Category Archives: News

Asylum Seekers Facing Deportation from Israel


There are around 38,000 asylum seekers in Israel, mainly from Sudan and Eritrea. Over the past month, their situation has become increasingly tenuous due to new legislation and changes in governmental policy.

Though the Holot detention facility reserved for asylum seekers is now closing, their situation has worsened in new ways.

The government is now advancing plans—announced on January 3rd—to deport thousands of Eritrean and Sudanese nationals who have not yet succeeded in applying for asylum status or who have applied but were rejected.

For those who have applied, most of the applications have never been reviewed, and only a handful have received answers. Thousands of asylum seekers have been prevented from filing applications. Once they receive a deportation order, they have between 30 and 60 days to leave the country or else face indefinite imprisonment. Sadly, asylum seekers who are deported could end up returning to the same dangers from which they ran, or worse.

To learn more about the situation:

Jewish Canadians urge Israel to back off plan to deport African refugeesThe Toronto Star

This CBC radio show features Professor Galia Sabar, Chair of African Studies at Tel Aviv University, and board member of our partner organization Hotline for Refugees and Migrants.

• A letter from Jewish Clergy against the deportations

Israeli teachers to education minister: ‘Stop deportation of asylum seekers’

Doctors, pilots and Holocaust survivors oppose plan to deport African migrants

• A podcast about Eritrean hostages and the journalist who tries to help them. From This American Life: This Call May Be Recorded… To Save Your Life

Former diplomats join outcry against deportation of African migrants

• This report, “Better a Prison in Israel Than Dying on the Way,” was compiled from testimonies of refugees who were “voluntarily” deported to Rwanda and Uganda.

• NIFC’s partner Hotline for Refugees and Migrants issued a point-by-point response to a message from the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.

NIF’s Global Response to the Refugee Crisis

Since 2007, the NIF family of affiliates has assisted human rights organizations working with asylum seekers, including Hotline for Refugees and Migrant, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, ASSAF (Aid Organization for Refugees), Worker’s Hotline, and the African Refugee Development Center.

As the situation has deteriorated in recent weeks, branches of NIF in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia have mobilized:

Emergency Funds: $15,000 in emergency grants has already been allocated to organizations that are assisting thousands of refugees in their asylum application process or in appealing the decision to deport or jail them; running public opposition campaigns; doing advocacy and legal work.

Community Action: NIFC and NIF branches have joined the global Jewish community to express opposition to the practice of deporting asylum seekers into situations that place their lives at risk. We have signed a series of open letters asking Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reverse the plan.

Supporting Israelis: Core NIF grantees—and others supported by Shatil—are mobilizing Israelis to speak out against the deportations.

Legal Action: Legal options are being pursued. The Hotline is now seeking an injunction to prevent deportation of refugees who have attempted to apply for asylum status.

Spotlight: New Israel Fund of Canada

Refugee rights are important to the Canadian Jewish community. In recent years, synagogues and Jewish groups have mobilized to sponsor Syrian and other refugees from war-torn countries.

That is why NIFC has funded Shatil, NIF’s own organizing arm on the ground in Israel, to provide training and services to organizations that work with and on behalf of asylum seekers. This capacity-building

NIFC’s project supports the work of five of Israel’s leading refugee rights organizations: the Hotline for Migrants and Refugees, the Association for Civil Rights in IsraelElifelet – Citizens for Refugee Children, ASSAF – Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel, and the African Refugee Development Center (ARDC). 

Future funding by NIFC will support Shatil’s work to coordinate among these organizations in a rapidly-changing situation.

Current Funding Needs

With the impending closure of the Holot facility, NIF branches worldwide are currently seeking funds to provide additional funding of $50,000 to support emergency needs.

These funds will be used to support the public advocacy campaign and other activities in the field, to fight the deportations and to provide vital assistance to the asylum seekers whose lives are in jeopardy.

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Our Top 10 Accomplishments in 2017

Introducing Ben Murane, Executive Director

I am honoured to be the new Executive Director of the New Israel Fund of Canada.

NIFC has an exciting history of creating positive change in Israel and here in Canada. After just one month on the job, I am inspired by the Israelis we’ve supported for over 30 years, and by the impact they’ve had on Israeli society. Continue reading

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Shared Society: 2017 Success Story

Palestinian Landowners Are Allowed to Access Their Land

Palestinians who have land in the West Bank do not have free access to their land, are harassed by settlers, and have their produce stolen or destroyed. And the army does too little too late to protect them. Continue reading

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Social Justice: 2017 Success Story

Basic Human Dignity Is Upheld for Asylum Seekers in Holot

Prisons and detention centres in Israel are severely overcrowded, robbing people of basic human dignity. In the Holot Detention Centre in the Negev, which houses some 3,300 African asylum seekers, there is serious overcrowding, and a ban on bringing personal belonging into the centre. Continue reading

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Women’s Rights: 2017 Success Story

Groundbreaking Court Ruling Advances Women’s Rights

The Israeli Declaration of Independence assures equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants, irrespective of religion, race, or gender. And yet, women in Israel are still treated as second-class citizens, facing discriminatory practices and laws that limit their power and voice. Continue reading

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Human & Civil Rights: 2017 Success Story

High Court Rules that Human Rights Ad Is Not Controversial

Over the past year, democracy in Israel has received a number of blows. Anti-democratic legislation is pushing for discriminatory policies against non-Jewish citizens of Israel and minorities, and proposes diminishing the power of the courts. Continue reading

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Exciting Changes at the New Israel Fund of Canada

Fifteen years ago, I first heard about the New Israel Fund of Canada. I was immediately drawn to its commitment to bettering Israeli society, and I’ve been a supporter and a volunteer ever since.

I’ve been inspired as NIFC has grown in Canada. Every year, we’ve raised more and more funds for social change in Israel, expanded our staff, and broken barriers on important issues. And we have reached so many passionate supporters of Israel. Continue reading

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Missed the Symposium? Watch the Highlights Now!

Last month, our annual Shira Herzog Symposium brought together three prominent progressive voices to talk to NIFC supporters about what leadership looks like in Israel today, and how your support makes all the difference. You can now relive the highlights of the Symposium, or see them for the first time, here.

Mutasim Ali, the first African refugee granted status in Israel, a survivor of the genocide in Darfur, and an activist for refugees, inspired us with his story and his vision for more just treatment of African refugees in Israel.

Columnist Peter Beinart and novelist Ayelet Waldman (recently the editor, with her husband, Michael Chabon, of Kingdom of Olives and Ash) had a lively conversation about what it means to be a progressive Jew in the diaspora, and how much our support means to activists in Israel.

To see these and other clips from the symposium, click here.

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High Court Reverses Ban on Human Rights Ad

After a legal battle, Israel’s High Court of Justice ordered Israeli TV stations to air an ad about human rights. The ad was produced by NIFC’s partner, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), ahead of International Human Rights Day in December. Continue reading

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Rosh Hashanah Attack on Christian Monastery Will Not Go Unanswered

On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, Jewish extremists vandalized a church in the Beit Jamal Monastery near Beit Shemesh. The perpetrators broke a statue of the Virgin Mary and smashed stained-glass windows. This was the third time in the past five years that the monastery was targeted in apparent hate crimes. Continue reading

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