Sunday, November 08, 2009

Illegal Palestinian Arab immigration to Europe

Last week, a boat carrying illegal immigrants bound for Europe sank off the coast of Turkey - and at least four of the dead were Palestinian Arabs. From Haber:
BODRUM (A.A) - 06.11.2009 - Death toll reached six, including a Turkish citizen and three children, after a boat carrying illegal immigrants capsized off the Aegean coast of Turkey late Thursday, Turkish authorities said.

Coast guard and rescue teams recovered bodies of an Afghan illegal immigrant and a baby off Bodrum on Friday, officials said.

The Europe-bound boat was carrying illegal migrants from Palestine when it capsized off Bodrum's Akyarlar coast late Thursday. Four bodies were found earlier, while one was reported missing. Coast guard is still searching for the missing woman.

The number of immigrants rescued was reported 13 early on Friday.

The story of Palestinian Arabs risking their lives to illegally immigrate to Europe is one that gets swept under the rug. If it is mentioned at all it is assumed that Israeli policies are forcing this to happen, as this sickening Independent report said in 2007:

Sixty-five years ago, the rickety boats fighting through the towering waves of the Mediterranean towards a new home were crammed with Jews escaping Nazi persecution. Today the boats are plying in the opposite direction, towards Europe, and increasingly their cargo is Palestinians - fleeing the living hell of Palestine.
Go down a few paragraphs and you will see the "hell" that the Palestinian Arabs were escaping was not Israeli "occupation" but rather daily life under the PA:
Later Abdelsiih Mohammed Ecsim (as the authorities recorded his name), a boy who marked his 14th birthday during the crossing, said through a Palestinian interpreter, "It was dark, I was shaking with fear - but only at the end, before that I was shaking with cold."

"I ran away from Ramallah," he went on, "that's where my parents live. At Ramallah I went to school in the morning and worked as a bricklayer in the afternoon." By his reckoning the sea journey took nine days. With the other Palestinians he had fled his home town by lorry, hidden under tarpaulins, driving for many hours before arriving in some kind of reception centre, where they were joined by Sudanese from the Darfur region.
So while the Independent is comparing life in Ramallah with European death camps, it is clear that a lot of Palestinian Arabs really don't want to live in Palestine to begin with.

These are not isolated cases. According to Frontex, an organization that monitors Europe's borders,
The 1st phase of operation Poseidon 2007 took place on 15 May – 3 June 2007. During the sea part of the operation 910 illegal immigrants were intercepted, 194 forged or falsified travel documents were detected, 88 illegal immigrants were diverted to the country of departure and 13 facilitators were arrested. Main nationalities of illegal migrants identified during the operation were: Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq and Albania.

As for the land part of the operation, during this phase there were 70 refusals of entry at border crossing points, with the highest at the Bulgarian green border. Moreover there were 52 administrative offences at the border crossing points. At the green borders, 657 illegal migrants were apprehended. The main apprehensions took place at the Turkish-Greek border and the Albanian-Greek border. The main nationalities of those apprehended were Albanian, Iraqi, Palestinian, Afghan and Georgian.
Europol describes the phenomenon of illegal immigration into Europe and accurately describes the fact that people choose to make such a move more because off the "pull" of a better life rather than the "push" of how bad their lives are now:
The reasons why migrants leave their home countries are commonly referred to as ‘push factors’ and can include conflicts, dissolution and/or disintegration of multicultural states, natural disasters or other environmental problems, discrimination, political instability or poor economic situations. Although poverty, conflict and disasters are all powerful push factors, they tend to cause local or regional migration, not international facilitated illegal immigration. Poor and war-torn states are less interesting for the facilitators of illegal immigration since people in these states usually cannot pay the huge fees these facilitators demand.

Paired with the push factors are the so called ‘pull factors’, those criteria that make a destination country attractive to a prospective migrant. These factors may include the need for a labour force, a positive economic situation, democratic governance with political and social stability, and various historical or cultural links between the source and destination country, but especially the presence of large communities from the source countries in the destination countries.
The economy in the West Bank is as attractive as the economy in most Arab countries. They aren't being "pushed" out by horrendous living conditions - if they were, they would tend to want to move to neighboring states.

The answer can be seen in an Arabic Palestine Press Agency article about this tragedy:
Turkey is an important route of illegal migration from Asia to Europe because of the refusal of Arab states to absorb them. The illegal immigrants come from Africa and the Middle East, especially Palestinians.

A combination of their statuses of perpetual statelessness, forced on them by their Arab brethren (which makes living in other Arab countries no more attractive than staying put,) and the possibility of financial success in Europe, cause them to want to leave.

This is enormously embarrassing to Palestinian Arab leaders. They want to push the myth of a deep, historic connection between their people and Palestine, when in fact historically Arabs moved freely between all lands in the Middle East in response to economic and social conditions. The small but significant number who risk it all to leave their supposed homeland is not proof of how bad their lives are. By any reasonable standard, West Bank Arabs have better living conditions than the majority of the Arab world and the world at large. Rather, this is proof that even after years of indoctrination with a made-up history of specifically "Palestinian" culture and yearning, many just don't feel any emotional ties with the land.

It also shows that if Arab countries would stop their discriminatory policies against Palestinian Arabs - the only group of Arabs that cannot become naturalized citizens in Arab countries - that a flood of Palestinian Arabs would happily trade their mythical dreams of "Palestine" for the opportunity to resettle and start their lives anew among their own people.

As a result, tragic stories like this one tend to be minimized and ignored by Palestinian Arab leaders themselves. If the world sees how much Palestinian Arabs want to leave their beloved homeland, it will start to question why a state will solve anything.

The question might also arise of why no "diaspora" Palestinian Arabs are risking their lives to move to Palestine.