African Refugees Get No Reprieve from Israel’s Racist Rage

African Refugees Get No Reprieve from Israel’s Racist Rage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Post-Blog

Another brilliant article from the indefatigable Israeli-Canadian
campaigner, David Sheen whose videos on Youtube are brilliant. See
e.g.
 War on Africans 
Nothing better demonstrates the vicious racism of the Israeli state and
what Zionism has led to than its treatment of the African refugees from
Eritrea and Sudan.  Their crime is two fold – they are not Jewish and they are Black – an unforgivable combination.
They are called ‘infiltrators’ in a conscious echo of the term that was
used to describe Palestinian refugees trying to return to their lands after
1948.  Thousands were murdered in cold
blood as the Israeli Labour founders of Israel sought to ensure that Israel was
as Jewish as possible.
Challenging the racist Zionist description of Black African refugees
Why ‘infiltrators’?  Because they are non-Jews infiltrating a Jewish state and thereby making it less Jewish.
Today Africans fleeing from the vicious police state in Eritrea and the
genocide in Sudan are refused en masse the right to stay in Israel.  Like the Jews of Russia and Poland in the
last century they have  been subject to
vicious pogroms led by the Israeli government.
Those with illusions in the Israeli Labour Party should note that the
ILP has given full support to Netanyahu. 

The
fortunes of the African refugee community targeted by the Israeli government
for deportation have swung wildly in recent days

April 23,
2018 David Sheen The
Electronic Intifada

African asylum seekers protest against Israel’s deportation plan, South Tel Aviv, 25 February. , Oren Ziv ActiveStills
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu first announced a United
Nations-backed deal to resettle some of them in the West, but then quickly
retracted the plan after right-wing Israelis complained that the deal was too
generous to asylum seekers.“I listened closely to many comments about the
agreement. As a result, after reevaluating the advantages and disadvantages, I
decided to cancel the deal,”
Netanyahu
wrote
on his Facebook page.
“Despite the growing legal and international
limitations, we will continue to act with determination to exhaust all possibilities
at our disposal to remove the infiltrators,”
he added.

African refugees walk out of Holot

In November,
it was reported that the Netanyahu government secured agreements with unnamed
African nations for the latter to take in many of the approximately 40,000
refugees remaining in Israel, ostensibly in exchange for a fee of $5,000
per head
.
But
Netanyahu’s plans for expedited deportation were quashed after protests by
refugee rights activists in Israel and abroad shamed those countries, now known
to be Rwanda
and Uganda
, into disclaiming the scheme.
Unable to
deliver on his promise to quickly expel all the Africans, Netanyahu grudgingly agreed
to a plan
brokered by the UN refugee agency UNHCR which, if
carried out, would have seen thousands of the refugees resettled in Western
nations in the coming years.
Eritreans mourn the victim of lynch mob 
But Germany
and Italy, two of the countries cited by Netanyahu as committed to take in
asylum seekers from Israel, quickly
denied
having ever agreed to accept refugees under the
scheme.
Opposition to expulsion
Abandoned on
all sides within hours of announcing the agreement, Netanyahu walked back the
deal, first
in part
, then in whole, suspending
it
, and then canceling
it altogether
.
Although the
deal would have provided political cover for Netanyahu’s planned expulsion of
the refugees, his political camp vigorously opposed it because it also
committed Israel to allowing around 20,000 Africans – mainly women and children
– to remain in Israel for
another five years
and to help them move to parts of the country
other than South Tel Aviv, where most of the community is concentrated.
Although a January poll showed that
66 percent of Israeli Jews support Netanyahu’s efforts to expel the refugees to
Africa, a recent survey found that positions are reversed in those very areas
where residents were more likely to actually encounter any of them.
A March poll revealed
that in the greater Tel Aviv area, opposition to the expulsion reached 68
percent, and in the long-neglected neighborhoods of South Tel Aviv with the
largest African populations, it hit 71 percent.
refugees at detention centre Holot
On 24
February
and again on 24
March
, some 20,000 people gathered in Tel Aviv to
demonstrate in solidarity with the refugee community and demand that the
Israeli government cancel plans to deport them, and instead work to improve the
lives of all residents of the city’s delapidated southern district.
Protesters
have criticized the Israeli government for having one of the lowest refugee
acceptance rates in the world – less
than 0.5 percent
.
But
Netanyahu has claimed that the non-Jewish refugees – about half Christian and
half Muslim – pose a threat to Israel’s “national
identity
.”
In that
sense Israel regards them similarly to how it has viewed indigenous
Palestinians since its founding, when it expelled 750,000 Palestinians from
their homes and barred them from returning because they are not Jews.
And local
racists have long labored to shore up support for Netanyahu’s anti-African
policies, and to demand that even crueler measures be taken against them.
“Mortal threat”
Shlomo
Maslawi, representing Netanyahu’s ruling Likud Party on the Tel Aviv city
council, told
Israeli TV
that he would oppose Netanyahu’s now retracted
plan, even though it included promises to invest in the overburdened
neighborhoods of South Tel Aviv, until “the Eritreans are gone, down to the
last Eritrean – only then will there be rehabilitation.”
In recent
weeks, as refugee rights advocates across the country and around the world
stepped up their protests, forcing the African governments conspiring with
Israel to deny their involvement, Netanyahu lashed out at the refugees,
smearing them as a mortal threat.
If he had
not built a high-tech fence on Israel’s southern border five years ago,
Netanyahu told
an audience
in March, the number of Africans in the country
would be significantly higher, a condition he deemed “much worse” than “severe
attacks by Sinai terrorists
.”
Coming under
rare
criticism
from some of Israel’s staunchest American
defenders, other government officials also doubled down to defend the mass
deportations to African states.
Interior
minister Aryeh
Deri
told
Israeli army radio
that to take these asylum seekers, mainly from
Eritrea and Sudan, and expel them to Rwanda and Uganda, would merely mean
returning them “to their natural place.”
Avraham
Neguise, currently Israel’s only Black legislator, a Jew of Ethiopian origin,
also spoke out in support of the deportation to Rwanda and Uganda, telling Israel’s i24 TV, “Well, they came from Africa, and they’re
going back to Africa.”
Yitzhak
Yosef, one of Israel’s two national chief rabbis, also heaped scorn on the
Africans in a sermon last month, in which he called Black
people “monkeys” and the Hebrew
equivalent of the N-word.
His fellow
chief rabbi, Yisrael
Lau
, had already used that Hebrew version of the N-world to describe Black
people, on his very first day in office.
Vigilante violence
These and
many other incidents of anti-African incitement have ramped up racism against
the refugees. The rage against asylum seekers has grown into a political force
capable even of pressuring Netanyahu to cancel Israel’s international
agreements.
But the most
frightening effects of increased anti-Black sentiment are reserved for the refugees
themselves.
Vigilante
violence against African refugees has become increasingly common in recent
years.
In 2012, an
Israeli firebombed
a daycare
for the young children of African refugees, and in
2014, an Israeli man was indicted for stabbing an Eritrean baby in the head.

Israel’s Labour ‘Opposition’ is as racist as Likud

According to
prosecutors, the man later
stated
: “I attacked
Black terrorists, there was a Black baby, they said that a Black baby, Blacks
in general, are terrorists.”
The
firebomber received only
community service
, while the stabber was sent
for psychiatric treatment
.
Since that
time, in separate incidents, two refugees – Haftom
Zarhum
from Eritrea and Babikir
Ali Adham-Uvdo
from Sudan – were beaten to death in public places
by Israeli mobs.
The charges
against Adham-Uvdo’s killers were reduced
from murder
.
One of the
killers is a minor whose sentence for “intentional injury” to Adham-Uvdo is yet
to be determined. The adult assailant received a maximum jail sentence of 10
years for manslaughter in a plea bargain
, although
he will probably be released in just a few years.
An Israeli
court is currently offering Zarhum’s killers community
service
.
Coerced to self-deport
This
anti-African incitement, coupled with the news that African refugees, including
some recently expelled from Israel
, have experienced torture,
extortion and detention in Libya, where open-air slave markets have been
documented, is taking a toll not only on
adults
, but on Israeli youth, as well.
In February,
one refugee
confessed
that a group of Israeli schoolchildren had
approached him on a public bus and asked him, “How much can we sell you for?”
With the
Rwanda-Uganda deal shelved in shame, and the UN deal for resettlement in the
West now derailed by Netanyahu himself, the fate of the 40,000 African refugees
left in Israel is once again unclear.
In lieu of
the UN deal, Netanyahu is now reportedly pressuring
coalition partners
to reopen the Holot
internment camp
that it closed
down only last month
in anticipation of the planned expulsions.
Starting in December
2013
, Israel rounded up thousands of African men into
this detention center, in order to pressure them to self-deport.
By
Netanyahu’s count, the government was able to coerce more
than 20,000
to leave Israel in this way – a third of the
African refugee community.
When the
Israeli high court forbade the government from keeping those men incarcerated
there for more than a year, the latter banned
the refugees
who it was compelled to release from moving back
to Tel Aviv or Eilat, the two Israeli cities with the largest
asylum-seeker communities at the time
.
As Israel
released Holot’s remaining inmates in March, it informed them that the list of
cities they were now forbidden from living or working in had mushroomed from
two to seven
, adding to the list Petah Tikva, Bnei Brak,
Ashdod, Netanya and Jerusalem.
Now
Netanyahu’s coalition partners say they may now pass an even
harsher version
of the so-called Anti-Infiltration Law which they
have used to criminalize refugees.
The new bill
would build in measures to insulate it from being overturned by the high court.
If they
follow through on their threat to neuter the court’s powers, there would no
longer be any legal impediment to jailing the African refugees indefinitely in
Holot until they agree to self-deport to whatever destination Israel coerces
them to go to.
David Sheen
is an independent writer and filmmaker. Born in Toronto, Canada, Sheen now
lives in Dimona. His website is
www.davidsheen.com and he can
be followed on Twitter:
@davidsheen.

 

 

 

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