Please, Someone Remind the Jewish People Living in Israel What Happens When You Dehumanize Other Human Beings

The slowing of the world economy has many world leaders getting nervous and beginning to stigmatize migrants, refugees, and immigrants–illegal and otherwise. Leaders in Israel are taking the cake, though.

The Israeli government has begun deporting thousands of illegal immigrants from African nations such as Eritrea, Sudan, and South Sudan. Government records indicate that more than 59, 000 African immigrants have entered Israel in the past few years; more than 2,000 new migrants have been reported over the previous month.

African immigrants are coming to Israel for the same reasons immigrants have been leaving their homelands throughout human history: poverty in their native country, fleeing war zones, and a general desire to have a chance at a better life elsewhere.

By repatriating the migrants who enter their country illegally the Israeli government is only doing what all nations are entitled to do: protecting their borders and deciding who will be allowed to enter the country. But it’s what Israeli officials are saying about the migrants that is raising more than a few eyebrows. “We are sending the infiltrators, migrants, back to their homes like all countries in the West, in Europe, in the USA act when dealing with migrants,” Interior Minister Eli Yishai said on Tuesday.

Infiltrators? Huh, what? Calling the African migrants ‘infiltrators’ makes is sound as if the migrants are spies or saboteurs that have been sent to cause the downfall of the Israeli state; in other words, it is a word that intentionally and maliciously demonizes the migrants. And some would say the Jews should know better.

As the descendants of a people who have fled persecution at the hands of various other ethnic groups for centuries, shouldn’t the Jewish leaders be a bit more sympathetic to the suffering of migrants? Shouldn’t calling illegal immigrants names like ‘infiltrator’ be verboten?