Right, where do I start, last week I was listening to the news when I heard there were demonstrations in Tel-Aviv against the perceived influx of African migrants into Israel. The protesters marched through migrant neighbourhoods smashing windows of businesses owned by African migrants and randomly beating up African-looking people on the streets. There were placards calling the migrants infiltrators, rapists and murderers, and that they should all be deported. Many government officials also voiced their support for strict measures to be taken to rid Israel of these migrants who they say have made Israeli neighbourhoods unsafe. Most of the immigrant African population in Israel are Sudanese or Ethiopians who have literally walked over the porous Israeli-Egypt border, seeking asylum. The government has structures in place to make it as difficult as possible for these migrants to be granted asylum. Many cannot work legally because they are not given work permits by the State, forcing them into the underground economy where they are exploited and abused by unscrupulous employers.
The definition of racial discrimination by the United Nations is "any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life". While that may sound a bit long and winding, racism is simply the stigmatisation and prejudicial treatment of a particular breed of people. In many countries of the world, prejudice can be between different ethnic groups, different tribes, or different races. Prejudice underlies many of the world's most brutal conflicts and wars.
The rhetoric used by the protesters and their sympathisers in Israel is not just shocking, but alarmingly strange, considering Israel's own history. The State of Israel was created in 1947 as the home of Jews. Over 6million Jews were systematically murdered in the second world war by the regime of Adolf Hitler who blamed all Germany's social and economic problems on Jews. This led to a state-led campaign to deport all Jews from Germany to extermination or death camps where millions perished. The statement of declaration of the State of Israel explicitly states that "The State of Israel will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants, irrespective of religion, race or sex and it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture". But in 2010 a group of influential Rabbis in Israel issued a religious edict instructing all Israelis not to sell or rent their houses to non-Jewish people, claiming that their assimilation into Jewish life will spell catastrophe for the Jewish people. Non-Jews, specifically the African migrants are accused of being filthy thieves and rapists who should be deported back to their countries. Some of them even quoted the Bible Book of Deuteronomy 7:2-6 which calls on all Jews to abstain from non-Jews, and instead "destroy them and show no mercy on them".
"When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth"
The Rabbis justified their ideology about non-Jews as ordained by God. But, of all people in the world, Jews in my opinion, should not even be associated with racial prejudice because they had first hand experience of the horrors of such ideology during the Second World War. So why does racial prejudice against non-Jews have such a strong public support in Israel? That baffles me. The protest in Tel Aviv last week has been met with condemnation around the world.
I also saw a documentary that examined racist views among some Israelis, many of their arguments revolved around a view that African migrants constitute a national threat to the State of Israel. They are blamed for many of the crimes that occur in Tel Aviv and are accused of being infested with disease. One lady spoke to the camera and said the migrants will pollute Jewish life if allowed to reman in the country. She said "they are not Jews, what are they doing here?" Please see the documentary here