Reader JDM has translated material from a Danish newspaper for Gates of Vienna. His comments are below, followed by the letter itself.
This was published as a Letter to the Editor yesterday (July 31st) in the Fyens Stiftstidende. Although a provincial newspaper, the island of Funen is home to the third largest city in Denmark and also, unfortunately, one of the worst ghettos (Vollsmose) outside of Copenhagen.
The link requires a subscription. I am grateful to the Snaphanen blog for the text.
Context: Like the US, Denmark also started an evacuation of Danes in Lebanon after everyone (especially Israel) decided to take the recent provocations of Hizb’allah seriously. Unlike the US, however, a national debate about these evacuees quickly became hot and heavy. The following letter examines some of the facts behind the debate.
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There were grounds for speculation when it was suddenly necessary to evacuate 2300 “Danes” from Lebanon. Do that many Danes really go on vacation in Lebanon? It was shortly revealed that these were actually Palestinians with Danish passports.
This caused a wave of understandable irritation among Danish citizens and taxpayers when it was no longer possible to hide the fact that the “Danes” who had to be evacuated had been given political asylum in Denmark but nonetheless lived in that land from which they originally fled in that their lives were in danger. While I write this (July 27), the news on TV is reporting that more than 5600 persons have been evacuated. The July 16 copy of Jyllands-Posten reported that the [Danish] Foreign Ministry calculated that there were at most 2300 Danes in Lebanon; because of this, I would estimate the evacuation to be a huge success seeing as how it has resulted in twice as many evacuees as expected — with more to go.
Some letters-to-the-editor have responded to this irritation by claiming that political refugees should obviously be able to go home and visit their families without being checked as whether they are defrauding the [Danish] system of social services. One letter in particular argued the position that the Danish state ought not verify the needs of these traumatized people and in so doing raised the question if the legal principle of being equal in the eyes of the law does not also include the traumatized?
Unfortunately, these viewpoints are not based on any of the realities of this case.
According a report from [Danish] Immigration Ministry (12/2002), the number of refugees and their descendants from Lebanon who are living in Denmark is 20,566. Far more than a fourth of this number has now been brought out of Lebanon. Danish-Palestinian organizations estimate the total number of Danes in Lebanon to around 10,000. Say what? Can more than a fourth and up to around a half of an entire group of people be on vacation at the very same time? It doesn’t seem possible. On the contrary, there seems to a situation in which a large group of people, who have political asylum in Denmark, actually live in their home country for much of the time. Many stay in Lebanon while they get social benefits and unemployment insurance — this is welfare cheating.
The report from the Ministry of Integration mentioned above also reveals how many of this group of people are employed: 30-some percent of the men and less than 20% of women. This would seem to document that there are more “Danish” Palestinians in Lebanon than are actually employed in Denmark.
And even if one imagines that all businesses in Denmark hold their vacation at the exact same time, the numbers above still clearly lead one to conclude widespread welfare cheating.
This cannot be a surprise to anyone. The latest report from Denmark’s Statistics shows that people from Lebanon have the highest rate of crime in Denmark. While between 2.2% and 2.3% of Norwegians and Swedes who live in Denmark have been punished for criminal activity, 9.7% of people from Lebanon have — and furthermore, their crimes occur more often and are more serious offenses. Surely it would be a good idea to investigate these evacuees’ situation more closely?
— Carsten Ringsmose