Dozens of Tel Aviv municipal officers, border policemen and private movers raided several businesses run by African asylum seekers around Tel Aviv's central bus station, confiscating goods and welding the doors shut. Officials also poured bleach into food in a Darfur refugee's restaurant. Is city hall preparing for the upcoming municipal elections? A group of municipal officials led an operation to close African asylum seekers' illegal businesses in the south Tel Aviv neighborhoods of Neve Sha'anan and Shapira at around 7 p.m. Sunday night. The municipal officers were accompanied by Border Police officers, a photographer and several large moving trucks…Read More... | 21 Comments
south tel aviv
Despite a demonstration led by MK Michael Ben-Ari calling for mass deportations, and alongside a heavy police presence, south Tel Aviv's immigrants celebrated the new year. As 2012 came to an end, the situation of the thousands of migrant workers and asylum seekers in Israel remains as uncertain as ever. As a grim reminder of the past year and an omen for what is yet to come, MK Michael Ben-Ari and his extreme-right supporters held another protest calling for the immediate expulsion of all "infiltrators" as a supposed solution to all of South Tel Aviv's problems, leading to the deployment…Read More... | 1 Comment
Haim Mula, a resident of the Shapira neighborhood in south Tel Aviv who was arrested last April in connection with the nighttime arson attack of several African asylum seeker homes and one kindergarten in his neighborhood, has signed a plea bargain that exempts him from jail time. Mula, 20, was originally accused of committing the attacks himself, admitted only to having prepared the firebombs for the actual arsonist, an offense for which he is expected to receive only a few months of community service and no jail time. It will be up to the court whether to approve this fairly…Read More... | 5 Comments
Although the recent incident on Israel's southern border involving Eritrean asylum seekers received international attention, structural violence against African refugees has been going on for over five years now. It is important to remember that those who make it in face enormous difficulties due to state policies. Earlier this month, 21 Eritrean asylum seekers, including a 14-year-old child and two women, spent over a week trapped between fences on the Israeli side of the Israeli-Egyptian border. As the temperatures soared, the group was not provided with any shelter; the "most moral army in the world" gave the refugees only small…Read More... | 1 Comment
Angie Robles, a 52-year-old migrant worker from the Philippines, recently caught her 15-year-old grandson M. smoking. While it seems like a normal act of teenage rebellion—and a small one at that—Robles says it was a sign that her grandson has lost all hope. When Robles confronted M. about his smoking, she explained to him that she felt it was a step down the wrong path. His answer, according to Robles: “What future will I have with this situation, with the deportation?” Robles left Laguna, a province next to Manila, in 1987 for Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Her sister…Read More... | 1 Comment
The apartment of an Eritrean couple in Jerusalem went up in flames last night, in what looks like another arson attack. Haaretz reports that at around 3 a.m., the man and the woman, who is seven months pregnant, awoke and tried to stamp out the fire with their feet. There are times when events are so horrible, it's hard to find any words and easy to feel paralyzed with misery. *** The Hebrew Haaretz story adds that the 32-year old man suffered second-degree burns over 20 percent of his body. And because of the woman's advanced pregnancy, both will be…Read More... | 6 Comments
A firecracker was hurled into an Eritrean bar in south Tel Aviv late Saturday night, the latest incident in mounting violence against the African asylum seeker community in Israel. On Eritrean customer was injured in Saturday night's incident. The bar, located in the Hatikva neighborhood of Tel Aviv, has been the target of several attacks in recent months, most notoriously on May 23, when a demonstration against the growing African population in Israel turned violent. The bar was one of several refugee-owned properties that were damaged, its windows smashed and contents looted. Read more on that night's events here. Sigal…Read More... | 5 Comments
Sudanese refugee Abraham Alu saw his parents killed by militiamen when he was just seven years old. He discusses life in Israel and how he ended up here. The latest installment of the South Tel Aviv Stories. Abraham Alu, a 35-year-old refugee from what is now South Sudan, was on his way to the store last Wednesday night when an anti-African protest in south Tel Aviv turned violent. Jewish Israelis chased and beat African asylum seekers, broke the windows of a car full of African men, and smashed storefronts of African-owned stores in south Tel Aviv. Alu, who was headed…Read More... | 8 Comments
An unexpected bright spot in south Tel Aviv yesterday, less than a week after the race riots: Israelis celebrated Shavuot with the children of African asylum seekers in Levinsky Park, the public space next to the Central Bus Station that has become a hub for the migrant community. As I have done countless times over the past four years that I have been covering and researching migrant workers and African asylum seekers in Israel, I spent most of yesterday hanging out in south Tel Aviv, conducting man-on-the-street interviews. After last week's race riots, the mood in the area is dark,…Read More... | 9 Comments
Two days ago, my girlfriend and I were attacked by a mob of proud Jews in south Tel Aviv. Still trying to understand why. I went to a demonstration led by MK Michael Ben-Ari two days ago (Tuesday), and was joined by my girlfriend, Galina. Ben-Ari, a Kahanist, was inciting the crowd against the African refugees in a distinctly anti-Semitic manner, peppering his talk with incessant references to excrement and urine. At some point, Galina couldn’t take it any longer, and shouted something back. Within minutes we were surrounded by an angry mob of about 20 people, composed mostly of…Read More... | 41 Comments
The rioting last night in south Tel Aviv against African migrants – some of them asylum seekers – was another one of those moments that paralyzed me with a mixture of disbelief, horror and sorrow. The photos of smashed windows were reflexively associated in many Jewish minds with Kristallnacht, as many people on social networks pointed out. One photo of Likud MK Danny Danon standing on a platform exhorting the masses to expel the strangers in their midst was reflexively associated in my mind with Benjamin Netanyahu "on the balcony" circa 1994 or 1995. In those notorious demonstrations, Netanyahu famously…Read More... | 16 Comments
What's going on between Israelis (including Israeli Arabs) and African refugees, and the prospects for more vigilante violence. Here's my suggestion for preventing more vigilante riots like last night's in South Tel Aviv's Hatikva Quarter. One, put lots and lots of older, cooler-headed cops and soldiers on the southside, and in Eilat, Arad and every other place where there are large concentrations of African refugees. The main purpose is to deter further attacks on them, the other is to cool the locals' grotesquely inflated - though not entirely imagined - fear of getting murdered, raped or mugged by them. Two, the refugee population in south Tel Aviv and Eilat has to be drastically thinned out and relocated throughout the country, to…Read More... | 58 Comments
With at least 60,000 now in the country and 2,000 to 3,000 more coming every month, African refugees, for all the trauma they have been through, are unassimilable in this country. The first in a three-part series. On Friday, with the headlines screaming of Eritreans raping a 15-year-old Israeli girl, I went with a photographer friend to the Hatikva neighborhood in South Tel Aviv to get a sense of how the Jewish residents were feeling toward the Africans, and vice versa. I was surprised to see no hatred on the faces of the Israelis nor fear on the faces of the Africans. Everyone looked calm, doing their Friday afternoon…Read More... | 44 Comments
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