The Knesset’s Research and Information Center was established with the purpose of supplying professional, reliable and objective data and research material on a range of subjects, so that it would be available to all members of Knesset. Studies produced by the RIC serve as a leading source of information not only for lawmakers but also for the general public, non-government organizations and leading media outlets. The RIC’s studies on the issue of infiltration to Israel have become a central and popular source of information.
Two of the studies produced by the RIC on the issue of illegal migration received especially prominent media exposure. One was a study into the rate of criminality among illegal migrants (published in October 2010) and another dealt with the relative size of the migrant population and the influx of migrants to Israel in comparison with European countries (published May 2012).
The study on illegal migrant criminality concluded that the rate of criminality was lower than the number of migrants in the country as a relative percentage of the general population. This study was published in several media outlets and NGOs assisting the migrants use its findings as ideological scaffolding to this very day. However, as we shall show, the study distorted data and obfuscated the facts in order to reshape them into the writer’s point of view and created a smokescreen that obscured the high level of migrant criminality in south Tel Aviv. The report can even be partially blamed for the long delay in enforcement authorities’ reaction to the situation in the neighbourhoods and the intolerable reality of which residents have become captive. Only after intense efforts, including demonstrations and protests and regretfully, some victims, was the presence of security personnel in the area increased and a reduction in the level of criminality finally achieved.
In response to the report by the Knesset’s Research and Information Center, written by Dr. Gilad Natan, the Israeli Immigration Policy Center wrote a counter-study proving that according to the data given by Israel Police to the Knesset, the level of criminality related to sexual offenses among illegal migrants was in fact 3.5 times higher than their size as a segment of the population. When it comes to the crime of murder, illegal migrants are nine times likelier than other members of the population to commit the crime. In addition, the IIPC report exposed severe methodological failures in Dr. Natan’s study. These failures join the principal methodological failure in the decision to compare the number of criminal files opened for members of the general public with the number of files opened for members of a population characterized by lack of enforcement and chronic underreporting of crimes.
Another study by the RIC that received generous media coverage compared the scope of illegal migration to Israel with illegal migration to European countries. This study relied on even shoddier methodological foundations than the report on criminality. According to the findings of the report, Israel was not a main destination country for the migrants, and their percentage as a demographic component of the population was low compared to European countries. This report was widely publicized by the media and NGOs made use of it in an attempt to downplay the scope of the phenomenon or the need to take measures. This created a significant delay in the state’s response. Astoundingly, these studies were translated into English for the OECD and presented as official data from the State of Israel.
In a counter-study published by the Israel Immigration Policy Center, we revealed that Israel has become the leading destination country in the Western world for illegal migration from Africa. Furthermore, at the height of illegal migration to Israel in the years 2010-2011, Israel needed to absorb a higher number of migrants than any other European country in absolute numbers. Apart from this, Israel was among the countries leading ahead of EU countries regarding the number of migrants who live there as compared to the size of the local population and the size of the land.
After we published the two studies in the Maariv newspaper a scandal broke out, since the researcher who penned them, Dr. Gilad Natan, had been since removed from his position. Despite his failures as a researcher, the Knesset spokesperson’s unit and the Knesset’s legal adviser said the reason Dr. Natan was removed from his position in the RIC was past political columns against the government he had written for the Ynet news website while holding a position at the Knesset.
After the attempt by the Knesset legal adviser to cover up the professional failures in the report and to claim that the reason the researcher was removed from his position was his political affiliated, we turned to the Knesset’s legal adviser with a demand that the RIC recognize the failures in the study and make them public. Regretfully, this request was never publicly responded to, but the RIC admitted that the failures existed, during proceedings of a lawsuit filed by Dr. Natan at the Labor Court.
Following the removal of Dr. Natan from his position, an attempt was made by radical agents to debunk the reliability of studies issued by the Israeli Immigration Policy Center and to make the issue political. Our study dealing with comparisons to European countries was given to an external advisor, Dr. Anabelle Lipsik-Friedlander, who received our critique points in full, and as a result the original report was taken off the internet. The saga surrounding the research reports exposed the tremendous gap regarding the issue of getting accurate and up to date information on the issue of migration to Israel in general and the issues of infiltration in particular. The supply of reliable, quality information to decision makers, the media and Israeli society in general are the top priorities of the Israeli Immigration Policy Center.
- Request by the Israeli Immigration Policy Center to remove the skewed studies from the Knesset website, in the Jerusalem Post.
- An opinion piece by the IIPC in reaction to the criticism published in Maariv.