortunately a significant moral dilemma that begs any simple answer.

Today is Jerusalem Day. It is the day we are supposed to commemorate the liberation of East Jerusalem, and the unification of the city 45 years ago. I have to say, other than a few more radio reports on the state of Jerusalem today, if you do not live in Jerusalem, you would not note any difference between today and any other day. In Israel, after 45 years, the shine has certainly worn off the day.

This week are the next round of talks between the major powes and Iran. There are all sorts of rumors circulating. I will reserve comment until some facts become known.

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