Hundreds of Israeli rabbis have launched a programme to protect African asylum seekers facing forced expulsion from their homes.
The Israeli government is planning to deport the refugees en masse starting in from April
The activist rabbis claim their schemes is “Anne Frank-inspired”
The Independent reports: The sister of comedian Sarah Silverman is among those leading the movement which hopes to help around 40,000 African asylum seekers, largely from Sudan and Eritrea.
The Israeli government is intending to deport them en masse from April and over the coming two years.
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this month, will see African asylum seekers presented with the option of either accepting $3,500 (£2,500) and a plane ticket to an undefined country or taking an indefinite jail sentence.
However, Israeli media has reported that some asylum seekers have faced torture of even human trafficking after being sent to Rwanda and Uganda by the Israeli government.
The majority of asylum seekers in Israel are from Eritrea (73 per cent) and Sudan (19 per cent) and an average of only 0.15 per cent of people filling in asylum claims are ultimately recognised as refugees, according to the Hotline for Refugees.
To counter this, The Anne Frank Home Sanctuary launched by Rabbis for Human Rights aims to house asylum seekers.
“Who here would be willing to house people?” asked Rabbi Susan Silverman at a gathering of rabbis and educators in Jerusalem.
All 130 or so people in the room immediately raised her hands, Israeli newspaper Haaretz, reported.
Rabbi Silverman, who immigrated from Boston to Israel in 2006, said her idea to physically “hide” refugees in Israeli homes was inspired by US sanctuary cities and states, which are used to fight the deportation of immigrants who entered the US illegally.
Anne Frank has also inspired the programme. The teenager became one of the most famous Jewish victims of the Holocaust after her diary of her life as a German Jew in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam in World War Two was published in 1947.
She died at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp when she was 15-years-old.
As well as sheltering asylum seekers, Rabbis for Human Rights said its members also intend to accompany asylum seekers on tours to the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem – Israel’s Holocaust museum and memorial. The Righteous Among the Nations were non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.
The group hopes to “wake up the Jewish world” according to an internal memo.
“People risked their lives to save Jews and we as a country are now saying we don’t want to risk the tiniest demographic shift,” Rabbi Silverman told Haaretz.
“We have a prime minister who is quoting Pharaoh when he says [of the asylum seekers] that their numbers will grow.”
African asylum seekers have crossed the continent in the past decade and entered Israel at its southern border in a bid to seek better lives and in some cases seek refuge from wars. Only ten have ever been recognised by the state as refugees, according to the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees – eight Eritreans and two Sudanese.
The Rabbis for Human Rights group said it is also considering protesting at the offices of airlines willing to transport deportees to Africa and also plans to launch a large-scale social media campaign labelling Israel’s leaders and ministers as racists