Dawn Muenchrath/the Gauntlet

Israeli treatment of asylum seekers racist

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In the name of protecting their Jewish identity, the Israeli government and people are running a discriminatory campaign against African refugees. The state of Israel has built a detention camp for refugees that can hold over 10,000 people, as well as established new laws to arrest and detain people of African descent on site, whether or not they have been involved in criminal activity. The orthodox government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has been pushing Israel’s social policy towards the extreme right, promoting hatred and racism against non-Jewish people.

Fears and tensions have grown to extremes for the people and state of Israel. In the past several years, Israel has faced overpopulation, an economic downturn and the threat of conflict from bordering nations. The state has been stockpiling weapons and preparing for war. For the sake of preserving Israel as a Jewish state, the government and people are looking for threats in many of the wrong places.

Currently, there are roughly 60,000 refugees from Sudan and Eritrea finding asylum within Israel, fleeing mass genocide and poverty. A majority of these refugees entered Israel illegally. To them, Israel is a haven, a place to start fresh and find new opportunities. Many work for decreased pay, and are simply trying to find their place within society.

However, the Israelis see these refugees as infiltrators, as the enemy, who are working to bring the state of Israel down. The government has participated in scapegoating and blame, promoting ultra-nationalistic ideals and racism towards African asylum-seekers.

Anti-African protests have been held by Israeli civilians, and thousands have attended. Racist activity has been exploding in the country, as a majority of Israel’s people want the expulsion of all Africans. The small minority of Israelis who are standing up for African people are met with criticism and violence.

Options are running thin as the hatred and scapegoating increases. African people, not just refugees, are subject to harassment and violence in the streets. Israelis have held several riots in African neighbourhoods, leaving many innocent people injured. Lies and exaggerations are being spread throughout Israel about refugees and their intentions — government officials have stated that African people are rapists and thieves — which is increasing the fear and uncertainty within the country.

The state has denied the ability for refugees to work legally, landlords have refused renting to African migrants and new laws stipulate that African people can be arrested and incarcerated for up to three years without trial and are held at the Saharonim Detention Facility, one of the largest prisons in the modern world.

At this time, there have been no known acts of terrorism, violence or crime committed by African migrants within Israel.

The irony in this situation is not only the persecution of people by a group that has experienced so much persecution, but also the fact that the people and government of Israel feel their actions are justified. Israel’s increasingly fascist agenda and actions speak to the hypocrisy, indifference and hatred that is so difficult to eradicate in this world. Israel was established as a haven for the oppressed, the accused and the discriminated, and in turn, the people of Israel have become oppressors, accusers and discriminators.

What is also frightening is the lack of media attention in this situation. Only smaller media outlets and rogue journalists have been following the racist uprising in Israel, using hidden cameras to document the rallies, riots and violent behaviour against African migrants. This uprising is a supreme example of human injustice that needs more attention in the eyes of the world.