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Netanyahu exploiting south Tel Aviv's hardships to attack asylum seekers

Netanyahu has asylum seekers right where he wants them. He can exploit the hardships of south Tel Aviv residents to continue inciting against the Supreme Court, the media, and human rights organizations.

By Yossi Dahan

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with residents of South Tel Aviv, during a tour in the neighborhood, August 31, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with residents of South Tel Aviv, during a tour in the neighborhood, August 31, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

After years in which Netanyahu did not set foot in south Tel Aviv, the prime minister came to the area last week for two visits. The first visit was highly publicized, and the second — with Interior Minister Aryeh Deri — was undercover. For Netanyahu, the timing of the visits was perfect: a week after Israel’s High Court ruled that asylum seekers cannot be deported to third countries without their consent, and that consent to do so cannot come from someone who has been jailed indeterminately.

For Netanyahu and his ministers, the ruling was another golden opportunity to paint the Supreme Court justices as disconnected elites who prefer the welfare of “the infiltrators” at the expense of south Tel Aviv’s residents. The prime minister promised the veteran residents he met that he, as opposed to court, will see to the deportation of the infiltrators and “return the neighborhood to the residents of south Tel Aviv.”

Netanyahu’s use of words like “infiltrators” to describe asylum seekers is not coincidental — they are intended to mark them as criminals who crossed the border in order to improve their economic status. And yet he knows these terms are deceitful. Had they been infiltrators or illegal migrant workers, there would be no legal problem with putting them on planes and returning them to their home countries. Israel does not do so because it recognizes them as asylum seekers — a legal term signifying the fact that they left their countries, came to a different one, and declared that their life would in danger should they be sent back.

Out of 40,000 asylum seekers currently in Israel, the vast majority come from Sudan and Eritrea — murderous dictatorships that commit grave human rights violations. Thus the State of Israel, despite jailing and abusing asylum seekers, undertakes a policy of “delayed deportation,” in accordance with the United Nations’ 1951 Refugee Convention, to which Israel is a signatory. According to the treaty, refugees cannot be sent back to a place in which their life or liberty will be in danger. Netanyahu, skilled in the art of incitement and setting different oppressed communities against one another to further his political goals, has no interest in reality or truth.

African asylum seekers attend a memorial ceremony to commemorate 14 years since the genocide in Darfur, Levinsky Park, south Tel Aviv, Thursday, April 27 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

African asylum seekers attend a memorial ceremony to commemorate 14 years since the genocide in Darfur, Levinsky Park, south Tel Aviv, Thursday, April 27 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

His sudden concern for the residents of south Tel Aviv stands in stark contrast to his economic and social policies over many years, which primarily affects many of the residents of the area who belong to the bottom rungs of the socio-economic ladder. If their welfare is so important, what stopped Netanyahu from adopting the recommendation of the Supreme Court from years ago to disperse asylum seekers across different parts of the country.

And why did Netanyahu not accept the proposal by human rights organizations to grant work permits to asylum seekers, thereby encouraging them to move across the country, rather than enlisting tens of thousands of new migrant workers. According to the 2013 State Comptroller Report, Israel’s policies in south Tel Aviv have for years been defined by total neglect and irresponsibility toward the needs of its residents.

We can learn about Netanyahu’s real attitude toward the veteran residents of south Tel Aviv from a different policy of expulsion, one taking place as we speak with the full support of his government: the brutal expulsion of south Tel Aviv and Jaffa residents from their homes by real estate tycoons. Netanyahu has asylum seekers right where he wants them. He can exploit the hardships of the residents of south Tel Aviv — for which he is primarily responsible — in order to continue inciting against the Supreme Court, the media, and human rights organizations.

Yossi Dahan is a law professor, the head of the Human Rights Division at the College of Law and Business and the co-founder of Haokets. This article was first published in Hebrew in on Haokets. Read it here.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Natanyahu is a joke! i can’t understand why he still leads.
      i just saw news today that his take ilegally meals in hundrends of thousands …
      lol Natanyahu family.

      Reply to Comment
      • Lewis from Afula

        Bibi is very popular in Israel.
        We are against appeasing Islam and setting up multicultural free movement of people. Israel is a country NOT an economic zone.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          Well, he’s “popular” enough to cling to power by hook and by crook, by any cynical means possible, though the prosecutorial noose is progressively tightening. What Yossi Dahan does is explain the mechanics of this populist con job, which populist con job Netanyahu has been evidently ramping up in distracting, manipulative intensity as that legal noose tightens. Netanyahu has no shame. Zero.:

          “His sudden concern for the residents of south Tel Aviv stands in stark contrast to his economic and social policies over many years, which primarily affects many of the residents of the area who belong to the bottom rungs of the socio-economic ladder. If their welfare is so important, what stopped Netanyahu from adopting the recommendation of the Supreme Court from years ago to disperse asylum seekers across different parts of the country.”

          Israel is in violation of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951 and 1967) of which it is a contracting party. Its heartless treatment of these refugees is based in its society’s ingrained racism and anti-Gentilism in toxic combination. Which Netanyahu is only too happy to manipulate. See the article above and a hundred or more +972 Magazine articles in the past few years.

          Reply to Comment
    2. Hashmal

      These illegal migrants will be deported sooner or later. The Israeli government, with the overwhelming support of the Israeli people, will take absolutely no steps to facilitate the integration of these migrants into the Israeli economy or society.

      The fact that they can not be deported back to their own countries has absolutely nothing to do with the claim that they came to Israel for shelter. They came to Israel for better economic opportunities. That they can’t be deported back to their home countries is neither here nor there and it doesn’t qualify them for any permanent status. They will not be allowed to stay and none of your obnoxious left-wing bleating will change that.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        “with the overwhelming support of the Israeli people”

        It does not reflect well on them.

        Your argument that these Sudanese and Eritrean persons are not refugees is internally incoherent and contradictory and both ignores and tacitly admits the truth of the argument made by Yossi.

        Reply to Comment
        • Hashmal

          Yossi’s argument makes no sense. The inability to deport someone to their own country doesn’t turn that person into a refugee.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Anything but admit the mundane truth and step up to the plate and be unselfish. Tell me, when did the Jewish people* become so ungenerous and so hypocritical about the command to be kind to the stranger? Was it always thus in your opinion?

            *After all, you tell us this has the support of the overwhelming majority of you and you guys are always telling us that the real Jews or the future’s Jews are in Israel, the “nation state of the Jewish people,” and Jews elsewhere are assimilated and dying out or don’t really count.

            Reply to Comment