Israel Asylum Seekers


Today, we take you to Israel where once again tensions are rising, this time not sparked by external threats and fears, but from those within. A recent influx of African refugees has many Israelis worried and a few downright angry. The country, created as beacon for persecuted Jews, is now divided about its obligations to others in need of asylum.

Part Three of The Current

Israel Asylum Seekers - Survey Research & Political Communications

We started this segment with the sound of a angry race riot in Tel Aviv last month. About one thousand people protesting the recent influx of African migrants -- mostly from Eritrea and Sudan -- grew violent and attacked some people they believed were illegal migrants.

Newspapers blamed speeches by right wing Israeli politicians for inflaming the crowd. Knesset Member Miri Regev has called the refugees "a cancer in our body." Another member of the Knesset suggested the Israeli Defence Forces should shoot at anyone crossing into Israeli territory. There have been other protests in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, where earlier this week an apartment housing 10 Eritreans was firebombed.

Israel's immigration authority estimates that about sixty thousand illegal migrants currently live in the country.

Mitchell Barak is the CEO of Keevoon Global Research, a survey research and political communications firm in Israel. He has also served as as an aide to President Shimon Peres and worked for Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Netanyahu and Yitzak Shamir. Mitchell Barak joined us from Jerusalem.

Israel Asylum Seekers - African Refugee Center & Asylum Seeker

Our next guest has felt the rising temperature in Israeli public opinion. Adam Ibrahim is a 28-year-old asylum seeker from Darfur. He believes the Israelis of all people should be more tolerant of refugees. And Yohannes Bayu is executive director of the African Refugee Development Center in Israel. Adam Ibrahim is a 28-year-old asylum seeker from Darfur. They were both in Tel Aviv.

This segment was produced by The Current's Kristin Nelson and Josh Bloch.

Last Word - The Majestic Plastic Bag

We've been talking today about Toronto's decision to ban one-use plastic shopping bags. Just last month, Los Angeles voted to phase out the use of plastic shopping bags after years of lobbying by environmentalists. Some estimates suggest Californians use as many as 12 billion plastic bags a year.

As part of its lobbying efforts, one environmental group produced a fake nature channel documentary that charts the migration of the bags from the city's shops to the depths of the sea. On today's Last Word, a little of The Majestic Plastic Bag, narrated by actor Jeremy Irons.

Other segments from today's show:

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