stands out amongst western countries in its hostility to refugees, to the
extent that they tricked a group of refugees into leaving for Rwanda and
Uganda, three of whom have been butchered by ISIS in Libya, is because they
threaten the ‘democratic Jewish state’.
|T. appearing in ISIS’ execution video (L), and photographed in Tel Aviv
(R) (photo courtesy of the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants)
that currently stands at 60,000 could grow to 600,000, and that threatens our
existence as a Jewish and democratic state,… and threatens the social fabric of society, our national security and
our national identity.’
20.5.12. ‘Israel PM: illegal African immigrants threaten identity of Jewish
state. Binyamin Netanyahu reignites row
over fate of thousands of African migrants in Israel’
example of how a ‘Jewish’ state cannot be a democratic state. It is a racist state though.
By Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam
April 22, 2015
separating it from the Sinai frontier, 60,000 African refugees fled civil wars,
famine and poverty to find a new life there. I wish I could say that Israel had
learned any lesson from the Jewish history of suffering and exile, and that it
treated these refugees with decency. But despite Bibi Netanyahu’s oft heard
claims about Israel being the apotheosis of Jewish values, he seems to have
learned none. His government has cast a cold, hard eye on the Africans from
Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and elsewhere.
them replete with beatings and firebombing of African stores. The government
built concentration camp-like facilities for them amidst the Negev moonscape.
Israel deported some of the refugees to Sudan, where they were promptly
arrested for traveling to Israel, a country to which travel is banned. The
government sought desperately to find another African country that would accept
them. It struck paydirt in the Rwandan dictator, Paul Kagame, the Butcher of
Congo. In return for military hardware, Rwanda agreed to accept deported
Africans. What happened to them after they left Israel and touched down in
Rwanda was no longer the “Jewish state’s” problem.
Israel then set about persuading the Africans to leave
Israel “voluntarily.” Given a choice between a desert detention facility with
no hope of a normal life in Israel and a new start elsewhere, a few agreed to
go. They were fed a $3,500 bribe and the false promise of work visas in Rwanda.
Interior Minister Gil Erdan added more lies in a report from last month about
his deportation plan:
Previous attempts at “voluntary departure” had come
under fire after many of those who left of their own accord faced life
threatening danger in their home country.
But this time is different, Erdan claims, saying that in
the first few months, Israel will follow the foreign nationals intake process
in the host countries to make sure they are properly treated.
blandishments, it wasn’t a smart choice.
ISIS in Libya released one of its terror-porno videos
picturing 23 Africans, described as “Ethiopian Christians,” beheaded on the
beach. The information was imprecise at best. At least three (and possibly
more) of the victims were identified by family in Israel as their relatives,
who’d been deported by Israel to Rwanda:
“I recognized my relative, T., from the photos published
by ISIS that appeared on Facebook before the video was released,” says Mesi
Fashiya, an Israeli-born Eritrean whose parents came to Israel in the ’70s. “I
thought it was him, but then ISIS announced that it was a group of Ethiopians,
so I began to look into it. The people at the Holot detention center also saw
the photos — they hoped it was only photos, and that they didn’t really kill
them. After they released the video there was no doubt…
her for a period of time, and the two became close. According to her, T.’s
mental state deteriorated after being sent to Holot, and despite her promises
to try and do everything to release him, he eventually decided to sign a voluntary
departure form and was deported to a third country — Rwanda or Uganda. T.’s
brother, who lives in Norway, told Fashiya that T. attempted to reach Europe.
He crossed Sudan and reached Libya, where he got on a boat to Europe that was
turned back. The last thing they heard was that he was in a Libyan prison.
them and then placing the heads on the bodies. It is terrible. It is difficult
to believe that these things happen, even to people you don’t know.
But when it
happens to someone you do know, a relative who was promised a better life when
he leaves, and this is what happens in the end
The surviving family told Haaretz that after landing in
Rwanda, that country immediately sent them packing:
According to Mesi, T. “went back to Uganda or Rwanda – I
think Rwanda – where they are not accepted. From there he went on to Sudan, and
from Sudan to Libya.” She said that he was not able to remain in Libya, and
tried to reach Europe by boat. “I understood that the boat was returned to
Libya,” she said, “where they were arrested. Rumors have it that the extreme
Islamic group snatched them from the jail itself.”
The rest is grisly history.
Today’s news is filled with the horrible story of the
capsized Libyan ship which carried as many as 900 poor souls to their death in
the Mediterranean as they tried vainly to reach Europe. But the infamy of the
story I tell tonight should not be subsumed by this greater toll in grief and
Israel violates international refugee laws with
impunity. It refuses to even consider most applications for refugee status and
approves almost none. That way it can falsely claim that none of those who came
there were legitimate refugees. It offers no rights or due process to those it detains.
It ships them back to the misery they left without caring what happens to them.
I tried to reach the Interior Ministry for comment on
this story, but it was closed for Israel Independence Day/Yom HaZikaron.
I spoke to Sharon Harel of the UN High Commission for
Refugees in Tel Aviv and she expressed the organization’s deep concern for the
treatment of asylum seekers in Israel. This included what provisions were made
for returning them to third countries. She said that agreements with such
countries (in this case Rwanda and Uganda–though the latter formally denies one
even exists) should be “transparent.” They should provide protection and
guarantee proper treatment of them once they arrive. If such agreements are
successful, then we should see communities of Eritreans, Sudanese and
Ethiopians deported from Israel, living in these countries. If we don’t, she
said, it would mean that whatever program is in place is not working.
In fact, the Israeli Hotline for Migrants has published a report on precisely this
subject. It finds that those deported to Rwanda and other countries are
pressured to leave. There is no provision for them to be accepted on a long-term
basis. In fact, just the opposite.
Thus far, the agreements, such as they are, are anything
but transparent. In fact, they’re so secret that Uganda has denied one even
exists. If the Haaretz report is correct, then Rwanda is merely serving as a
fig leaf for Israel. It isn’t receiving the deportees in any fair manner. It’s
merely serving as a way station for them to pass to yet a fourth or even fifth
country as they seek refuge.
Further, a new policy, even more draconian than the
current one, would allow Israel to deport Africans involuntarily. Those who
refused would be put in Saharonim Prison and treated close to criminals, yet
another grave violation of international law.
Now Israel knows that it has deported human beings who
were slaughtered like cattle. It cannot wash its hands of this tragedy. It is
an accomplice to murder.
If you’ve followed this blog for a number of years, you
may remember this post I wrote about the ill-fated journey of the S.S. St.
Louis with its cargo of Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis just before the
outbreak of World War II. The ship made its way to the New World seeking a safe
haven for its 800 souls. But it was turned away at Latin American ports, turned
away from the U.S. and ultimately turned away from Cuba. The St. Louis
eventually gave up and returned to Europe, where many of its passengers ended
up murdered in Nazi death camps.
This is now Israel’s legacy: it has done no less than
what FDR did to the St. Louis*. It has turned away the desperate fleeing mayhem
in their homelands and sent them back into the lion’s mouth. This is a betrayal
of Jewish tradition; a betrayal of Jewish values. A total schandeh.
see ISIS Executes Three Asylum Seekers Previously Deported by Israel +972 Magazine 21.4.15.