Israel has long history of racial discrimination’
African migrants have been the target of violent attacks by Israeli protesters in the past few weeks, while new legislation allows for the detention of migrants without charge.
On June 3, Tel Aviv announced that migrants who illegally crossed into Israel could face a detention of up to three years. According to the Israeli interior ministry statistics, about 60,000 African immigrants, mainly from Sudan, South Sudan and Eritrea, have entered Israel illegally.
Press TV has conducted an interview with Abayomi Azikiwe, director of Pan-African News Wire, to further discuss the issue. The following is a rough transcription of the interview.
Press TV: The racial discrimination of the Israelis is not only against Palestinians and Arabs but seems to reach farther out to immigrants from Africa. Aren’t these policies reminiscent of apartheid South Africa?
Azikiwe: Most definitely, and of course Israel has a long history of racial discrimination. The Palestinian people, of course, have been disenfranchised, subject to false removals ever since the foundation of the state of Israel almost 65 years ago.
Just recently, an Israeli court has paved the way for the deportation of hundreds of Africans mainly people from the South of Sudan, a newly independent country, which even though it has gained its national independence is still undergoing a lot of internal turmoil.
Of course, this is reflective of the anti-African sentiment and propaganda that has been voiced very, very brutally in the Israeli government officials through the mass media, all the way up to the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Even on June 4th, four people were taken to a hospital in Jerusalem. They were suffering from burns and from smoke inhalation because of a multi-residence dwelling, a two-story building in the Mahane Yehuda market district in Jerusalem was pipe-bombed at three o’clock in the morning. It was reported that some 18 people had been living in this building.
Of course this follows the anti-African alliance that took place on May 23 in the south Tel Aviv neighborhood. It was estimated that a thousand people went on a rampage inside the neighborhood beating up Sudanese, Eritreans, and also looting shops that were owned by African migrants.
The parliament member of the Likud Party, Miri Regev, told a crowd back on May 23 that “referring to Africans as the infiltrators are a cancer in our body; the infiltrators must be expelled from Israel; expulsion now.”
This is, as you said before, very similar to what has been done to the Arab population in the state of Israel for over six decades.
Press TV: With regards to the Israeli regime’s policies against immigrants, are you surprised that there hasn’t been any reaction from the international community?
Azikiwe: Yes. We think that it is definitely something that warrants the attention of the international community. It tends to be overshadowed by other issues that are going on in relationship to Israeli domestic as well as foreign policy.
In regard to the internal affairs of Israel itself, even among large segments of the settler population there has been large unemployment, problems associated with housing and also other social services inside the state of Israel itself.
We’ve seen over the last year demonstrations on the part of the settler communities because obviously what has been promised to them by the Zionist …[regime] under the current economic constraints are no longer deliverable. This has somehow overshadowed the plight of the African migrants.
Also, Israel’s hostile position towards its neighbors, its constant threats against the Islamic Republic of Iran as well as other states in the region tends to get more play within the corporate and the Western media than what has been happening over the last several weeks in regards to immigrants in the African continent.
Many of these people have crossed over into Israel in the aftermath of the regime change that took place in Egypt last year. Many of them have been residents of Egypt. Many of them, as I mentioned before, also were from South Sudan as well as Eritrea which has undergone a lot of internal instability in the last year and a half, so.
Also, I want to mention that there are plans underway to construct a 167 million dollar fence on the border with Sinai in Egypt to keep out African migrants.
Received on Tue Jun 12 2012 - 10:46:42 EDT