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Thursday, 1 February 2018

The Fight Against the Expulsion of African Refugees Is a Pivotal Moment in Israel's History

“Israel is one of the most racist countries in the world.” Tahunia Rubel

Why does Jeremy Newmark's Jewish Labour Movement refuse to criticise the Israeli Labour Party for its support for the deportation of Israel's asylum seekers?

How does NEC ‘Left’ Rhea Wolfson Defend Her Silence over the the JLM's refusal to criticise the Israeli Labor Party?


You might want to ask @jeremy_newmark @jewishlabour @rheawolfson


According to the Times of Israel there are approximately 38,000 African migrants and asylum seekers in Israel, of whom 72 percent are Eritrean and 20% are Sudanese.  In Israel this week there have been unprecedented demonstrations of support for Israel's Black African asylum seekers whom Netanyahu is seeking to deport to Rwanda and Uganda.  

The reasons for the deportation are simple - they are Black and even worse not Jewish.  It should be noted that there are thousands of Russian immigrants who are not Jewish but there is a crucial difference - they are white.  
However we should not be fooled into thinking that those who have spoken out, not least Israel's holocaust survivors, represent a majority.  
A Channel 10 poll released on Sunday indicated that a majority of Israelis support expelling African migrants from the country (56%-32%).

Another poll on the settler newssite Arutz Sheva found that 58% of Israelis supported the deportation of the asylum seekers and 23% were opposed.
Asked if they support the government’s decision to deport the migrants, 56% of respondents said yes, 32% said no and another 12% said they did not know.
Despite a majority supporting deportation, only 44% said they would be in favor of forcibly removing the migrants, as compared to 46% who said they opposed doing so. Another 10% of respondents said they did not know.
Dr Shlomo Mor-Yosef, director-general of the Population and Immigration Authority, told Hadashot TV news that it was 'only' single men who were now being considered for deportation.  Obviously this is a big climb down but there is no reason why the deportation of men is any more acceptable than that of women.
What is disgraceful is that the so-called Opposition in Israel, the Israeli Labour Party, supports Netanyahu's deportation plans and that their 'sister party' in Britain, the Jewish Labour Movement refuses to utter one single word of criticism.  
That is another reason why this hypocritical racist group should be disaffiliated from the Labour Party.
Tony Greenstein
Netanyahu and Rwanda's President Paul Kgame meet at Davos
If the government successfully deports thousands of asylum seekers, it will encourage the pursuit of even more malicious plans
Whether or not the deportation of African asylum seekers happens, Israel is facing nothing less than a test case that will shape its future.

It’s impossible not to shocked by the malice and racism behind this ethnic cleansing plan – the removal of non-Jewish black people on account of their skin color. The fate of 35,000 people should touch the hearts of every decent Israeli, but the issue is much broader and more important. On the agenda are hidden, far-reaching plans that only the extreme right talks about for now, but which one day could develop into an action plan. The expulsion of the African refugees is a pilot program of great import to the government and its opponents.


If this mini-expulsion succeeds, expect more to come: prepare for a population transfer. If the first operation is successful, it will buoy hopes for additional expulsions. Israel will learn it can do it; that no one will stop it. And when Israel is capable of acting, it does so without holding back. Twice it brutally laid waste to the Gaza Strip, because it could, and it will do so again until somebody stops it.
On the other hand, if the deportation of the asylum seekers fails, this will show that the part of Israel with a conscience has more power and influence than is apparent; that where there’s a will there’s a way. Its test will be to continue to fight, with the same means and determination, against other crimes. It too will draw hope from success.
Israel's racist South Tel Aviv Jewish residents demonstrate outside the home of Miriam Naor, Israel's Chief Justice - Israel's Supreme Court is seen as too liberal even though it has given the go ahead for forcible deportations
That’s why the African precedent is so important, why the expulsion plans and the battle to stop them cannot be underestimated. The fight has already proved itself: The commander of the expulsion, Dr. Shlomo Mor-Yosef – the director general of the Interior Ministry’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority– announced he will only deport unmarried men of working age. It’s the first surrender in the face of broad public pressure – broader than anticipated – but it is meaningless. It is no more legitimate to abuse men than it is to abuse women or even old people. Expulsion is expulsion, whether of men or women. Mor-Yosef tried clumsily to sanction a sin, but his very need to hide behind “we’re only deporting men, so we’re all right” is an achievement. It can be assumed that, embarrassed, he will soon resign from his shameful post.

But that is not enough. If the anti-deportation fight persists – including the acts of resistance that are so vital to it – the Netanyahu government will be forced to back down. Without pilots, there can be no expulsion flights and refugees cannot be hunted down in the face of pockets of civil disobedience.


If this expulsion plan is foiled, the left will learn that the only way to prevail is through sacrifice and disobedience; rallies are ineffective. The anti-deportation camp will come to realize it can prevent crimes, but only if it is prepared to dig in and sacrifice; that not everything is ordained by the heavens or the right. And the government will learn it is not omnipotent, and that it has an active opponent with a conscience. It is worth recalling that a different ethnic cleansing operation – in the Jordan Valley and the south Hebron Hills – has not faced significant civil resistance.

The next expulsion attempt could be that of Arab lawmakers from the Knesset. Everyone will deny it, but the undercurrents are there. It could happen overnight, with various and sundry pretexts employed to make them illegal. After all, who wouldn’t want that? The masses would be in favor, for sure, and the government too. Who would object? All that’s needed is the right opportunity. The danger is closer than it appears. Who would believe that just 40 years ago, Israel proudly took in dozens of so-called boat people, refugees from Vietnam.

Afterward, at some point, the real plan will be raised: To expel the Palestinians from the territories, or at least from part of them. Under the cover of a war or an uprising, with a great many security excuses. It could happen. It sounds like fiction now, but the successful expulsion of the African refugees will lend support to the idea that expulsion is a feasible option. Sounds crazy? Sure. A few years ago it was crazy to think that this country of refugees would forcibly load handcuffed refugees onto planes and send them to their fate in miserable places, as it plans to do in the near future.

By Jehron Muhammad -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Jan 24, 2018 - 5:13:19 PM
Israeli Ethiopians clash with border police officers during a demonstration in Jerusalem, April 30, 2015. Hundreds of protesters, mainly members of Israel's Ethiopian immigrant community, have rallied in Jerusalem, pelting the police with stones and bottles and denouncing what they said was discrimination against them because of their race. Photo: AP/Wide World photos
Why did Ethiopian-born Israeli model and actress Tahunia Rubel, who became famous on the Israeli version of “Big Brother,” say, “Israel is one of the most racist countries in the world.” 
In the widely circulated daily Yedioth Aharanot, Rubel added, “We have a screwed-up government … and the police are total idiots.” People in Israel find it strange to see an Ethiopian woman who behaves like an Israeli,” she said. 
Rubel’s recent comments, in part, stem from a new Israeli program forcing thousands of African immigrants out of the country. The United Nations called on Israel to scrap this program, condemning it as incoherent and unsafe. This “scheme,” as the UK-based Guardian newspaper called it, “has led to thousands of people being offered $3,500 and a plane ticket if they leave the country by March” with a warning that they face arrest and indefinite detention after the deadline.
Israel is home to roughly 40,000 asylum seekers, including 27,500 Eritrean and 7,800 Sudanese asylum seekers, the UN refugee agency reported.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted the move against asylum seekers, who he referred to as “infiltrators,” would help the country “guard its borders,” reported Al-Jazeera.
The infiltrators have a clear choice—cooperate with us and leave voluntarily, respectively, humanely and legally, or we will have to use other tools at our disposal, which are also according to the law,” Mr. Netanyahu said.
Mr. Netanyahu, according to Haaretz, is looking into an alternative plan focusing on forced deportation over indefinite incarceration of asylum seekers. Many refugees say they’d opt for incarceration over leaving. Israelis would then face a serious financial burden and space shortages in state prisons. 
Netanyahu declared “we are on a mission to give back south Tel Aviv to the Israel residents.” The area, he said, has seen an influx of African migrants and been taken over by “illegal infiltrators.” Because of migrants, Tel Aviv residents are pained and under “terrible distress,” he declared. It’s “the right of the state of Israel to maintain its borders and to remove illegal infiltrators from it,” said the Israeli prime minister.
“International law says that if you are a refugee from a country that’s at war or war torn, you can’t send that person back,” said Marc Lamont Hill, author, activist and professor of media studies and urban education at Philadelphia’s Temple University.
During an exclusive interview with The Final Call, Mr. Hill, who is also an anthropologist and working on a master’s degree in Middle East studies, was critical of Israel’s claim to be the region’s only democracy and at the same time limit refugees seeking asylum, especially those from African countries.
Mr. Hill, who has spent considerable time visiting refugee camps inside of Israel, said Israeli officials are careful not to refer to asylum seekers as refugees. They are referred to as “infiltrators” or “invaders,” he said.
They refer to a law, and this designation of invaders, emerged in 1952,” he explained. “So, the law was used initially to ethnically cleanse Palestinians, but now it’s being used once again to buck international law to deny refugee status to Arabs and Christians. The only folk they will let in are African Jews.”
That may be changing, according to the online publication theGrio.com: “A Kenyan citizen and Jewish convert Yehudah Kimani was deported recently, hours after he had arrived in Israel on a visa to study at a yeshiva.
Detained at the airport, he was not allowed to contact his Israeli sponsors. ‘Do you want half of Africa coming here?’ asked one visa official, denying allegations of racial discrimination but defending the deportation of the Black jew.”
The updated version of Israel’s controversial Nationality Law disrupts the claim of Israel’s two principal features, being Jewish and democratic. It provides cover to legally sanction efforts to bolster Israel’s Jewish identity at the expense of others, including equal and lawful treatment of minorities. This includes relegating the Arabic language, spoken by 1.8 million Arabs and a quarter of Israel’s population, to “a special status” as a minority language, and upgrading Hebrew as the country’s sole official language, reported the Israeli daily Hamodia. 
Having visited Holot detention facility in the Negav Desert, in Israel, Mr. Hill said, “Many of them (when entering Israel) go to downtown Tel Aviv trying to find work, trying to find jobs to survive. And soon after they get picked up and taken to these camps.” But it’s not like a “traditional camp, but more like a military base,” he explained.  
“And when you go there, and I’ve asked these brothers and they say uniformly this feels like prison. They have a time to show up, they got a time to leave. They can walk off base, but they can’t go far. The state pays them 12 shekels a day, about $3. So, what they typically do is pool their money and try and eat together because they’re not given enough money to purchase an adequate meal,” said Mr. Hill. 
He believes Israel is about the business of “cleansing the country of Black and Brown folk, of Muslims and of course most importantly of Palestinians.” This is what the “settlement expansion is about. That is what the deportations is about,” Mr. Hill said. He said what they also are banking on “is our divisions.”  Since there is no “united Africa, no United States of Africa, no unified African body, they feel like they can dismiss Eritrean and Sudanese folk,” and the rest of Africa won’t raise a finger to come to their defense, he added.
Inspired by Anne Frank, a Jewish girl hidden from Nazis during WWII, some Israeli rabbis are planning to hide African asylum seekers facing deportation. “A group of Israeli rabbis,” reported Haaretz, including the sister of comedian Sarah Silverman, launched an activist program, which has gone viral, calling on Israelis to hide African asylum seekers facing expulsion. 
Between 2009 and 2016, Israel granted official refugee status to 0.07 percent of all its Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers, a total of four people.

Israel Places Bounty on Heads of African Refugees

African refugees demonstrate outside Rwandan Embassy in Tel Aviv
This just goes from bad to worse…
After the Israeli Knesset deliberated on a bill which would essentially expel almost all of the 40,000 African refugees who have sought a haven there from civil wars and ethnic cleansing in their African homelands, Israeli human rights groups, Holocaust survivors and American Jewish leaders have decried this new form of Israeli racism.
Israeli migrant camp
The bill would offer refugees two stark choices: either accept an offer to be “voluntarily” expelled to an unnamed African country, along with a one-time $3,500 payment; or be permanently jailed in an Israeli detention center with no hope of release or asylum.  Bibi Netanyahu lies, of course, when he calls this procedure legal under international law and claims that it is entirely voluntary on the part of the Africans:
Netanyahu added…that the arrangements “guarantee personal safety for those who exit Israel. They receive approvals allowing them to live, work and integrate into the country. If they want, they can also return to their home countries. They are receiving significant financial aid from us.”
Detailed investigative reports by Israeli media prove that this is absolute rubbish.  On landing in Rwanda, the expellees are stateless.  They have no rights.  They may not work.  They can be picked up at any moment by local police and thrown in prison.  Many of them leave Rwanda at first opportunity and flee to Uganda, where they are also vulnerable.  From there many try to make their way to Libya and Europe.  Quite a few have been kidnapped in Libya, held for ransom or even beheaded by ISIS.  Thus Bibi’s claims are not only lies, they are heartless lies.
Israeli ministry advertises for bounty hunters to capture African refugees
There were numerous problems with this proposal aside from the protests I’ve mentioned: once the media revealed that Rwanda was the third-party country to which the refugees would be transported, its genocidaire leader, Paul Kagame, announced that of course his country would offer haven to anyone seeking safe harbor in his country; but that he had made no “secret deal” with Israel to accept refugees.  Uganda, another country mentioned as a destination for the expellees, also denied any agreement.
Later, even more damning evidence was reported: that in addition to the payment to the individual refugee, Rwanda would receive $5,000 per head.  If it accepted all 40,000 that would mean a payment of $200-million, an extraordinary sum.
Today, in the climactic house of horrors that is this story, the Israeli immigration overseeing refugees announced a bounty of $9,000 for Israelis deputized to hunt for those who refuse to leave and attempt to slip back into the woodwork undetected:
Bounty hunters and slave catchers lay in wait for unsuspecting runaway slaves in the North
…The Population and Immigration Authority said it would pay up to 30,000 Israeli shekels ($8,845) for civilians to carry out an “enterprise of national importance.” That included undertaking “enforcement tasks” against migrants that involved detecting, investigating, and arresting them. Candidates are expected to start in March 2018, a month before the country starts its designated “voluntary” process to return migrants to their country of origin or a third one.
The reason this is particularly horrible?  The Nazis too put a bounty on the heads of Jews and those who turned them in earned quite a tidy sum for their efforts.  If you’ve read Huckleberry Finn or know the history of American slavery, you’ll recall that slave owners employed such bounty hunters to capture and return their runaway slaves.  The entire enterprise stinks to high heaven.  I find myself continually thinking that no one in the Israeli government appears to have a brain in their head when they consider such proposals.  They don’t seem either to under the historical echoes of what they do; or else they don’t care (or both).

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