Infiltration Into The Country, Infiltration Into The Mind? Framing Of Asylum Seekers In Israel and Its Consequences For Attitudes Towards Them

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 9:30 AM
Room: 313+314
Distributed Paper
Oshrat HOCHMAN , Social and community studies, Ruppin Academic Centre, Emek Hefer, Israel
In January 2012, the Israeli parliament passed an amendment to the infiltration prevention law, originally passed in the 1950s as part of Israel's defense policy against security threats. The new amendment expanded the infiltration prevention law to treat any person who did not enter the country through border terminals as an 'infiltrator' entering Israel illegally. The context for the amended law was the large incoming flow of asylum seekers entering Israel between 2006 and 2012; the new law provided the Israeli state with legal means to systematically deprive them of their basic rights for asylum. While the official 'infiltrator' terminology is relatively new, the term 'Infiltrators' has been used by policy makers to describe asylum seekers already before 2008. Thus, the association of African asylum seekers with national threats is, by now, embedded in the Israeli public discourse. This study investigates whether framing asylum seekers as infiltrators motioned not only exclusionary policy measures, but also public support of such measures.

This study is the first to investigate the consequences of Israel's policy towards asylum seekers. Specifically, the study asks whether framing asylum seekers in Israel as posing demographic and security threats encouraged the formation of negative public attitudes towards them, and public willingness to support policies implying a withdrawal from liberal values like individual freedoms, and human rights. The study also asks whether such a withdrawal is more characteristic of specific groups within the Israeli Jewish population which are typically presenting more negative attitudes towards foreigners, or if it represents a more general tendency among the Jewish majority in Israel.