(full article here)
This family has been holed up in a United Church (of course) in Toronto for the past year, claiming refugee status from… Israel. Why? As non-Jews, they believe they were “singled out, insulted or assaulted” (that’s quite a range) for not being Jewish despite a Jewish surname.
It’s tough to believe. Assaulted? There are many non-Jews in Israel – including many Russians with a Jewish background – and while it may not be the same experience as that of a Jewish oleh, and perhaps there is discrimination and even insults, these are not exactly grounds for a refugee claim.
According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, refugees are folks “whose removal from Canada would subject them to a danger of torture, a risk to their life or a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.”
In any event, the father was only in Israel for 15 years – he left Russia in 1992, presumably because he thought Israel would be a better place to live. I assume there was some Jewish family background, thus the name and the right to pack up and go live in Israel in the first place.
They’ve been here in Canada since 2007, and the father is now on a hunger strike for the privilege of remaining here, though Canada Border Services has given them until Wednesday to report for deportation.
Apparently, “refugee claim” abuse has become increasingly common in Canada, so much so that in 2010, they passed a law creating a list of Designated Countries of Origin, stating which countries are and are not considered to have “solid democratic and human rights.”
Israel is a NO on the list (as are all its neighbours), meaning it’s “generally considered safe.” Interestingly, Russia is a YES… meaning the family would have been better off, refugee-wise, fleeing here from Russia, instead of stopping off in Israel along the way.
They sure do look unhappy in the picture accompanying all the news articles… but it’s hard to believe that Israel is the cause. To me, they just look ticked off that they’ve finally been caught at their silly little running-away-to-freedom game.