Retired Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan Rabbi Yaakov Ariel told Arutz Sheva that the Supreme Court-approved plan for transferring illegal infiltrators to a third country willing to accept them is "moral and worthy of implementation".
"There is a verse in the Torah: 'You shall not extradite a slave to his master', and although the verse has a different meaning in halakhic context, the idea is that whoever escapes a cruel master and comes to you to be saved should not be turned over to that master. If we translate this to our situation, a refugee who is indeed in danger and comes here should be helped and saved and we mustn't return him to his country of origin, but we are not obligated to keep him here.
"We are a Jewish state with limited living space, the large areas we had in Sinai and other places are no longer in our hands and we need to absorb many more Jews. This is where we live and therefore we cannot absorb endangered refugees as Israeli citizens, but can help save them and arrange for them to go somewhere else.."
And it is even more obvious, says Rabbi Ariel, that migrant workers should not be left in Israel: "Anyone who infiltrated into the country because he's looking for work can be helped; he shouldn't be expelled immediately but we must help him leave. We don't need him and we can't leave him here, and therefore we must find a dignified and humane way to get him out and what's being done today is fitting."
"The [authorities] will give each $3,500, a huge sum on which he can live for more than a year in the region he came from. We respectfully tell him 'get thee out willingly' but if he doesn't want to, there's no choice but to force him out in a humane way, not in shackles but with incentives."
Rabbi Ariel attacks opponents of the government plan: "All those who speak out against it - why don't they go live in South Tel Aviv. Only those who live in South Tel Aviv have the right to speak. All those 'moral and righteous' people, including kibbutzim who say they are willing to hide infiltrators from government officials - let them absorb them instead. You want to help them? Take them yourselves, let each kibbutz take in a hundred infiltrators, let's see you do it, don't hide them, take them in openly and give them work.
"Why do you impose the burden on South Tel Aviv? It's inconceivable that only South Tel Aviv should suffer while the whole country utters moral platitudes."
He said the comparison to Holocaust refugees was baseless: "The British ship Struma, which arrived here, was turned back by the British, and sunk in the sea. The Patria refugee ship, which had Holocaust survivors who arrived here, was exploded and some drowned in the sea. The British expelled every Jewish refugee who arrived here.
"Enlightened and neutral Switzerland did not allow the Jews to enter," says Rabbi Ariel, "Did England absorb Jews, did America absorb Jews? Then, Jews were fleeing the Holocaust. And today we say to those who run away - come to us and we will help you, so what is the connection with Holocaust refugees who were not helped?
"We as Jews go beyond the letter of the law, so anyone fleeing danger may come here; we'll help him go somewhere else. If he can't go somewhere else then he'll stay here for a while until he finds another place."