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80 refugees are rounded up as Israel’s Interior Minister declares, ‘this country belongs to the white man’

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Asylum seekers detained in Israel’s Saharonim prison. (Photo: Eliyahu Hershkovitz)

In a wave of door-to-door police searches over the weekend, the Israeli government cemented anti-migrant sentiment into a mass deportation program by rounding up  80 refugees. The arrests come days after a Jerusalem court legalized transferring all of Israel’s 1,500 South-Sudanese migrants back to their home country.

The roundup is part of a larger policy to deport all of Israel’s asylum seekers, drafted by Interior Minister Eli Yishai who said earlier this month that Israel is for “the white man.” Speaking to Maariv on June 3, 2012 the minister said: “Muslims that arrive here do not even believe this country belongs to us, to the white man,” continuing that he is prepared to use “all the tools to expel the foreigners, until not one infiltrator remains.” The program was also endorsed by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu

“They are going from house to house and rounding up people. They tell us: ‘Get your things and go,” said community organizer Michael Bazia to YNet News. Continuing, “the [people] are willing to go home, but not in this manner. We are tired of this. We’ve only had independence for 10 months. You can’t build a state in 10 months.”

deportation form
deportation form (Photo: Ilana Curiel/YNet News)

Authorities are also pressuring immigrants to “voluntarily” leave Israel by offering subsidized departure flights and immunity from jail time. Under the recently revised illegal entry laws, asylum seekers can face up to three years in prison, and if Israelis are caught assisting refugees they can be sentenced for 5 years and fined over $1 million. “Whoever wants to leave voluntarily can receive a grant and some time to sort their affairs in Israel; this is much more respectful; each person should decide according to their own considerations,” said an immigration agent to YNet.

With the looming threat of prison, six of the arrested families signed departure statements and YNet also reported dozens of African migrants in hiding have accepted the strong-arm deal. Arrested refugee families who did not accept the offer were split apart, with men incarcerated in a separate facility from women and children.

Anti-migrant politicians are hopeful to expand Thursday’s deportation greenlight by legalizing the transfer for all of Israel’s 60,000 refugees, not just the South-Sudanese. Currently only Eritrean and North Sudanese immigrants receive temporary stays, but Yishai, the designer of the mass deportation policy, has assembled a task force to erode those protections. In an interview with YNet on Sunday, the minister spoke about his “Yishai plan” and aspirations to eject Eritreans, despite their asylum status:

‘As for the Eritrean citizens, I haven’t given up yet,’  [Yishai] said Sunday in an interview with Ynet. ‘I met with the Eritrean ambassador to Israel who told me of the situation there, and the situation there is good. Security wise, it is no more dangerous than Sderot.’

Yishai went on to scapegoat the United Nations:

‘They have problems in the African countries? Let the UN handle those problems. Let it handle it [the problems] better than it handled the problems in Syria. It is unacceptable that the UN is not solving these problems and we have to pay for it. I’m not the Eritrean welfare minister and not the Sudanese labor minister.’

Ahead of the migrants’ arrests, the Israeli government also has sped up construction on a new detention facility set to warehouse arrested refugees. The prison, Ir Amim, or city of nations, is planned to hold over 10,000 asylum seekers.  Haaretz reported today a construction worker on site said, “We’re building the Sudanese a political asylum.” Haaretzs Gili Cohen then continued, “the inmates will stay in shipping containers turned into mobile homes.”


Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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30 Responses

  1. seafoid on June 12, 2012, 9:11 am

    ‘They have problems in the African countries? Let the UN handle those problems.

    Why was nothing done about the Holocaust?

    “They have problems in the areas under German occupation ? Let the League of Nations handle those problems. “

  2. marc b. on June 12, 2012, 9:18 am

    “the inmates will stay in shipping containers turned into mobile homes.”

    what efficiency! just cut of few air holes in the top, lift the containers onto a flat bed rail, and point the train south on the tracks. et voilà! schwartze problem solved!

    • Woody Tanaka on June 12, 2012, 10:52 am

      No, when you’re engineering a final solution like this, the trains go East.

      • seafoid on June 12, 2012, 12:17 pm

        Cavalry may arrive in the form of economic meltdown

        The message for a small, export-dependent economy like Israel, says Gurría, is unambiguous: “Be prepared for a situation which is going to be complicated, through no fault of your own, but for which Israel is not well prepared. Can Israel determine the price of oil? No. Can Israel determine interest rates in Europe or the United States, or the deficits? No

      • American on June 12, 2012, 1:51 pm

        “The message for a small, export-dependent economy like Israel, says Gurría, is unambiguous: ”

        If the world wanted to get rid of Israel all it would have to do is an oil embargo on it and boycott it’s exports. ..iow, sanctions….it would collapse..unlike Iran it doesn’t have any countries dependent on it oil or on any of it’s products…it has nothing economically essential to others.
        Being a non essential country and a regional and world trouble maker is not a good long term survival plan.

  3. Woody Tanaka on June 12, 2012, 9:39 am

    israelis being bigoted. Why am I not surprised?

    • seafoid on June 12, 2012, 10:51 am

      Woody- 20% of Israelis are Palestinian. Perhaps you should say “Israeli Jews”..

      • Woody Tanaka on June 12, 2012, 10:56 am

        Good point, seafoid. I stand corrected.

  4. BradAllen on June 12, 2012, 11:41 am

    Maybe i shouldn’t be surprised, or maybe i should. After all, who created South Sudan ?
    I am sure everyone remembers the involvement the Mossad had in creating South Sudan and propping up their puppet cowboy with millions in bribes. I wonder since now the job is done (splitting sudan into two countries) , they figure we no longer need to be nice to these people. Just another casualty of the Zionist dream.

    • homingpigeon on June 13, 2012, 5:44 am

      Glad you brought this up. I spent most of 2011 in South Sudan. Many of the Christians there are into Zionism. Israeli flags are common. I had a general tell me of his admiration for Sharon. I met some who received military training in Israel. (Though to be fair, everyone got in on the act – South Sudanese got military training in the US, the Soviet Union, Cuba, Ethiopia, etc. It’s an evil world, and governments can be so generous when training foreigners to kill other foreigners).

      Anyway, back to Israel. There really is something in the psychology of the Zionist that wants to be hated. Here is their strongest ally in Africa, their greatest admirer, and the Israelis are treating the South Sudanese guest workers like rubbish.

      • Xpat on June 13, 2012, 6:45 am

        Homingpigeon – I hope you will post more about your time in South Sudan. You have unique experience.
        Is it the case that the Sudanese refugees in Israel are from South Sudan? And were they drawn to Israel through their Christian faith/Christian Zionism? Political indoctrination?

      • Rizla on June 13, 2012, 7:47 am

        Ditto what Elliot said. More por favor.

      • homingpigeon on June 13, 2012, 9:21 am

        I honestly wouldn’t know the precise statistics as to how many of the Sudanese refugees in Israel would be from which part of Sudan. Bear in mind that it is only in recent months that the Sudans are consolidating such things as passports and residence, partition being such a sloppy affair. Any Sudani who had a passport or ID issued from before the separation of the South would have Sudanese documents and thus be referred to as from “Sudan” in the statistics. Further, there are many South Sudanese whose parents migrated to the North over the years who are now being forced to decide which country they belong to. These also would have the Khartoum papers, (if any), and be listed as from Sudan, though by heritage they might belong to one of the southern ethnic groups. Yishai referred to “Muslims” among the refugees but one would need to see lists of names to sort them out. I would assume Muslims would be less likely to go to Israel for work. As for Zionism being a “draw” – I would say there would be a combination of firstly the information and travel money sent from the first arrivals back to their friends and relatives, then perhaps an affinity for a common enemy of the Arabs, and yes there is a naive sort of Zionism among many African Christians. “They are the chosen people of our Lord.”

        African Christians are subject to every sort of American religious hucksterism and TV evangelism, – prosperity gospel (give to the church and you will become rich), charismatic practices, and Christian Zionism. Then it is often transformed into syncretic African versions.

        For a touching look at Christian African Zionism watch the movie “James’ Journey to Jerusalem.” It’s a sad comedy.

  5. radii on June 12, 2012, 11:48 am

    Americans have been slowly slowly getting a clue about israel’s nefarious nature and racist/apartheid practices for some time now – and this open hostility and racism towards black-skinned people resonates deeply in our culture due to our history of slavery of Africans and their descendants. Most white Americans are appalled that this still goes on, and news of this will be yet one more weight on the scales tipping US opinion against zionism and israel – this is very big weight on the scale against israel

  6. Les on June 12, 2012, 11:53 am

    Keep in mind that American settlers to Israel referred to the natives as “Schwarze Jews.” Of course they looked no different than the native Palestinians who have always been fair game for racists, not just in Israel, but in the US media as well.

  7. talknic on June 12, 2012, 12:29 pm

    The shining light keeps dimming itself

  8. seafoid on June 12, 2012, 12:39 pm

    Very interesting

    • The moral codes of progressives in the west are built, Haidt says, on just three foundations: the pursuit of care rather than harm, of liberty rather than oppression, and of fairness rather than cheating.

    • Conservative politicians, by contrast, have “a broader variety of ways to connect with voters”, as their moral narrative is built on these foundations plus three more: loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion and sanctity/degradation. “Most Americans”, he tells us, “don’t want to live in a nation based primarily on caring.”

    And Zionists ?

    the pursuit of
    care rather than harm (over the green line for non Jews) ,
    of liberty for Jews but oppression for Palestinians
    and of cheating but only for Jews
    as well as
    and sanctity/degradation

    everyone hates us
    and cruelty works and
    so does militarism
    plus they are all antisemites
    and i don’t want to hear otherwise

  9. LanceThruster on June 12, 2012, 12:54 pm

    Jack Crabb: Do you hate them? Do you hate the White man now?

    Old Lodge Skins: Do you see this fine thing? Do you admire the humanity of it? Because the human beings, my son, they believe everything is alive. Not only man and animals. But also water, earth, stone. And also the things from them… like that hair. The man from whom this hair came, he’s bald on the other side, because I now own his scalp! That is the way things are. But the white man, they believe EVERYTHING is dead. Stone, earth, animals. And people! Even their own people! If things keep trying to live, white man will rub them out. That is the difference.

  10. Kathleen on June 12, 2012, 1:16 pm

    Professor Juan Cole has one up about this issue
    Planned Israeli Detention Camps for Africans Draw Human Rights Protests
    “Another is that a lot of Israelis have more problems with African immigrants than with European or Asian ones.”

  11. Avi_G. on June 12, 2012, 4:51 pm

    ‘They have problems in the African countries? Let the UN handle those problems.

    Yishai added:

    “Meanwhile, we will continue to arm brutal dictators and various groups in Africa, regardless of the negative impact our actions may have on the local population.

    I mean, when we give someone like Idi Amin weapons and provide his forces with training we expect our investment to remain in Africa, not to follow us to Israel.

    Similarly, when we arm Christians in South Sudan, we expect Moslems to remain there, where they belong.”

  12. seafoid on June 12, 2012, 5:21 pm

    “Violence and hatred are the attributes of a sick society ”

    I wonder if there will be any Palestinians on the Israeli olympic team

  13. Denis on June 13, 2012, 2:35 am

    White man’s country?

    Man, wouldn’t this blacks-need-not-apply policy just really piss off Sammy Davis, Jr.?

    Which raises a question: what about the 200,000 African-American Jews . . . do they get in on the Law of Return, or is LOR mostly reserved for cossacks, Abe Foxman’s friends, and white AIPAC members? Ashkenazi, IOW.

    And then there is the African diaspora and Ethiopian Jews or Beta Israel, who have been deemed descendants of ancient Israelites. LOR? Or are they getting the Yishai boot, too?

    Israel is really beginning to show its true color.

  14. Fredblogs on June 13, 2012, 2:31 pm

    The “white man” stuff is disturbing, but the policy is fine. They let the refugees in and gave them a safe place to live when they were under threat of genocide in their home country, then when the threat is over, they send them back. What’s the problem with that?

    • Citizen on June 13, 2012, 3:18 pm

      @ Fredblogs

      “They let the Jewish refugees in even though it was hard on the natives, and gave them a safe place to live when they were under threat of genocide in their home countries, and way too long afterward, and now, when the threat is over, they should send them back to Europe, thus giving the native Palestinians their home back. After all the natives were never consulted in the first place.”

      • Fredblogs on June 13, 2012, 6:30 pm

        LOL. I knew someone would try to pull that one. Most of the Israelis were born in Israel. Also, it’s their country. The “natives” were given the option of remaining in a country (original U.N. borders) with a slight Jewish majority, with another country (the original borders of the proposed Arab state) with a majority Arab population right next door. They rejected that offer.

      • Woody Tanaka on June 14, 2012, 6:15 am

        “LOL. I knew someone would try to pull that one.”

        Because the comparison is clear and only someone self-deluded by the zionist mind-poison wouldn’t see it.

        “given the option”

        Since you seem so keen on the UN giving away other people’s land, then the simple solution is the “1948 plan” — carve out a large swath of “Israel” and give it to the migrants, just like happened when the UN stole Palestine on behalf of Jews. Give the Jews the choice of living under a government controlled by the migrants. No problem.

        But the supposed “choice” in 1948 was offered by people who had no right to do so, so it is wholly and completely illegitimate anyway, as are their offspring today. Because, no, none of this land is the Jews’ country. The country is all Palestine and belongs to the Palestinians. If most of the Jews there were born in the zionist entity, that only confirms the fact that they were permitted “too long afterward.”

      • talknic on June 14, 2012, 8:50 am

        Fredblogs June 13, 2012 at 6:30 pm

        “Most of the Israelis were born in Israel. “

        If Israel has no borders with Palestine, how do you know? 1/3rd of the territory Israel claims as its own has never been legally annexed to Israel, is not legally recognized as Israeli, was illegally acquired by war.

        “The “natives” were given the option of remaining in a country (original U.N. borders) with a slight Jewish majority”,

        Strange, the natives who chose to flee the violence, (a right) have never been allowed to return. Also a right.

        “with another country (the original borders of the proposed Arab state) with a majority Arab population right next door. They rejected that offer”

        Not obligatory.

        Israel DID take the offer, admitted it did not depend on the Arabs also declaring a state, declared per the offer, was recognized per the offer, admitted to the UN per the offer and has since been dispossessing Palestinians ” outside of the State of Israel” for 64 years in contradiction of the offer and the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel obliging Israel to adhere to the UN Charter which requires all members to adhere to International Law and any conventions it has ratified.

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