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Israel: African migrants face systematic discrimination

Hanan Jibril

February 2, 2014

African migrants have been protesting all over Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and towns. While living in fear of being deported back to the danger in their countries, migrants are subjected to violence and racism in Israel. 
Many of the migrants are from Eritrea and migrated to Israel from Egypt. Other migrants are from western and southern Sudan. There is a catastrophic humanitarian crisis in all of those regions where African migrants or refugees are coming from. But the Isreali government, including the Prime Minister, are treating the migrants as a threat to Israel who do not deserve asylum.  
Systematic racism and discrimination
Added to the struggle of migration is the oppressive, racist attitude of the Israeli government, which claims their presence as a “demographic threat to Israel.” Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, called Africans “infiltrators” and said that they threaten Israel’s Jewish social fabric. Earlier, former Kenesset Member Ya’akov Katz proposed to make a separate state for people of colour in Isreal before being deported from the country.
In December 2011 the Mayor of Tel Aviv Ron Huldai demanded that the government take "immediate emergency actions" against the migrants: "Israel cannot continue to ignore the growing wave of immigrants which at this point it is clear to everyone that they infiltrate to Israel as migrant workers and that they are not in an existential threat.” Huldai vowed to protect Israel's borders against "infiltration" and also to assign the necessary resources for the immigrants who already entered the country "and caused severe distress to the residents of the neighborhoods who were forced to deal with this influx." Recently, Israel, passed open-detention law, which allows migrants to be sent to a desert prison. 
Attorney Omer Shatz of the human rights group Anu Plitim (We are Refugees), condemned the Tel Aviv mayor’s statement: “The mayor of the Hebrew city and the Jewish Prime Minister have forgotten that Israel is itself a nation of refugees and survivors.” But the Western imperial powers used the horrors of the Holocaust to impose an apartheid state on Palestinian land, which also oppresses migrants.
On December 2013 and January 2014, thousands protested in Tel Aviv against detention of asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea. The protesters marched from Levinsky Park in South Tel Aviv to the city centre, decrying the detention without trial of African refugees in the Saharonim and Holot detention facilities. On January 5, tens of thousands of African migrant workers and asylum seekers and their supporters joined the protest. African asylum seekers went on a three-day strike. The struggle against Israeli apartheid--which oppresses indigenous Palestinians and African migrants--continues.


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