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TA councilman calls for separate buses for 'smelly' foreigners

A Tel Aviv city councilman is appealing to the state to allocate separate buses for African refugees and migrant workers, according to an article published on Mynet on Thursday

Last week, Tel Aviv City Councilman Binyamin Babayoff (Shas) sent a letter to Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, Minister of Transportation Israel Katz, and Dr. Moshe Tiomkin, a Tel Aviv councilman and the head of the city’s Transportation, Traffic and Parking Authority. In an excerpt published by Mynet (local online Hebrew news affiliated with Ynet), Babayoff wrote that “illegal foreign workers fill the buses…” leaving no room for Jewish Israeli residents of South Tel Aviv. He added that “foreign workers… give off a bad smell and they might, God forbid, cause all kinds of diseases.”

Reminding of Jim Crow laws, Babayoff proposes that the state introduce separate buses for migrant workers and refugees or limit their access to buses during peak hours of heavy traffic, thus giving preference to Jewish Israeli residents.

Speaking to Mynet, Babayoff claimed that his proposal was not racist. He said that Jewish Israelis in South Tel Aviv “live a life of hell” because of the foreigners in the neighborhood. He added that his letter was a response to the appeals of “scared” residents.

In a comment to Mynet, the Tel Aviv Municipality condemned Babayoff’s proposal and called it “racist,” adding that it is committed to “caring for immigrant workers and their basic health needs, education, and welfare…”

(Though they’re not migrant workers, homeless African refugees might beg to differ with the city’s statement).

After Babayoff embarked on a campaign against migrant workers and refugees in the summer of 2010—calling on South Tel Aviv landlords not to rent to these “infiltrators” and claiming that doing so violates Jewish religious law—25 area rabbis signed an “Edict Forbidding the Rental of Apartments to Infiltrators.” Shortly thereafter, 10 South Tel Aviv real estate agents signed a petition stating they would not rent to illegal residents.

Later that year, hundreds of Israeli rabbis across the country signed a religious edict forbidding the rental or sale of property to Palestinian citizens of the state.

In 2010, Babayoff also participated in a campaign against opening a new kindergarten in the South Tel Aviv neighborhood of Kiryat Shalom. While the school was planned to accommodate migrant workers’ and refugees’ children, it would also provide education to Jewish Israeli students.

In addition to his issues with non-Jews, Babayoff has also publicly voiced homophobic sentiments, referring to Tel Aviv’s Gay Pride Parade as a “shame parade.”

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    1. Jazzy

      Did you watch what Norman said about the BDS cult? Because the whole Israel=Alabama nonsense is part of it…

      Reply to Comment
    2. aristeides

      Jazzy – I think you need to unpack that one.

      Reply to Comment
    3. David

      Yeah, because in summer-time a bus filled with Haredim Shas voters smells really great. These people really lack self-awareness – they don’t smell their own stink, physical and moral.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Eyal

      This guy should be put down like the dog he is.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Jazzy

      Aristeides: I mean to say that the differences between Israel and the Jim Crow south are so significant and obvious that you’d have to be part of the BDS cult to take the comparison seriously. By the Finkelstein standard – would the general public accept it – the analogy fails. The history and the actual policies are too different. If you believe otherwise I’m afraid to say I think you’re a victim of the kind of ideology-driven delusion that Norman was talking about. Have the last word on this if you want, I don’t have enough time to argue about this in detail.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Marcel

      Fundamentalist thought (political or religious) is naturally exclusionary and thus leads to black and white conclusions, with no room for nuance. No shock then that racist comments find a home there.

      Reply to Comment
    7. aristeides

      Jazzy – you certainly are enamored with Norman these days.

      Finkelstein or no Finkelstein, it’s pretty clear that the general public can see how Israel is a racist society in which public officials feel quite free to make the sort of racist comments that would have shocked even Alabama back in the day. Condemnation doesn’t require comparison.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Helen

      Back in the 1970s/80s we used to have this kind of thing in the UK regarding southern Asians (from India/Pakistan/Bangladesh) who were known universally as ‘Pakis’. That kind of stupid, casual racism still exists to some extent but year by year, it’s going away. Israel is clearly quite primitive as far as multi-culturalism goes…but you’ll come round – you’ll have to…or just become a country that’s unworkable/irrelevent…and even more of a pariah than you currently are.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Steve

      As with all Mya Guarnieri articles, which only exist to make Israel or some Israelis look bad and serve no other purpose, I’m laughing at this article.
      I mean, on the one hand, OF COURSE it’s wrong to say stuff like “smelly foreigners” if you are a politician or any normal person and especially a public servant.
      BUT, on the other hand, for the sake of HONESTY, is it actually POSSIBLE that there are some buses in part of Israel that actually ARE filled each day with 5-10 people who are homeless, refugees, do not have regular access to hot showers, and in fact DO unfortunately smell really bad? Is it wrong to say that if we’re just being HONEST? We’ve all passed homeless people, and the SAD REALITY is, some of them cannot shower regularly or have clean clothes, and acutually do smell really bad. And the same probably goes for third world refugees squeezed together in buses. We’ve all been near some people who stink on trains or buses sometimes. So what if a couple Israeli buses actually do have that regular problem? Is honesty a bad thing?
      Anyway, OF COURSE I agree with the basic premise, that no political person should use phrases like “smelly foreigners” as if it’s some sort of title.
      ANd of course I salute Mya Guarnieri for always only writing about things that she thinks will promote dislike of Israel. Fantastic life’s mission, there.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Piotr Berman

      BUT, on the other hand, for the sake of HONESTY, is it possible that on some Comments you find 5-10, sometimes more, comments by very stupid trolls? Perhaps they could be left to comment during off-peak hours, leaving other hours to people who write with some sense? It is a SAD REALITY than not everyone has fully functional brain.

      Steve, perhaps you have some sub-cranial function, so try to read an explanation why you post was idiotic in its own right. The may thesis is that Mya writes “only about things that she thinks will promote dislike of Israel”. However, the story features a certain Babayoff who has a modest elective office and who apparently faces opposition from Mayor, transit authority etc.

      So, apart from Babayoff, some rabbis and 10 landlords, and perhaps Steve, Israel looks OK here.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Steve

      “Israel must allow homeless half-naked third world refugees to pack onto buses with suit and tie-wearing Israeli businessmen, and if anyone complains about it, they’re RACIST!”

      Reply to Comment
    12. directrob

      Could some moderator protect Eyal against himself?

      Reply to Comment
    13. aristeides

      Steve is at least destroying the antisemitic canard of the superintelligent Jew.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Aaron

      I’m sure the foreigners are smellier on average than Israelis, but part of the joy of public transportation is riding next to smelly people. Also, there’s a tradeoff: These foreigners probably don’t talk as loudly on their cell phones or listen to as much loud, crappy music on their IPods as Israelis do. And from the Africans I’ve seen in Naveh Sha’anan, they have much better manners than Israelis when it comes to things like staring at strangers (they don’t) and being considerate of other pedestrians on the sidewalk. So, there’s a trade-off, body odor for manners.
      Speaking of trade-offs, I do take that councilman’s word for it that Jews in these neighborhoods “live a life of hell.” At the very least, they’ve probably seen the value of their apartments plummet. And these are poor people for whom equity in their apartment is most of their wealth. And that’s just for starters.
      I’ve only been reading +972 regularly for maybe a couple months (and occasionally before then), but I’ve never seen a *sympathetic* hearing of the voices of the poor and dispossessed, people who are getting screwed for no fault of their own – I mean, when those poor and dispossessed are Israeli Jews and the cause of their suffering is gentiles.
      Maybe that’s all part of the polemics. There always has to be a good guy and a bad guy, and sometimes even a good guy and an evil villain. (I’m the “racist, fascist troll” here, pleased to meet you.) But this seems to be a bunch of regular people, Africans and Israelis, who are suffering for no offense of their own. Both sides have just claims, and those just claims are irreconcilable. So it’s tragic in the true meaning of the word.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Aaron

      By the way, I’m sure this solution is far from original, but how about large-scale, heavily subsidized housing for the Africans, in Ramat Aviv? That will make the Jews in both south Tel Aviv and Ramat Aviv happy.

      Reply to Comment
    16. aristeides

      Aaron – being old, I remember the blockbusting campaigns in Chicago. Black Chicagoans needed housing and wanted to break out of the ghetto where they were confined. Venal realestate agents went into white neighborhoods peddling fear, that property values would fall because “they” were moving in. Of course this was a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because the white homeowners believed their property values would fall, they desperately sold at a loss, which made property values fall. The realestate agents got rich.

      Now you can say the white homeowners had just interest in their property, which is so. But they also fell victim to their own racism, believing the fearmongers. The black prospective homeowners were also victimized by racism, when they were attacked by the whites. Just because a person may have a just interest, everything that person does in defense of it is not justified. It’s not justified to burn down a home or beat up its residents, just to protect your property values.

      In the US, laws were finally passed to put an end to these racist practices. Israel, otoh, institutionalizes the racism.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Mareli

      Jim Crow may have been an American phenomenon, but no politician in the U.S. today would make such public comments as Babayoff has. He or she would be dead in the water as far as any political future if guilty of calling people “smelly foreigners.”

      Reply to Comment