Globe and Mail | 26Jan2007 | Associated Press

Thousands of Israelis seeking asylum in Canada

JERUSALEM — Thousands of Israelis, some citing fear of Palestinian terror attacks, others saying they are in danger of spousal abuse, have requested asylum in Canada and hundreds have so far been granted refugee status there, Israel's two mass-circulation dailies reported Friday.

Citing data received by the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Yediot Ahronot said that since the year 2000, at least 3,000 Israelis had filed asylum applications. Maariv also gave the figure of 3,000 and said that upward of 500 applications had been approved.

Yediot quoted Israeli ambassador to Canada Alan Baker as delivering a message to Canadian officials telling them they were being duped by spurious applications from Israelis.

“They are harming Israel's image and representing it as a country whose citizens are persecuted,” the letter was quoted as saying.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev confirmed that numbers of Israelis had sought asylum in Canada and “we have taken the matter up with the Canadians.” He did not elaborate.

The Canadian embassy in Tel Aviv said it did not have the data, and referred inquiries to the government in Ottawa.

[W.Z. It is the height of irony that, on the same day, the G&M first reports that Bernie Farber of the CJC wants to deport Ukrainians, and then that Israelis -- complicit in the humiliation, torture and murder of Palestinians -- are seeking refugee status in Canada. One wonders how many of these asylum seekers served with the Israeli Defence Forces guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the West Bank, Gaza or Lebanon.]