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Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel Academic Conference: Refugee Experiences in Israel and the US

American University East Campus
3501 Nebraska Ave
Washington, DC 20016
United States

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Israel was built as a state for immigrants: Jewish immigrants. In 1948, no one expected Israel to become a destination for non-Jewish refugees and asylum seekers. According to estimates, about 60,000 African refugees reached Israel between 2005 and 2015. Many of them settled in the poor neighborhoods of South Tel Aviv, where they found work in restaurants and other businesses. Their legal status is undefined, as Israel does not have asylum laws. As in most Western countries, in Israel this undocumented immigration evoked both gestures of welcome and expressions of resentment. A number of private organizations helped the new arrivals find places to live, learn the language, and get settled. Their support countered street protests and acts of violence against the refugees, who were often viewed in the context of fear of terrorists’ infiltration. The Netanyahu government reacted by building a fence along the southern wall of Israel and by taking measures to return some of the refugees to their countries of origin.

This panel discussion will focus on refugee experiences in Israel and the US, moderated by Alan Kraut of American University. Participants will include:

  • Mark Hetfield, President and CEO at HIAS
  • Julie Fisher, Consortium for Israel and the Asylum seekers, Jerusalem
  • Mutasim Ali, Former Sudanese Refugee in Israel and LLM Candidate at George Washington University
  • Donald Kerwin, Center for Migration Studies, New York
For a full conference schedule, click here.