The Israeli prime minister has stoked a volatile debate about refugees and migrant workers from Africa, warning that “illegal infiltrators flooding the country” were threatening the security and identity of the Jewish state.
“If we don’t stop their entry, the problem that currently stands at 60,000 could grow to 600,000, and that threatens our existence as a Jewish and democratic state,” Binyamin Netanyahu said at Sunday’s cabinet meeting. “This phenomenon is very grave and threatens the social fabric of society, our national security and our national identity.” Israel’s population is 7.8 million.
His comments follow media reports of rising crime, including two gang rapes, in southern Tel Aviv, where many African migrants are concentrated. However, Micky Rosenfeld, spokesman for the Israeli police, said the overall crime rate in Israel had fallen. There had been one alleged rape of a teenage girl connected to the migrant community, for which three suspects were in custody, he added.
Yohanan Danino, the Israeli police chief, said migrants should be permitted to work to discourage petty crime. Nearly all are unable to work legally, and live in overcrowded and impoverished conditions. “The community needs to be supported in order to prevent economic and social problems,” said Rosenfeld.
But the interior minister, Eli Yishai, rejected such a move, saying: “Why should we provide them with jobs? I’m sick of the bleeding hearts, including politicians. Jobs would settle them here, they’ll make babies, and that offer will only result in hundreds of thousands more coming over here.”
Yishai repeated an earlier call for all migrants to be jailed pending deportation. “I want everyone to be able to walk the streets without fear or trepidation … The migrants are giving birth to hundreds of thousands, and the Zionist dream is dying,” he told Army Radio. Last week he said most migrants were involved in criminal activity.
According to police data quoted by the Hotline for Migrant Workers, the crime rate among foreigners in Israel was 2.04% in 2010, compared with 4.99% among Israelis.
More than 13,500 people entered Israel illegally in 2010, of whom almost two-thirds were Eritrean and one-third were Sudanese. Three were granted refugee status by Israel, rising to six last year. Human rights organisations say more than 50,000 asylum seekers and migrants have entered Israel illegally since 2005.
Most are smuggled across the Israel-Egypt border by Bedouin tribesmen. Israel is constructing a vast steel fence through 150 miles of the Sinai desert as a deterrent to people-trafficking and the smuggling of drugs and weapons. The barrier would be completed, bar one small section, by October, Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu said the state would embark on “the physical withdrawal” of migrants, despite fears among human rights organisations about the dangers they could face in their home countries. Yishai said: “I’m not responsible for what happens in Eritrea and Sudan, the UN is.”
As tensions rise in cities with relatively high African populations, the past month has seen a spate of attacks on buildings in south Tel Aviv that house asylum seekers and migrant workers. In one incident, a Molotov cocktail was thrown into the courtyard of a kindergarten. NGOs working with migrants have also received abusive and threatening calls.
Amid the anti-immigration clamour, some Israelis have argued that, in the light of Jewish history, their state should be sympathetic and welcoming to those fleeing persecution.
Dozens of African asylum seekers were injured as race riots broke out in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night.
Thousands of protesters joined politicians to protest against the arrival of an estimated 60,000 asylum seekers in Israel in recent years. But after inflammatory speeches the demonstration broke out into violence.
Witnesses reported seeing men and women being beaten and shops and properties being attacked. Police said nine people were arrested.
The protesters were addressed by politicians including Miri Regev and Danny Danon of the ruling Likud Party. According to the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, Regev described the asylum seekers as a “cancer in our body,” and promised to do everything “in order to bring them back to where they belong”.
Danny Danon, who heads a lobby group which seeks to deal with the issue of illegal immigration, said the only solution to the problem would be to “begin talking about expulsion”.
“We must expel the infiltrators from Israel. We should not be afraid to say the words ‘expulsion now’,” he was reported as saying.
Thousands of asylum seekers have arrived in Israel from Eritea and South Sudan, escaping poverty but also oppressive regimes and political instability.Most are bound for Europe, but find Libya blocked to them by the government and civil war.
Often travellers are taken to Israel by Bedouin people smugglers, abused and held to ransom for months at a time before they are deposited on the border where Israel is building a new fence. Once in Israel, they are looked after by Israeli non-governmental agencies and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
Some work illegally and the majority live in the poorest areas of Tel Aviv where they find themselves in competition with working class Israelis mostly from a Middle Eastern or north African background. The sparse greens and parks of south Tel Aviv are dominated by the African migrants who sleep there at night.
Anger has been growing in the city and earlier this year the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the migrants threatened the Jewish character of Israel.
“Get your priorities straight. – Twenty years from now it won’t really matter what shoes you wore today, how your hair looked, or what brand of jeans you bought. What will matter is how you loved, what you learned and how you applied this knowledge.”—Marc and Angel Hack Life
“Writing is like everything else: the more you do it the better you get. Don’t try to perfect as you go along, just get to the end of the damn thing. Accept imperfections. Get it finished and then you can go back. If you try to polish every sentence there’s a chance you’ll never get past the first chapter.”—Iain Banks (via writingquotes)
I just learned about Lady Jay from reading this article on ACCRA [dot] ALT. I loved the article and how you really get to know a lil about her as a person and an artist. Also check out this article they wrote about her.
“Only those who truly love and who are truly strong can sustain their lives as a dream. You dwell in your own enchantment. Life throws stones at you, but your love and your dream change those stones into the flowers of discovery. Even if you lose, or are defeated by things, your triumph will always be exemplary. And if no one knows it, then there are places that do. People like you enrich the dreams of the worlds, and it is dreams that create history. People like you are unknowing transformers of things, protected by your own fairy-tale, by love.”—Ben Okri (via amal-leila)
Is wearing Kente cloths/African styled patterns appropriative for non-african blacks? Do you see it as appropriation when African Americans where these patterns…
I have mixed feelings about this. One side is that Non-africans shouldn’t wear it because they have no idea about the history of these patterns and when and why we wear them. To them, it’s another fashion statement. The other side is that we Africans who wear these prints and patterns often wear them as fashion statements too and some of us don’t know the origins of them and why they are worn.
This issue of cloth and kente always bothers me when I see people wearing certain items in the wrong way. I know a bit about cloth and kente because my mother for the longest time sold both and also my mother is very much immersed in our (asante) culture, tradition and customs.
Yes wax print is of dutch origin but the cloths also have meaning and even grades. There are low grades of cloth that you can get for $20/6 yards and grades that you can get for $100 or more/6 yards. Real Kente is very very expensive and seen as a treasure if you have some in your closet.
For many cloths there are reasons you wear them. Black and white amongst the asante is used for funerals and thanksgiving ceremonies. Some cloths say (you can find it written on the edge in twi) things like “Death spoils a house”. That would help you know that this is a funeral cloth and should not be used for anything but funerals or for thankgiving services after the burial of a loved one.
To me when I see people making a bikini or bow tie out of certain cloth I get a lil upset because that material they used has a meaning and also is of a very high grade. So I always pray that those were the scraps of a beautiful dress and they didnt want to waste the material.
As for Kente, I never want to see someone use real Kente to make a bow tie that annoys me. Traditionally you can’t even make certain dress styles with kente. It’s not allowed, it ruins the fabric and the meaning behind it. My cousin wanted to make a tube dress out of Kente and she got the lecture of her life about how it is not allowed.
I know for some people they see the cloth and Kente and just think it’s beautiful but they have to understand that to others it’s not just beautiful it’s our heritage and means the world to us.
This article confused me that I am even having trouble putting my words properly down on this page.
It spoke of black women and their love for their pastors since a young age and how the pastors word was law in their lives.
“Black women also love their pastors. Millions of black women show up to church religiously (pun intended), quote the bible regularly and even take notes when the pastor speaks”.
It also spoke of how Barack Obama has hindered that love black women have for their pastors. Now black women spend their moments thinking of Barack, that Michelle has to be scared and worried of Black women trying to snatch up her husband.
“The emergence of Barack Obama out of nowhere garnered enough black female attention that Michelle needs to watch her back at every turn”.
The article goes on to say that now that Barack Obama has come out and said he is for gay marriage black women are now going to have to fight gay men for “their man”
“Another telling challenge for black women might be the pronouncement of President Obama as “The First Gay President.” Having their man stolen by a homosexual is probably the greatest nightmare of nearly every black woman in America”.
The article finishes by saying black women are in a dilemma of whether or not to listen to their pastor or their president Barack Obama now that he has said he supports gay marriage.
“Black women have been President Obama’s most loyal constituency. Asking these women to abandon the teachings of the pastor and bible that they’ve loved for so many decades could possibly be too much to ask”.
I dont live in America, Im Canadian. This article confused me. While reading it I kept thinking are all black women in America Christians? Are all black women trying to steal Barack Obama that Michelle has secret service body checking any black woman that gets closer to her man? Do all black women in America hate gay men and the idea of gay marriage?
The answer is NO. People need to stop writing about black women like we come out of the same cookie cutter. It is beyond annoying and very insulting.
I am a black woman who goes to church. I don’t worship my pastor (only my God). I question what he says and whether it aligns with me and my beliefs, that is the reason we all have our own bible to read and figure things out for ourselves. I know many black women who love the idea of Barack and Michelle being together that they would never want anyone to step in and ruin that union. As for me I believe in loving my neighbour as I love myself. It never said what kind of neighbour just that I should love my neighbour.