"Bringing Up a Slander on the Land"

Published: July 24th 2010
in News » Local

Inna Tsinman

According to a study conducted last year by Inna Tsinman, a resident of Thornhill Woods, Israelis asking for political asylum in Canada asylum vilify Israel. The study was in partial fulfillment of the requirements for her degree from York University, and it opens a window on the phenomenon of Israel “refugees.”


Tsinman is entering her third year of law school at Osgoode Hall, after having received a Masters’ degree from Ryerson University and a BA from York in political science. She told Shalom Life that she finds the issue of immigration interesting because she herself is an immigrant. When she was five she came to Israel from Russia with her parents, and when she was 15 they moved again, this time to Canada, “for economic reasons.” She has focused on the immigration of Israelis to Canada because of its implications for Israel’s image in Canada and the world at large.


“Emigration from Israel to Canada is basically a political issue. People who cannot use regular channels to immigrate look for other ways of obtaining the status of permanent resident and applying for political asylum seems to them to be the right thing to do. The problem is that when they fill out application forms they vilify Israel to convince the Canadian authorities that their lives are in danger and that they are therefore in need of Canadian patronage,” she says.


According to the study, between 2003 and 2007, there was a modest increase in the number of applications for refugee status from Israel, compared with 1995-2002, and the yearly average was 469 such requests. That was apparently because of the increased emigration to Canada of Jews of Russian extraction following the Al-Aqsa intifada (which began in the fall of 2000) and the second Lebanon war (during the summer of 2006). Some of the emigrants reached Canada without documents and afterwards asked to be accepted as refugees.


Deliberations regarding applications for refugee status are classified and names are not publicized. However, appeals to the Federal Court and the decision of the Immigration and Refugee Board regarding rejected requests make it possible to study the situation, its implications and the motivation of the people involved. Between 2003 and 2007, 41 appeals were lodged with the Federal Court, 24 of them by Jews of Russian extraction (one family lodged two appeals), six by Israeli Arabs, four by non-Jews, two by Palestinians, one by an Ethiopian and one by a Romanian.


The appeals lodged by the Russian Jews were based on claims of religious persecution and the refusal to serve in the Israeli army because of the “war crimes” they claimed it committed against the Palestinians in the territories, including “killing Palestinians” and “destroying houses.” A Christian Israeli of Russian extraction claimed that he had been persecuted by religious Jews because of his relations with a Jewish woman. His house, he claimed, was broken into and Stars of David were painted on the walls. He also claimed that the Israeli police had done nothing to protect him and for that reason he was asking Canada for asylum. A Christian woman claimed that she had been attacked by ultra-Orthodox Jews on her way to church.


Related articles: (immigration, israelis, russians)
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