Racism in Israel

This video is called Racism Report: Africans in Israel.

By Uri Avnery in Israel:

Racism, pure and simple

Tuesday 19 June 2012

“We shall not be a normal people, until we have Jewish whores and Jewish thieves in the Land of Israel,” our national poet Haim Nahman Bialik said some 80 years ago.

This dream has come true. We have Jewish murderers, Jewish robbers and Jewish whores – though most prostitutes in Israel are imported by international slave-traders from eastern Europe through the Sinai border.

But Bialik was too unambitious. He should have added: “We shall not become a normal people until we have Jewish neonazis and Jewish concentration camps.

The central news item nowadays in all Israel’s electronic and print media is the terrible danger of “illegal” African migrants.

African refugees and job-seekers are drawn to Israel for several reasons, none of which is an ardent belief in zionism.

The first is geographical. Israel is the only country with a European standard of living that can be reached from Africa without crossing a sea.

Africans can easily reach Egypt, and then they have only to cross the Sinai desert to get to the Israeli border.

The desert is the home of Bedouin tribes, for whom smuggling is an age-old occupation. Whether Libyan weapons for Hamas in Gaza, Ukrainian women for the brothels of Tel Aviv or job-seekers from Sudan – for good money, the Bedouin will get them all to their destination. On the way they may hold them for ransom or rape the women.

The Africans – mainly from North and South Sudan and Eritrea – are attracted by the Israeli labour market.

Israelis have long since ceased to do the menial jobs. They need people to wash the dishes in the posh restaurants, clean their homes and carry the heavy loads in the markets.

For years these jobs were done by Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza. After the intifadas, Israel’s government put an end to this. The Africans fill their place.

They are of course paid what Israelis consider hunger wages, but enough to enable the migrants to send money back to their families. Small sums of dollars look like fortunes back home.

To enable them to send the money, the migrants lead a dog’s life. Almost all of them are single men, crammed into dirty old houses in the slums of Tel Aviv and other towns, ogling the local girls, getting drunk for recreation.

The Israeli inhabitants of these slums, the poorest of the poor, hate them. They accuse them of all kinds of crimes, including rape, violent quarrels and murder.

They also believe that they carry dangerous diseases which are almost unknown in Israel, such as malaria and tuberculosis. Unlike Israelis, they have not been inoculated at birth.

All these accusations are of course vastly exaggerated. But one can understand the Israeli slum-dwellers who have to live with poor foreigners with whom they have no communication.

In such circumstances, racism flourishes. The Africans are easily recognised by their skin.

The usual racist verbiage – “they rape our women,” “they are all carrying deadly diseases,” “they are like animals” abounds. Plus there is a special Israeli one: “They endanger the Jewish state.”

All in all, there are now some 60,000 Africans in Israel, to which must be added about 3,000 newcomers every month.

There are also large numbers of – “legal” – Thais who work in agriculture, Chinese and Romanians in the building industry and Philippinos aiding the sick and elderly.

With Israel’s Jewish population amounting to 6.5 million, and Arab citizens making 1.5 million more, it is easy to depict the migrants as a terrible danger to the Jewishness of the state.

As a swamp draws mosquitos, such a situation draws rabble-rousers and hate-mongers. And we have no lack of these in Israel.

Two weeks ago riots erupted in Tel Aviv’s Hatikva quarter, one of the affected slums. Africans were attacked, African-owned shops looted.

As if drawn by magic, within record time all the well-known fascist agitators appeared on the scene, inciting the crowd against the Africans and leftist “bleeding hearts.”

The most media attention was given to a Likud member of parliament, Miri Regev. Not satisfied with the usual epithets, she shouted that the Africans were “a cancer.”

This expression, lifted from the lexicon of Goebbels, shocked many throughout the country.

Regev is a former chief spokeswoman of the Israeli army – appointed by former chief of staff Dan Halutz, who is remembered for his remark that, when dropping a bomb on a residential quarter, he feels nothing but a “slight bump on the wing.”

Regev hit the headlines with her speech and was rewarded with numerous TV interviews, in which she distinguished herself by using the language once attributed to fisherwomen (no insult to fisherwomen intended). She was, to put it bluntly, disgusting.

While on the subject of disgust, I have a personal hobby. Every week I choose – strictly for myself – the most disgusting person in Israeli public life. For the last few consecutive weeks my chosen laureate was Eli Yishai of the Oriental Orthodox party Shas.

Shas is totally dominated by one person – Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. He hires and fires the party’s political leadership. His word is law. When the last leader was sent to prison for stealing, Rabbi Ovadia produced Eli Yishai from nowhere.

As Interior Minister, Yishai has served mainly as a conduit of government money to his party’s institutions. In all other functions he has failed dismally.

For Yishai, the anti-African hysteria is a gift from his God. After telling the public that the migrants are criminals, carry diseases and endanger the Jewish state, he declared war on them.

Now the whole country is mobilised. Every day the number of deported Africans heads the news.

Yishai’s special “immigration police” are photographed pushing Africans into police vans. Yishai himself appears daily on TV to boast of his accomplishments.

The Knesset is discussing a Bill that would impose stiff prison terms (five years), plus a fine of half a million shekels (€100,000) on anyone employing an “illegal” worker.

Fortunately this law is yet in the works and will not apply to the wives of Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein who were caught employing illegal migrants at their homes. Their husbands of course knew nothing about it.

Most of all, Yishai brags about the huge manhunt now in progress. Africans cower in their miserable homes, not daring to go out into the streets. At night they are alert to every noise, fearing the dreaded knock of the immigration police on their door.

Trouble is, most of the 60,000 Africans come from Eritrea and North Sudan, to which the migrants cannot be sent back, because the Supreme Court has forbidden it.

Their repatriation would put their lives in danger. This leaves only the citizens of the new state of South Sudan, which has been liberated with the help of Israeli military advisers and arms. They are now being rounded up, in the full glare of publicity, to be deported.

What about the others? The government is now feverishly at work building huge tent camps in the arid Negev desert, in the middle of nowhere, in which tens of thousands of migrants will be imprisoned for three years in what cannot be anything other than inhuman conditions.

Since no foreign country is ready to take them in, they will probably stay there for much longer.

As of now, there is no water nor sanitary conditions. Women and children – born in Israel and Hebrew-speaking – will be housed separately. In the summer temperatures will easily reach 40°C. Life inside the tents will be hell.

Yishai and his colleague have a flair for laundered language. The migrants are called “infiltrators,” deportation is called “returning” and the prison camps will be called “residence camps.” Not concentration camps, God forbid.

I am aware that in several other “civilised” countries, migrants are treated as badly, or worse. This does not comfort me in the least.

I am also aware that there is a real problem which has to be solved. But not this way.

As a citizen of a state that calls itself “Jewish,” or even “the state of the Holocaust survivors,” I am disgusted.

I have heard innumerable times about nazi Jew-hunts, as well as US lynch mobs and Russian pogroms. There is no comparison of course but the pictures are popping up in my mind. I can’t help it.

Our treatment of the African refugees and migrants has nothing to do with the old conflict with the Arabs. It cannot be justified with arguments that concern the war and national security.

This is racism, pure and simple.

Uri Avnery is a former Knesset member and is founder of Gush Shalom (www.gush-shalom.org).

Three Eritreans stabbed in south Tel Aviv internet cafe. The suspect in the stabbing is a white Israeli man who fled the scene: here.

The religionalization of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict started on both sides: here.

‘German neo-Nazis aided Munich Olympic massacre’ of Israeli athletes: here.

8 thoughts on “Racism in Israel

  1. Sent: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 10:18 AM

    Subject: UNITED Press Release 20/06/2012 International Refugee Day – 20 June 2012

    UNITED Press Release 20/06/2012
    International Refugee Day – 20 JUNE 2012

    Will You Turn A Blind Eye?
    Against Fortress Europe

    – 16.264 deaths have been documented in UNITED’s List of Deaths since 1993
    – at least 804 people have died in the last year
    – On the 50th anniversary of the Geneva Convention in 2001, the United Nations declared June 20th as International Refugee Day.

    How many more years until European civil society realises what is going on?

    Death, detention, mistreatment, humiliation, and harassment are just some obstacles that migrants have to face in their search for a future. These obstacles are due to serious flaws in European and national asylum and immigration policies that threaten human life and dignity.

    UNITED for Intercultural Action, the pan-European network of more than 550 organisations working against racism, fascism, nationalism and in support of refugees and migrants has since 1993 waged an on-going campaign to raise awareness of the fatal realities of “Fortress Europe”.

    The situation that migrants face in Europe is more serious than ever. The current economic climate creates hostility towards them. Newspapers reveal an alarming increase in the attacks they endure, especially in the countries the most shaken by the crisis.

    In a report on 14 June, the Guardian newspaper quoted a candidate from right-wing Greek party Golden Dawn as saying, “If Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) gets into Parliament, it will carry out raids on hospitals and kindergartens and it will throw immigrants and their children out on the street so that Greeks can take their place”. The head of an association of Afghans told Kathimerini how the level of violence against migrants has risen since the elections “There are daily beatings. […] Most incidents are not known because immigrants do not notify authorities. They are afraid for their lives or don’t have legal papers or lack the funds to pay the cost of a lawsuit”.

    The frequency and severity of these attacks should make every European citizen question the decisions the European Union is taking in order to “control the influx of migrants” and “secure our borders”.

    Will you remain blind and deaf to these injustices? Will you continue to accept these policies, and the principles that underlie them? We cannot stand by as our governments totally disregard our commitment to equal rights, making policies in our name that have fatal consequences.

    The European antiracist movement wholly rejects the current security narrative, and calls for a political framework based on equality, justice and human rights. Above all, we demand that migrants’ right to life is respected and enforced all over Europe be it during their journey to reach our borders, at our borders themselves, or within them. We are here to make sure breaches of this fundamental right do not remain hidden.

    Today the organisations fighting for migrants’ rights must be supported by European civil society in its entirely. Without such unity it will be difficult to reverse current far-right trends, and turn the tide. What is happening cannot, and must not, be ignored by civil society. Our campaigning for the rights of every migrant should be stronger and more united than ever. The media is a key player in this process. Report and make visible these cases of migrants’ deaths; we need to expose them for what they are: a large scale phenomenon.

    The number of the death cases compiled in the UNITED List of Deaths speaks for itself.

    DO NOT IGNORE IT. Face the realities of “Fortress Europe”!

    The UNITED List of Deaths includes all 16.264 cases and is a powerful tool to lobby and raise awareness of the issues that refugees face all across Europe. The document is used for campaign activities, creative projects, political action, and as a source for research.

    Press Material
    UNITED List of Deaths
    Campaign Poster

    Background information:
    Fatal Realities of Fortress Europe

    For more information, please contact:
    UNITED for Intercultural Action
    phone +31-20-6834778
    fax +31-20-6834582


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