Daily Israel Report

Canada Rejects Israel Arab Pilot's Refugee Bid

Arab pilot who was rejected by IAF asked for refugee status in Canada but was turned down.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 12/26/2011, 4:07 PM

A Canadian court has turned down a motion by an Israeli-Arab pilot who asked for refugee status in Canada because he was turned down by the Israel Air Force.

Reported by Shalom Toronto, the story began at the turn of the millennium. An Arab citizen of Israel – identified only as Salim -- applied to the Israeli Air Force and asked to serve as a pilot, but the IAF rejected him. He believes this was because of the fact that he is an Arab.

He then turned to a flight academy in Jordan and began studying avionics with cadets from other Arab countries. A year later, he received his commercial pilot's license.

"Salim first attempted to fly with Israeli airlines, but received no reply from these companies," writes Shalom Toronto. "He then attempted Arab airlines, but was rejected because he was an Israeli citizen. Afterwards, he began to explore the idea of pilot work in Western countries." He wound up getting a pilot's license in Montreal – and then filed a request for refugee status in Canada in 2007.

"His request was based on two arguments. The first was a sense of being "persecuted" by the Mossad intelligence services. The second was the fear for his safety due to his ethnicity as an Israeli Arab and as such a threat to Israeli security. His argument was based on the systematic discrimination of Arabs in the Jewish state, with a lack of general equality for Arabs, including discrimination in housing and other aspects of Israeli culture."

His brother, he claimed, was interrogated by Israeli Shin Bet officials regarding Salim's role as a pilot in Canada. Salim expressed concern that Israel may hunt him down as a threat to national security (!).

Canadian immigration officials told the court that "a lack of evidence" existed regarding any threat to Salim's life and his being perceived as a threat to Israeli national security. The court further noted that despite his claims, the fundamental rights to education, self expression, and movement were kept by Israel, which as a democratic state respects the rights of its citizens. As such, immigration authorities deemed his case not one of political persecution.

The judge also determined that Salim never applied for permanent residency and instead is using Israel's alleged discriminatory policies as basis for filing for refugee status.