When I meet Jack outside the “Holot” desert detention facility in southern Israel, currently home to some 1,900 asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea, the first thing he wanted to tell me is what bothers him about the Israelis that come to visit him and his friends. “Not many people come to visit us at Holot. The few that do come — they help us, and that’s great. But that is not going to change our situation here in Israel. We expect every Israeli to try and affect change through the political system — specifically, the government’s policy toward us, the…Read More... | 16 Comments
African asylum seekers
The Israeli government announced plans to offer asylum seekers a stark choice: self-deport to a third country or face indefinite imprisonment. Residents of south Tel Aviv, where many asylum seekers live, stage a counter-protest. By Oren Ziv/Activestills.org Some 300 Israeli activists staged a protest against the Israeli government’s stated future policy of deporting asylum seekers back to Africa Saturday night in central Tel Aviv’s Habima Square. Around 100 residents of Tel Aviv’s southern neighborhoods, where many asylum seekers live, staged a counter-protest. Click for +972's full coverage of asylum seekers in Israel Refugee activists shouted, "no to deportation," and called…Read More... | 3 Comments
The Ugandan government officially denies claims it has signed an agreement with Israel, whereby it would absorb forcefully deported Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers. The Israeli government has resisted calls to divulge the details of the agreements it had allegedly signed with 'third countries.' Government officials in Uganda deny there is any agreement with Israel on the deportation of asylum seekers into the country, according to the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, citing Ugandan daily New Vision. In the report, published Tuesday, Uganda's Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs James Mugume is quoted as saying: "Neither the minister [of internal affairs] nor…Read More... | 5 Comments
Just one day after 950 asylum seekers drown on their way to Italy, Israel's transportation minister praises the government for preventing migrants from entering the country. Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) sees lessons for Israeli policy in the tragic massacre of 700 asylum seekers who drowned when their vessel capsized on Sunday in the Mediterranean Sea. Posting a photo showing rows of corpses brought to shore by rescue workers, Katz wrote the following caption, which is translated here from Hebrew: "Hundreds of migrants from Africa drowned to death close to Italy in a disaster that horrified all human beings. Europe is…Read More... | 27 Comments
Despite what many commentators would have you think, Israeli elections were not decided by racism among Israel's Mizrahi population. By Leeor Ohayon Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election is largely credited to votes from the Mizrahi periphery, but to credit the Mizrahi periphery alone would be naïve. The Likud party, after all, is an Ashkenazi one at heart, with Ashkenazi supporters. The magnitude of Netanyahu’s win, as a result of his “gevalt campaign,” (a desperation blitz) actually came from the Ashkenazi Right — Jewish Home voters sacrificed their party to save Netanyahu. In a recent article, Larry Derfner condemned “poor” Mizrahi Israelis for…Read More... | 9 Comments
Photos by Yotam Ronen, Anne Paq, Basel Yazouri, Oren Ziv, Faiz Abu Rmeleh, Ahmad al-Bazz, Keren Manor / Activestills.org From asylum seeker struggles to the assault on Gaza, women were on the front lines of some of the major struggles in Israel/Palestine. In honor of International Women’s Day, Activestills brings you the best photos of the women who pushed for justice between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.Read More... | 10 Comments
In an open letter, one of Israel's foremost refugee rights lawyers calls on the deputy attorney general to follow her conscience. By Asaf Weitzen Dear Deputy Attorney General Dina Silber: I am familiar with a bit of your academic work, including two books you authored and speeches that you give from time to time. You have demonstrated a deep commitment to basic rights and an understanding that the any government must be checked if and when it seeks to infringe upon basic rights. What I find incomprehensible is the disparity between those views and your intensive involvement in legislating the amendment…Read More... | 10 Comments
As part of a new online campaign Israelis are giving voice to African asylum seekers who have been silenced, locked up and forgotten. By Avi Blecherman If you’re a Hebrew speaker you’re probably asking yourself how your Facebook feed suddenly filled up with quotes from asylum seekers in the “Holot” detention facility. Well, it’s because a new online campaign called "Voices from Holot" launched Sunday, allowing you to to share any number of quotes collected from interviews with asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan, all of whom are imprisoned in the “Holot" and “Saharonim” prisons. A number of human rights…Read More... | 4 Comments
Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni have one last chance to leave a positive legacy: make sure Israel doesn't continue the administrative detention of African asylum seekers who have committed no crime. There is little doubt that Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni will be the biggest losers of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to fire them from their senior government posts. After the coming elections Lapid will almost certainly find himself in the opposition heading a smaller party, while Livni will most likely find herself in political exile once again. But despite being kicked out the government, Livni and Lapid still…Read More... | 2 Comments
Far-right protest against High Court decision to close Holot detention center greeted by flower-bearing asylum seekers. Around 100 people, including far-right activists and residents of south Tel Aviv, protested Sunday night against asylum seekers and against the High Court decision to close the Holot detention center within 90 days. Some protesters, among them former extremist Knesset member Michael Ben-Ari and radical anti-miscegenation group Lehava's chairman Benzi Gupstein, waved black flags that said "High Court" on them, drawing the comparison between Israel's highest legal body and the Islamic State, or ISIS. Protestors marched to Levinsky Park, where several refugees awaited them with flowers in hand.…Read More... | 26 Comments
Around 1,000 asylum seekers walk out of the Holot open detention facility but are stopped short of the Egyptian border, announce they will no longer seek acceptance by the Israeli government and demand that the United Nations take responsibility for them and resettle them in third countries. Text by Michael Omer-Man Photos by Oren Ziv, Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org Update (Sunday 8:30 p.m.): Police arrested the asylum seekers and loaded them onto buses. For more information and photos, click here. Update (Sunday 7 p.m.): Police told asylum seekers that they have 15 minutes to get onto buses back to…Read More... | 6 Comments
This week: activists in Europe and in Israel's Holot detention center mark International Refugee Day with marches for asylum seekers' rights. Click for +972's full coverage of the asylum seeker struggle in Israel Photo diary: Inside 'Holot' detention center for asylum seekersRead More... | 5 Comments
Mutasim Ali, a Sudanese asylum seeker and one of the leaders of the African refugee protest movement in Israel, was sent to the Holot open detention center in Israel's south around noon on Monday. Like other asylum seekers, Ali receive a summons to Holot during a visit to renew his visa at the Interior Ministry in Tel Aviv several months ago. Ali appealed the decision, under the claim that the imprisonment of all asylum seekers is illegal. After the court rejected his appeal, Ali announced that he will go to Holot and continue his struggle against the Israeli government's policies…Read More...
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The Beaten Path
Travel writer and tour guide Yuval Ben-Ami deconstructs the Holy Land's tourist trail.
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