by Rav Yoel and Eliad Bin Nun
“Arei Miklat” (Cities of Refuge) in the Torah were designed to prevent feuds of “vendettas” – a chain of murderers and victims, as is customary in tribal and criminal organizations. Only a certified court will seal a murderer’s fate, whether was in error or willfully.
But there is also a commandment in the Torah to give refuge to a slave who is running away from his master. While ancient peoples had clear rules for the extradition of slaves who escaped – only the Torah prohibits extradition and requires giving refuge to a runaway slave, so he may sit “wherever he chooses within any of your cities, where it is good for him.” (Devarim 23:16-17). This is where the idea of “Cities of Refuge” for the infiltrators and work seekers came from.
In the previous generation they took this idea for granted: instead of detention and deportation, let’s think about a productive City of Refuge, where there will be special enterprises with three purposes: 1. To financially support asylum seekers at a good level, not on the margins of Israeli society. 2. Provide them with vocational training, with an emphasis on courses tailored to the needs of their home countries. 3. Prepare them for return to their homeland after the war.
Instead of an “open prison” we can create a City of Refuge, where job seekers stand in line to be accepted. The only stipulation will be a signed agreement to a program of voluntary return to their homeland after the war there, together with professional training that will enable the comprehensive development of their countries which are suffering from poverty and destructive wars.