This edition of Counter Terrorism Today centered around the refugee crisis in Europe. Mr. Dan Diker interviewed Dr. Liav Orgad, Assistant Professor of Government at the IDC and author of The Cultural Defense of Nations: A Liberal Theory of Majority Rights; Mr. Navonel Voni Glick, Chief Operating Officer at IsraAID, Israel and an expert in disaster relief and humanitarian issues; and Dr.Gil-Ad Ariely, Former Deputy Commander in the IDF and Professor and Chief Knowledge Officer at the ICT.
To start the discussion, Dr. Orgad put the current crisis in the context of globalization, emphasizing the much larger exchanges of people across the world, of which the refugees from the Middle East are only a small part. He stated how dramatic changes in both the amount and geographic patterns have created both opportunities and challenges. In this context, Dr. Orgad described challenges of identity- not only for the people coming from Middle Eastern countries, but also for Europeans, who are now feeling a stronger need to define themselves. He cited the phenomena of European countries attempting to put up legal defenses of their identities, and debating the meanings of their national identities.
Dr. Ariely then discussed border security, citing Israel’s experiences to emphasize how European countries now need a similar level of adaptation. In response to Mr. Diker’s question about European border policies facing criticisms of ineffectiveness, Dr. Ariely stated that one of the main problems was the inconsistency of approaches across different European countries and the desire of some to maintain free movement. Dr. Ariely noted the participation of Europeans in the attacks in Paris and Belgium as an example of an adverse effect of cross-country movement.
Mr. Glick then addressed the humanitarian aspect of the crisis, describing how refugee status, which is intended to be temporary, often becomes permanent. In this context, he emphasized the effects on children, giving the example of a young refugee boy in Lesbos (Greece) who when asked to draw a picture, showed his family being killed by ISIS and the Syrian regime. He stated how this boy, and children like him, will not be prepared, if taken in by European countries, for the conditions in refugee camps, or for schooling and integration later on. In response to a claim by Mr. Diker about how European countries have been shouldering much of the burden, Mr. Glick countered by citing the refugees taken in by surrounding countries, including Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon (the country with the highest number of refugees per capita in the world). He also described how, unlike other places in the world, people in these countries who were forced to flee their homes were sometimes upper middle class and highly educated, and have been even more unprepared to face their current situations and prospects for the future.
Dr. Orgad then highlighted the lack of preparedness from a legal standpoint, particularly regarding the distribution and responsibility of hosting refugees, and pointed out that the current situation Europe is facing is arbitrary in this regard. On the topic of majority rights brought up by Dr. Orgad, Mr. Diker asked Dr. Ariely about the difference between perception and reality with regards to security threats. Dr. Ariely emphasized that European states need to recognize the possible threats within, not only across, their borders, particularly from isolated communities that have more difficulty integrating. He described the need to find a balance between assimilating immigrants while allowing them to maintain their identities, and linked this with security issues, as extremist ideologies can become more appealing when this balance is unsuccessful. Dr. Orgad underscored this point by referring to a study which showed third generation Pakistani immigrants in Europe were less integrated than previous generations, in contrast with a general expectation that eventually immigrants will fully integrate. Mr. Glick then cited his own work in providing orientations for refugees in new countries, and argued that no countries really know how to assist refugees in this regard.
After Dr. Ariely again highlighted the challenges posed with the inconsistent approaches taken by different European countries and growing distrust in Europe itself, Mr. Diker shifted the conversation towards prescriptive approaches. Dr. Orgad underlined his earlier point about the lack of legal procedures to address the crisis and the absence of a unified integration policy. On Israel’s role in assisting, Mr. Glick argued that crisis can also be seen as an opportunity to promote growth for citizens of any country. Citing Israel’s technological advances as an example of positives to emerge from adversity, he emphasized that Israel has can bring its experience of adapting to different challenges to other countries. Dr. Orgad countered that Israel actually needs an immigration policy itself before exporting knowledge to Europe, citing the UN in saying that, out of OECD countries, Israel respects the rights of refugees the least. He suggested that Israel needs a policy that is both more selective but also provides more support to those who enter. Dr. Ariely described different domains in which Israel could share its experiences and solutions with European countries, including integration policies, information technology, ethical dilemmas, and regional knowledge management.
Mr. Diker summarized the conversation by emphasizing the importance of asking the right questions to find solutions, and thanked the guests.