Israel’s interior minister Eli Yishai, in a recent interview outlining the Israeli government’s view of African migrants, said Israel “belongs to the white man”.
There are an estimated 700 South Sudanese refugees in Israel. On Sunday, the Israeli immigration authorities began arresting South Sudanese migrants in preparation for deporting them from the country. According to the Israeli press, eight people have been arrested in Eilat and central Israel so far.
The Israeli government has also resorted to overt racist statements when referring to African refugees. Eli Yishai, the interior minister, said recently that he would use “all the tools to expel the foreigners,”
Until earlier this year, the South Sudanese were given unofficial group protection in Israel, which entitled them to remain in the country and protected them against detention. But the Israeli government argued that since South Sudan achieved independence in July 2011, the refugees could safely return home.
Critics of the move however, argue that many refugees will likely face violence should they return. Certainly Yishai, and also Netanyahu with equally concerning language have made clear in no uncertain terms, exactly how they view Africans. The move by the Israeli government follows scenes of violence in Tel Aviv and elsewhere that erupted following inflammatory speeches by some including Israeli cabinet members recently. Some of the violence saw property and residences belonging to Africans being vandalised and on Monday some of the refugees were taken to Juba South Sudan. More flights are scheduled for next Monday.
Given that there is somewhere in the region of 60,000 African migrants living in Israel, one could be forgiven for thinking that by targeting a relatively small group of refugees, is political point scoring. The Israeli government cannot deport the remaining migrants who are largely from Sudan and Eritrea due to its international obligations, but recent events must have had the effect of terrorising African communities living in Israel. Undoubtedly, as a weapon to accompany government policy, it will prove successful, and the spate of attacks against Africans was aimed at sending out a message. It is hard to imagine why, given these revelations and the wider policy toward the Palestinian people, anyone would argue that the state of Israel is not an apartheid state.
The continual persecution of the Palestinians, politically and ideologically, the military court system, and now the emerging negative view of non-white people should outline clearly what the overriding Israeli government consensus is. The superior race theory is one that we’ve seen in the past, and is the hallmark of theories centered on a perspective viewed through the prism of eugenics. Those theories are dangerous and they need to be relegated to the past-along with Zionism.
Yishai and his ilk are quick to seek to democratically enforce the new rules of Israel’s immigration policy. But I wonder then on that basis, how they feel about the right of the Palestinian refugees to return home to the land that was stolen from them? Are they going to welcome them with open arms because they have the right to return as afforded under international law?
This question, the right of return, cuts to the heart of the so-called conflict between Israel and Palestine, and it is one that is continually and conveniently avoided. The perception of an emerging Israeli ethnic cleansing to ensure that it remains ‘For the white man’ will evidently continue.