Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Israeli Government Ramps Up Hatred Of African Refugees Fleeing Persecution

Posted by Christopher Coen on February 24, 2012

Over the past several weeks has came news that Israel will deport southern Sudanese refugees to South Sudan, claiming that their safety is now ensured by the South’s declaration of independence last summer — even though the fledgling country is far from safe or stable for these refugees (see Haaretz article). What sense this makes escapes me since the southern Sudanese are natural allies of Israel, having experienced large-scale murderous attacks by the Islamist government of Sudan. At the same time, Israel is also ramping up hatred of other African refugees feeling persecution. (Israel has re-branded these refugees as “infiltrators” and “a threat to the fabric of Jewish society” — refusing to accept 1500 people per month, mostly African Muslims, while importing workers for cheap labor from East Asia – primarily the Philippines and Thailand.) When will we hear US refugee agencies speak out against these human rights violations? An article in Aljazeera explains the situation:

The notion of a “Jewish and democratic state”, never a feasible reality, continues to unravel as its inherent racism is revealed in a new way. Any political discussion of refugees that are of the wrong ethnicity inevitably refers to African migration to Israel as an “existential threat”. Labelling these refugees as “threats” allows the state to criminalise and imprison them…

…State officials estimate that around 2,000 asylum seekers enter the country every month. Most of the men end up in Levinsky Park in southern Tel Aviv. At any time during the day or night, one can find young black African men sitting on the park’s benches, swings and concrete walls. In late January, a man who lived in the park died from exposure during the night.

The majority of the men who live in Levinsky Park are from Eritrea and Darfur…

…While community members and organisations have responded to the refugee-related crises developing in the country’s founding city by setting up an emergency shelter and serving warm dinners to a hungry crowd, these generous gestures are the exception in a state that fosters growing hostility to outsiders…

…”This is how the public becomes racist,” Yohannes Bayu, the director of African Refugee Development Centre (ARDC), tells me, explaining the government’s campaign against African asylum seekers, who are labelled as “labour infiltrators”…

…the media and the government has ramped up this hatred,” explains Bayu.

But Bayu adds that overt racism in Israeli society has become common, “People are attacked on the streets. People are not allowed to rent houses to African refugees.”…

…The desperate men – and some women – who leave their families and homelands behind in Africa escape torture, forced military conscription and murder. As confirmed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Eritrea and Sudan have been two of the top producers of refugees over the past two years. These states’ betrayals of their own citizens have rendered tens of thousands stateless.

Conventions and detentions

Israeli politicians’ claims that only a “drizzle” of the African immigrants are rightfully refugees is quickly belied by the fact that almost none of the men are deported. Of the approximately 17,000 asylum seekers who reached Israel in 2011 via Egypt, only 270 have been returned to Egypt. Israel is a party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees…

However, allowing asylum seekers to remain in the country without rights hardly fulfills the directions of the Convention, which was composed in 1951 after the world saw and acknowledged the dangers posed to stateless human beings.

Before reaching Israel’s borders, asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan must survive a harrowing journey across the Sinai. They routinely experience rape and enslavement, and are reportedly the targets of organ traffickers.

Whether jumping the fence or walking across the border into Israel, asylum seekers are immediately picked up by border police and taken to a detention centre where they are held for weeks or months. …immigration authorities will begin holding these men to the extent of [a] new law – three years – once [a] new detention centre is built…

…for now the scenario for these men follows a predictable pattern: They are released in less than three months and given a three to six-month visa and then bussed up to Levinsky Park in Tel Aviv, where they are left to fend for themselves… Read more here

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5 Responses to “Israeli Government Ramps Up Hatred Of African Refugees Fleeing Persecution”

  1. derrick333 said

    I don’t see how these refugees could be any threat to the Jewish democracy. With a little support the Darfurians and Sudanese could work in Israel while going to school and preparing for their future back home.

  2. cory82 said

    Three years detention is abusive.

  3. diana3211 said

    Israel faces the possibility of infiltration from the Islamist governments that refugees are feeling from. The country has a right to protect itself. Long term detention of illegal aliens is certainly not unheard of in the U.S. Why also do you single out Israel for criticism? Have you checked the human rights records of other countries in the middle east?

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