Jeff’s Ride for Human Rights

Haim Watzman

When I met Jeff Heller during my first week at Duke University in 1974, I had little idea of who I was, where I was going, or even what I wanted to major in. Jeff had it all planned out—he was on his way to law school. But it was clear from the start that he wasn’t like the other pre-law and pre-med students, most of whom were interested mostly in the large incomes those professions promised to provide.

Jeff was a man of principle and remained one through three years at Duke and another three years at Chicago Law School. Yes, he followed the usual post-law school path by getting a job at a high-powered law firm, but it was clear to me that he wouldn’t last long in that environment. He soon left to start up his own practice.

“Practice” would perhaps be an exaggeration, because he spent most of his time and efforts for the next three decades working for a pittance, or just as often nothing at all, defending refugees who fled persecution and death. These people arrived in the United States and then found themselves in jail, threatened with deportation, facing an Immigration Service that refused to listen, refused to believe their stories, and refused to provide them with fundamental due process.

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Finance Minister to Expel Workers, Escape in Flying Saucer

Finance Minister Roni Bar-On is preparing a plan to rid Israel of all illegal immigrants within five years, Ha’aretz reports. The story did not state that Bar-On will then escape Israel in a flying saucer piloted by three-eyed green men, but it could have. Bar-On has about as much chance of ending illegal economic immigration to Israel as he does of the flying-saucer get-away.

As the excellent Hebrew blog Laissez Passer, devoted to immigration and refugee issues, notes today, 8.5% of the Israeli workforce now consists either of labor immigrants and Palestinians from the occupied territories. With drastic efforts, the government may reduce that number temporarily, and then it will bounce back.

Economic immigration is the other side of globalization. We can produce clothes more cheaply some place and ship it here. We cannot, however, ship our backyards to China to be gardened

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The Land of Asylum

This idea that Israel should offer asylum to non-Jewish refugees – how new is that? Some crazy concept thought up by secular Tel Aviv liberals with no concern for Israel’s Jewish character?

Actually, no. Just a bit older than that.

After my post a few days ago on the need for a new policy on African refugees reaching Israel, I got an email from my son, who’s now studying at Ma’aleh Gilboa, the yeshiva of the Religious Kibbutz Movement. He sent me a text from Sefer Hahinukh, an anonymous 13th century religious text

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