This month, the Israeli government started issuing deportation notices to African refugees, in its latest attempt to expel primarily Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers. Officially referred to as “infiltrators,” African refugees have experienced demonization, structural racism, and violence in a state that considers them a demographic threat.
Following Knesset’s approval of a bill empowering the government to deport refugees, on January 1, the Israeli government presented African refugees with an ultimatum. Either “leave voluntarily” within sixty days and receive $3,500, or “enforcement actions will be taken,” including indefinite imprisonment. As The Guardian reported, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu described asylum-seekers as infiltrators and criminals: “We are talking about 60,000 illegal infiltrators. We removed around 20,000. Now the mission is to remove the remainder.”
Escaping war and persecution, African refugees have sought shelter in Israel since the early 2000s, typically coming through the Israeli-Egyptian border. In response, Israel has systematically prevented and discouraged them from claiming asylum. Since 2013 alone, 14,000 refugees have left the Zionist state, as a result of government coercion. Since Israel has existed, less than 1% of asylum applications have been granted by the state. This is in stark contrast to the EU’s acceptance rate of 90 percent for Eritrean and 60 percent for Sudanese refugees.
As part of its war against African refugees, Israel has implemented a policy of indefinite detention. Currently, thousands of Africans are concentrated in detention centers across Israel, which Amnesty International describes as “severely deficient due to inadequate food and medical care, poor sanitation and overcrowding.” The Holot Detention Center in the Negev desert is the largest.
For Israel, blackness is dangerous, something that is evidenced by the circumstances facing the country’s 135,000 Ethiopian Jews, who must contend with both poverty and structural racism. To lower birth rates, Israel has mass sterilized Ethiopian Jews without their consent. When Ethiopian Jews have protested their oppression, they have been met with state violence. In 2015, Ethiopian Jews held public demonstrations, with thousands blocking Israel’s busiest highway and activists accusing the state of institutional racism and genocide. As David Sheen reported for Muftah, “Israeli police used tear gas, shock grenades, and foul-smelling, pressurized water to disperse the crowds.”
Anti-African incitement has become standard rhetoric in the Zionist state. In 2012, former interior minister, Eli Yishai, promised he would use all the tools at his disposal to expel foreigners because “Israel belongs to the white man.” Governmental minister Miri Regev compared Africans to cancer, claiming African immigration constitutes a “demographic threat” and “a violation of the personal safety of [Israeli] citizens,” as the Electronic Intifada reported in May 2012. She subsequently apologized to cancer patients for the comparison.
Ant-African attitudes are also reflected in popular opinion among Israeli Jews. According to a report in the Times of Israel in 2012, 52% of Israeli Jews agreed that “Africans are a cancer.” Last week, a poll found that two-thirds of Israelis favor deporting Africans, as reported in the Jerusalem Post. Racist rallies remain common in Tel Aviv.
Given Israel’s system of white ethnocracy, in which non-whites are subordinated and described as infiltrators, criminals, or terrorists, the expulsion of African refugees is yet another violent measure to maintain white demographic supremacy.