One migrant was asked why he doesn’t want to stay in Hungary. He replied: “[Hungary is] not giving us like in Germany… a house, money…”
“It’s not 150,000 migrants coming that some want to divide according to quotas, it’s not 500,000, a figure that I heard in Brussels, it’s millions, then tens of millions, because the supply of immigrants is endless.” — Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary.
Only 20 of the 12,000 people who crossed the border during the weekend of September 5-6 applied for asylum in Austria. The rest have already moved on to the more generous Germany.
As a group of ultra-Orthodox rabbis approaches the Israeli-Jordanian border, the knotted tassels of their Jewish prayer shawls are discreetly disappeared inside their trousers, out of sight. Jalabiyas, loose robes traditionally worn by Arabs, are swiftly whipped out of a bag and pulled over the shirt and trousers. Palestinian keffiyehs follow, carefully draped around the shoulders like a cape.
Suddenly, the rabbis no longer appear to be Jews, but rather Arab farmers. Guarded by Jordanian police, they are escorted through passport control toward an armed convoy of four-by-four jeeps with reflective windows. Within minutes, the disguised rabbis drive away, vanishing into a cloud of dust.
Far from prying eyes, at the Israeli-Jordanian border, this unusual kind of religious hocus-pocus has been taking place for the past 12 months. But the Jews would say it is the opposite of hocus-pocus—to them, it’s observing biblical laws to the letter. Enabled by agreements between private Israeli and Jordanian businesses, and sanctioned by the religious rabbinate, going to the Hashemite Kingdom enables deeply religious Jews to observe shmita—the year when farming land in Israel must not be cultivated by Jews— without losing a year of profit.
According to the Torah, every seventh year, the agricultural lands in Israel have to lie fallow. The latest shmita year began in September 2014 and ended this week. So, over the past 12 months, rabbis and kashrut supervisors have been traveling to Jordan on a weekly basis—to cultivate crops, and keep the profits coming, all while ensuring that religious laws are obeyed.