Israel to harbor Trump’s rejected refugees

By Rachel Parkey & Emily Gams

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Trump’s recent immigration ban might send more refugees to Israel, making the country more favorable to the UN. Photo by Kathleeen Miller.

Doubts concerning its constitutionality aside, President Donald Trump’s executive order Friday, Jan. 27, certainly moves the goals he outlined during the campaign forward. It also conveniently coincided with Israel’s recent announcement that it will begin to take in Syrian refugees.

During the campaign, two areas Trump said he’d address were higher regulation of refugee immigration and renewed support for the United States’ traditional ally Israel. Many of the events of last week could, inadvertently, push along our new president’s goals for better or for worse.

Late last week, Israel made headlines when they announced that they would be admitting refugees from Syria. This decision is surprising on a number of fronts, as this will be the first time over the course of the five-year Syrian civil war that Israel will offer assistance in this way.

Over the past few years, Israel has contributed to humanitarian efforts by sending Israeli doctors and medical personnel to aid in treating over 2,600 casualties of the brutal civil war. Now, Israel will be admitting Syrian orphans with the possibility of them remaining indefinitely. The plan also provides opportunities for the orphans to enter the education system, and be placed in foster care or adopted. Israel is also considering provisions to allow immediate family members to join them.

But what has inspired them to add this new level of support for their traditional enemies as the conflict in Syria continues?

Well, perhaps they’re trying to get back on the U.N.’s good side. Back in December, the UN Security Council condemned Israel’s policy of building settlements on occupied Palestinian land. Since then, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made moves to re-evaluate Israel’s relationship with the intergovernmental organization. A lot of people, Trump included, were none too pleased with the vote, because generally the U.S. would veto such measures. In this case, the Obama administration chose to abstain from the vote.

The U.N., however, has always been an advocate for refugees, and many of the countries represented at the U.N. are dealing with their own migrant crises. So perhaps the U.N. will look more favorably upon the Middle Eastern nation as they continue to move forward with formal plans establishing their policy for Syrian refugees.

Conversely, on Jan. 27, Trump signed an executive order temporarily limiting admission of refugees to the United States, stirring up protests and outcry across the United States and among many of our international partners. On Saturday, Jan. 28, the U.N. issued a statement urging the president to continue the country’s long tradition of welcoming refugees and helping them begin new lives in the melting pot.

At first, it seems like Trump and Israel are on different sides of the refugee issue, but in fact these two events could work in tandem to achieve some of Trump’s campaign promises. By taking in refugees from a country that has been their traditional enemy, Israel could gain favor with the U.N., thus making it easier for Trump to deliver on his promise to aid Israel.

If the UN is feeling more friendly toward Israel, it may be less inclined to deliver condemnations like those delivered last December, and it may be easier for Trump to work around that condemnation as he aids Israel.

Simultaneously, Israel’s acceptance of refugees helps alleviate the migrant crisis, thus taking pressure off the United States and those countries in Europe who have had a constant flow of refugees and migrants over the past few years. A hundred orphans and their immediate families may not seem like much, but this may lead to more opportunities for refugees in Israel.

The timing of Israel announcing a new refugee program in the same week as Trump’s executive order is likely coincidental. To what extent their goals continue to be mutually beneficial remains to be seen.

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