Violent ‘blacks out’ race riot in Tel Aviv
See also this week Right turns on ‘them’ – Africans and the wrong sort of Jew ]
By Jean-Luc Renaudie, Agence France-Presse
Violent race riots that shook southern Tel Aviv overnight sparked shock in Israel on Thursday, but also prompted top-level calls for the immediate arrest and expulsion of tens of thousands of African migrants.
The latest unrest to sweep the impoverished neighbourhoods around Tel Aviv’s central bus station erupted on Wednesday night when a demonstration of around 1,000 people who were protesting against the rising number of Africans moving into the area turned violent.
“Shock, violence and hatred of foreigners in Tel Aviv” was the headline in the Maariv daily, which described scenes of chaos as demonstrators went on the rampage with sticks and stones, attacking African-run shops and smashing up a car driven by two African men.
“Blacks out!” shouted demonstrators in the crowd, while others yelled “Send the Sudanese back to Sudan,” several media reports said, as other protesters derided the “bleeding-heart leftists” working to help them.
Most reports said the rally turned nasty after the crowd was whipped up by several racist speeches by right-wing MPs, several of them from the ruling Likud party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The infiltrators are a cancer in our body,” Likud MP Miri Regev told the crowd, as fellow MP Danny Danon shouted: “The infiltrators must be expelled from Israel! Expulsion now!”
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said 20 people had been arrested on suspicion of vandalizing shops and attacking cars driven by Africans, but added that there were no reports of anyone being injured.
The police have also extended the remand of seven Israeli minors accused of attacking African immigrants earlier this week, he said.
Interior ministry statistics show there are more than 60,000 African immigrants living illegally in Israel.
Some are asylum seekers fleeing persecution, while others are economic migrants. Almost all of them sneak across the border from the Egyptian Sinai and end up living in the run-down neighbourhoods around Tel Aviv’s bus station.
The issue of illegal immigration from Africa has thrown into relief sharp divisions within Israel, with many top officials, including Netanyahu, warning that their growing numbers pose a major threat to the security and identity of the Jewish state.
Despite the violence, Interior Minister Eli Yishai demanded on Thursday that all illegal African immigrants be put “behind bars” before kicking them all out.
“We must put all these infiltrators behind bars in detention and holding centres, then send them home because they come and take work from Israelis,” he told army radio.
Unless the government took urgent action, there would “soon be half a million to a million, and we cannot lose our country to this,” said the minister, who has frequently called for the expulsion of non-Jewish immigrants, sparking cries of racism.
Wednesday night’s violence made headlines in all the main Hebrew-language newspapers, as well as on the TV and radio stations, with army radio denouncing it as a “pogrom.”
In a bid to halt the influx of immigrants from Africa, Israel has been building a 250-kilometre (155-mile) fence along the Egyptian border. It has also built a vast detention centre near the border to house anyone caught crossing the frontier.
At the start of the year, Netanyahu said he was planning to visit several African capitals to discuss the issue of immigration, but so far no such plans have been made public.
The interior minister’s rabble-rousing rhetoric about African migrants killing the ‘Zionist dream’ must be challenged
Seth Freedman, Comment is Free, guardian.co.uk
“In 1936 my grandfather stood against the fascists in Cable Street. Today I did the same in Tel Aviv.” After five years on frontlines, Nic Schlagman is used to untrammelled hostility towards the African refugees and migrants with whom he works, but he says the situation has never been as critical as it is at present.
On Tuesday afternoon, he walked the few metres from the office of his NGO in downtown Tel Aviv to observe the latest hundreds-strong anti-migrant rally, organised by National Union Knesset member Michael Ben-Ari and supported by a throng of hard-right activists including notorious settler leader Baruch Marzel.
“The climate of fear amongst the African community is at fever pitch,” Schlagman said. “Mothers pulled their kids off the streets in anticipation of the marchers arriving, and everyone’s saying it’s only a matter of time until someone gets killed.” The spectre of such violence is hardly unfounded – a recent spate of arson attacks against a nursery and apartments housing refugees has revealed the level of hate coursing through the veins of Israelis furious at the influx of non-Jewish Africans into their country.
By Wednesday night, “race riots” had engulfed the area, with dozens of migrants reported beaten and shops and homes attacked.
Over recent days, reports of sexual assaults by African youths against Israeli girls has stoked the tension even higher, with interior minister Eli Yishai and prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu going on record withhyper-incendiary statements against the African community. Asserting that the flow of African migrants and asylum seekers “threatens Israel’s social fabric and national security”, Netanyahu promised to “physically remove the infiltrators … crack down and mete out tougher punishments”.
Yishai pulled no punches either with his rabble-rousing rhetoric, branding the vast majority of African migrants as criminals and calling for members of the community to be arrested and deported “without exception”, accusing the migrants of killing the “Zionist dream”.
Schlagman sees a clear link between such top-level incitement and the street-level vitriol being dished out verbally and physically to the vulnerable refugees of south Tel Aviv. “Politicians say these things in the morning, and by the afternoon we get bomb threats made to our office.”
Tuesday’s rally saw Marzel – never one to shy away from stirring up racial tension – lead his acolytes through the refugees’ neighbourhood, flying the flags of the banned extremist Kahane Chai group.
“Marzel [and Ben-Ari] are riding a wave of popular anger,” Schlagman commented. “They come to the area to stoke up anti-immigrant sentiment, using the classic narrative of the far right the world over.”
The police provided an armed escort for the marchers as they strode into the migrants’ midst, seemingly happy to let the demonstration take place under their noses. “But when a refugee community library applied for a permit to hold a youth art event for this weekend, the police refused them a permit – saying they couldn’t guarantee the safety of the children given the current climate,” says Schlagman.
Every year sees an upsurge in the number of refugees fleeing war-torn Africa to seek asylum in Israel, and the resentment felt by local Israelis increases in lockstep. The reaction of the Israeli public is hardly unique – witness the hostility of Italian, French and Dutch communities to similar situations – but that does not make it any easier to stomach, let alone justify, as some Israeli commentators are trying to do.
Ever ready to scramble aboard a good hardline bandwagon, the Jerusalem Post ran an absurd article claiming “the migrants have worn out their welcome”, as though the Jewish state had originally bent over backwards to accommodate their arrival in previous years.
When I first wrote about the situation four years ago, the Israeli foreign affairs department listed my Comment is free piece on their website as a way of twisting what I wrote to show how “kind” Israel was by comparison to other countries where Sudanese refugees were brutally persecuted. Even though the reality then was nothing like the pro-Israel propagandists claimed, the gloves are truly off now, with plans afoot tobuild “prison” cities to house all the non-Jewish Africans, and even tighter border fences being erected in the south of the country to keep out new groups seeking refuge in Israel.
Israel, as a signatory to the Geneva conventions, is massively failing in its duties to these refugees, and its politicians are giving succour to the lowest common denominator in Israeli society by promoting such a harsh and uncaring response.
Even sensible plans, such as calls by senior figures in the Israeli police to give migrants work permits to help lower the petty crime rate, are met with barrages of hate from Yishai: “Why should we provide them with jobs? I’m sick of the bleeding hearts … Jobs would settle them here, they’ll make babies, and that offer will only result in hundreds of thousands more coming over here.”
Comments such as his and Netanyahu’s inevitably fan the flames (both metaphorical and physical) that lead to such hostility towards those who deserve the utmost care and kindness in their hour of distress. Israeli opponents of such base racism must act now because, as the savage events of Wednesday night proved, the south Tel Aviv cauldron is starting to bubble over with devastating and disastrous effect.
Seth Freedman is a writer living in Jerusalem
[A]dopted on November 10, 1975 by a vote of 72 to 35 (with 32 abstentions), “determine[d] that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination”. The resolution was revoked by Resolution 46/86 on December 16, 1991. In the history of the UN, this is the only resolution that has ever been revoked
United Nations General Assembly Resolution 46/86 passed on December 16, 1991, revoked Resolution 3379 with a vote of 111 to 25, with 13 abstentions.
Israel made revocation of resolution 3379 a condition of its participation in the Madrid Peace Conference, in progress in the last quarter of 1991. Under pressure from the administration of President George H.W. Bush in the United States, the UN passed the resolution. The text of the revocation was simply:
“The general assembly decides to revoke the determination contained in its resolution 3379 (XXX) of 10 November 1975.”
This formed resolution 46/86, which is one of the shortest in UN history. During this session, President Bush told the General Assembly:
“…to equate Zionism with the intolerable sin of racism is to twist history and forget the terrible plight of Jews in World War IIand indeed throughout history.”
The motion was supported by 111 (including the 90 nations who sponsored the resolution), opposed by 25 nations and abstained by 13 nations.
Poll: Half of Israeli high schoolers oppose equal rights for Arabs
Nearly half of Israeli teens surveyed say they would refuse to evacuate West Bank settlements.
By Or Kashti, Haaretz
Nearly half of Israel’s high school students do not believe that Israeli-Arabs are entitled to the same rights as Jews in Israel, according to the results of a new survey released yesterday. The same poll revealed that more than half the students would deny Arabs the right to be elected to the Knesset.
The survey, which was administered to teenagers at various Israeli high schools, also found that close to half of all respondents – 48 percent – said that they would refuse orders to evacuate outposts and settlements in the Palestinian territories.
Nearly one-third – 31 percent – said they would refuse military service beyond the Green Line.
The complete results of the poll will be presented today during an academic discussion hosted jointly by Tel Aviv University’s School of Education and the Citizens’ Empowerment Center in Israel. The symposium will focus on various aspects of civic education in the country.
“Jewish youth have not internalized basic democratic values,” said Prof. Daniel Bar-Tal, one of the conference organizers.
The poll was commissioned last month by Maagar Mochot, an Israeli research institution, under the supervision of Prof. Yitzhak Katz. It took a sampling of 536 Jewish and Arab respondents between the ages of 15-18.
The survey sought to gauge youth attitudes toward the State of Israel; their perspective on new immigrants and the state’s Arab citizens; and their political stances.
The results paint a picture of youth leaning toward political philosophies that fall outside the mainstream.
In response to the question of whether Arab citizens should be granted rights equal to that of Jews, 49.5 percent answered in the negative. The issue highlighted the deep fault lines separating religious and secular youths, with 82 percent of religious students saying they opposed equal rights for Arabs while just 39 percent of secular students echoed that sentiment.
The secular-religious gap was also present when students were faced with the question of whether Arabs should be eligible to run for office in the Knesset. While 82 percent of those with religious tendencies answered in the negative, 47 percent of secular teens agreed. In total, 56 percent said Arabs should be denied this right altogether.
The survey also delved into the issue of military service and following orders that are deemed politically divisive.
While an overwhelming majority (91 percent) expressed a desire to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces, 48 percent said they would not obey an order to evacuate outposts and settlements in the West Bank.
Here, too, researchers note the religious nexus. Of those who would refuse evacuation orders, 81 percent categorize themselves as religious as opposed to 36 percent who are secular.
“This poll shows findings which place a huge warning signal in light of the strengthening trends of extremist views among the youth,” said an Education Ministry official.
The survey, which also revealed that a relatively high number of youth plan on voting and that democracy is still the preferred system of government, indicates “a gap between the consensus on formal democracy and the principles of essential democracy, which forbid the denial of rights to the Arab population,” the official said.
“The differences in positions between secular and religious youth, which are only growing sharper from a demographic standpoint, need to be of concern to all of us because this will be the face of the state in another 20-30 years,” said Bar-Tal. “There is a combination of fundamentalism, nationalism, and racism in the worldview of religious youth.”