June 18, 2012 · 0 Comments
Above: Tel Aviv Pogrom - Night of attacks against African refugees, Tel Aviv, Israel, 23.05.2012. The mob setting garbage on fire and singing “The people want the Africans to be burned” after a protest against African refugees and asylum seekers in Tel Aviv’s Hatikva neighborhood on May 23, 2012.
By Michael McGehee:
On page A4 of today’s New York Times is an article by the Israeli journalist Isabel Kershner titled “Crackdown on Migrants Tugs at Souls of Israelis.”
Kershner tells the story of tens of thousands of African migrants who have sought refuge in Israel over the last decade, only to be deported.
But because Israel is “in line with international conventions,” most of the refugees have been permitted to stay. That is until an Israeli court recently ruled that it is now safe enough for Sudanese refugees to be rounded up, loaded on buses and sent back to their native country.
One Israeli is reported as saying, “It must be done,” otherwise, “tomorrow we will have no country and we will have to look for another one.”
Kershner even goes on to write that,
But the government clampdown is also ripping at Israel’s soul. For some, the connotations of roundups and the prospect of mass detentions cut too close to the bone.
Then there are the ”harrowing tales of cruelty by Bedouin smugglers in Sinai,” and the “risk of being shot by Egyptian officers,” but for Israeli “soldiers who picked them up,” Kershner reports that the refugees were told by the Israeli soldiers that “they were safe and welcomed them to Israel.”
There is no mention of the disturbing racism against African migrants in Israel. Kershner simply notes there are “rising tensions.”
Two weeks ago today Al-Akhbar published an article on “African home torched in Israeli racist attack.”
Two days later the American media website Black Agenda Report published a piece on the “race riots in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem” titled “Black Migrants in White Israel.”
But it’s not just Kershner’s silence on anti-African sentiment sweeping across Israel that is troubling. Apparently Palestinians and what they have endured at the hands of Israelis for nearly a century is not “all the news fit to print.” Not once is Palestine or Palestinians even mentioned. The closest Kershner comes is the comment that, “Critics say that Israel, a nation largely founded by refugees, lacks a proper immigration policy.”
At best, it can only be explained as bizarre that a piece about the need to stop immigration for fear that “tomorrow [Jews] will have no country and we will have to look for another one,” and how such a “crackdown” is ”ripping at Israe’s soul” and cutting “too close to the bone,” cannot mention a people which this is being done to . . . by Israel and on the same land.
Impregnated in Kershner’s comment that Israel is “a nation largely founded by refugees” is such an admission, but nothing more is said.
Kershner writes about the conditions of the people in Sudan, but not Gaza. Though, if she wanted she could have referred to the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs occupied Palestinian territory, which, just this month, released a two-page fact sheet titled “Five Years of Blockade: The Humanitarian Situation in the Gaza Strip.”
Kershner also writes about how African migrants were “put on buses and dropped off at Levinsky Park or other locations, ending up in a kind of limbo,” but there is no mention of what Palestinians endure in ”Israel’s Guantanamo“—an Israeli Defense Force torture center known as Camp 1391. In fact, a quick look reveals that—like Kershner’s treatment of Palestinians in her article—the New York Times has never even mentioned this notorious facility.
And Kershner’s comment about Israel being “in line with international conventions” is also callous. Nearly everything about Israel’s policies towards unmentionable Palestine and the unnameable Palestinian people is in violation of international law. The occupation, the illegal settlements, the political prisoners, the torture, the assassinations, the frequent air attacks, the settler attacks, and more, are daily realities for the Palestinians.
It’s as if the Palestinian people don’t exist. They are insignificant ants who have no effect on the “Soul of Israelis.” That is, according to Isabel Kershner and the New York Times.