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Is Israel supposed to absorb all African refugees?
Commentary: ...the idea that tiny Israel should be considered the solution for African poverty is absurd. There are currently approximately 70,000 illegal African immigrants in Israel, roughly one for every 100 Israelis—Jew and Arab alike. In such a small country, that’s a large burden for Israelis to carry. If Americans are upset about undocumented immigrants in this country, the uproar in Israel isn’t hard to understand. Moreover, unlike the bulk of illegal immigration into the United States, the Africans are not merely a function of an economic cycle in which Mexicans and other Central Americans cross the border to fill low-payingjobssuch as farm work. The Africans are refugees from war and famine in East African nations like Sudan and Eritrea, who not unnaturally see democratic and prosperous Israel as a haven from suffering that they cannot find anywhere else in the region. It’s also true that unlike the nations they pass through on their way to Israel, the Jewish state has treated newcomers with compassion.
Those who are quick to accuse Israel of racism should remember that it went to great trouble and expense to facilitate the mass immigration of tens of thousands of black Jews from Ethiopia in the past generation. Though the absorption of these immigrants has been a bumpy road for many, the nation took great pride in their coming and has done its often-inadequate best to care for them.
The Jewish tradition of caring for the homeless and the stranger has created a largedegreeof sympathy for the African migrants in Israel. But while it was possible for the country to take in the initial small numbers who found their way there, including those seeking political asylum, now that the rate is up to 1,000 new illegals a month, the situation has gotten out of hand. Israel simply hasn’t the ability to care for or employ that many people who have no ties to the place.
Moreover, no matter how immigrant-friendly Israel may be, any nation has the right and the duty to police its borders. As is the case with America’s southern border, there are no easy or simple solutions–people who want to come will find a way to get in. But no nation can be expected to just simply accept such a situation, especially when it brings with it a rise in crime and other social pathologies. Though nothing justifies some of the unfortunate statements made yesterday in Tel Aviv, Israel has a right to ask those who arrive without permission to leave and to ensure that those illegals who keep coming are kept out.
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Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg
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Doctor of Divinity Citation
Rabbi Jonathan Hillel Ginsburg
Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa
You have shared Jewish knowledge with world.
You have been a successful pulpit rabbi for twenty-eight years, building and growing congregations. You have also embarked on a remarkable career as an educator, as an adjunct faculty member at colleges in Minnesota, and as a pioneer in online Jewish learning, developing educational programs that include multiple websites and blogs, hundreds of videos posted, with millions of views, carrying the fruits of Jewish knowledge to all who seek it, while mentoring over 1000 converts. As a leader in the rabbinate, you have served on the National Rabbinic Cabinet of United Jewish Appeal, Chancellor’s Rabbinic Cabinet of The Jewish Theological Seminary, and State of Israel Bonds Rabbinic Cabinet Executive Committee, as well as on several committees of the Rabbinical Assembly. The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism acknowledged your work in adult Jewish education with a gold medal in 2009. You have chaired the Minnesota Rabbinic Association and Niles Township Clergy Association.
You are truly a teaching rabbi, making an enduring mark on the world by touching countless Jewish lives with wisdom that they will pass on to countless others.
Rabbi Jonathan Ginsburg, was senior rabbi of Ezra-Habonim, Niles Township Jewish Congregation in Skokie Illinois, and one of the world's foremost innovators of online Jewish experiences. A native of Chicago, Rabbi Ginsburg received his B.A. in religion from the University of Chicago where he was the valedictory orator and received his Masters and Rabbinic Ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary where he received the Krasne Award for outstanding student.
He was a National Merit scholar and 1974 National High School Debate Champion. Rabbi Ginsburg, before coming to Ezra-Habonim, the Niles Township Jewish Congregation, was the senior Rabbi at the Temple of Aaron, a 1400-family Conservative synagogue for 17 years, and adjunct faculty of St. Catherine College and Metropolitan University of Minnesota. Prior to that, he served as senior Rabbi at the Kane Street Synagogue in Brooklyn for 5 years. He served on the National Rabbinic Cabinet, United Jewish Appeal, as Associate Chair of the State of Israel Bonds Rabbinic Cabinet Executive Committee and on many Boards of Jewish Institutions. He has served as president of the Minnesota Rabbinical Association and recently the Niles Township Clergy Association, and on the Nominations and Professional Development Committee of the International Rabbinical Assembly