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Israeli Labor sells out African refugees, as ‘infiltrators’

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”What has become of you? Are you the Zionist Union or the expelling union? Have you gone mad? In your tactics for wooing votes, you’ve abandoned your fundamental values and ability to tell right from wrong.”

Tamar Zandberg, a lawmaker from the leftist Meretz Party, shouted that at the left-bloc Zionist Union members who yesterday backed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s draconian legislation to forcibly deport the remaining roughly 40,000 African asylum seekers to a third country – Rwanda. 

Zandberg’s party leader Zehava Gal-On, added that the Zionist Union leader, Avi Gabbay, has “forgotten what it means to be human” – playing a bitter pun on the Gabbay’s recent echoing of Netanyahu, where he said that “the left has forgotten what it means to be Jewish.” 

Prime Minister Netanyahu told the cabinet on Sunday that it is time to “increase the pace of deporting African migrants”, as the Jerusalem Post reported, introducing a bill which passed 53-10 on Monday – much thanks to Gabbay’s support of a policy that is contrary to Labor’s former position.  

Jerusalem Post Gil Hoffman yesterday summarized Gabbay’s many shifts rightwards since his being elected chair of Labor this summer:

Gabbay said recently that there would be no need to evacuate settlements in a peace deal, that he would not sit in a coalition with the Joint (Arab) list, that he was not sure if there was a partner on the Palestinian side, that “the Left forgot what it means to be Jewish”, and that “the whole land of Israel is ours, because it was promised to our patriarch Abraham by God”.  

Tamar Zandberg of Meretz, from her Twitter feed.

Indeed, with an opposition like this, who needs Netanyahu? As Meretz leader Gal-On put it, Gabbay was moving so far right, that he could even “outflank Bayit Yehudi [Jewish Home] leader Naftali Bennett”.

Netanyahu’s legislative move comes after a Supreme Court ruling two months ago that limited the state’s practice to coerce refugees to accept being deported to a third country, through indefinite imprisonment. At that point Netanyahu, together with Culture Minister Miri Regev (who has earlier called African refugees “a cancer in our body”), went on a major incitement tour against African refugees in southern Tel Aviv, saying that “We are here on a mission to give back south Tel Aviv to the Israeli residents”. 

Netanyahu was making clear that he will not be deterred by the court ‘limitation’:

“We’ll have to enact new laws that will enable us … to send the illegal infiltrators out of our country”, he said.

As the Times of Israel rightly noted at the time, “expulsion to a third country is largely unprecedented in the Western world. Italy and Australia signed similar agreements with third-party countries — Italy with Libya, and Australia with Malaysia — but both proposals were shot down by local courts. In both cases, courts ruled the bills inconsistent with international law and the 1951 UN convention on refugees — to which Israel is also a party.”  

But the court did, in fact, not rule against Israel’s practice of deportation to a third country – which is now known to be Rwanda. It merely limited the state’s practice of indefinite detention aimed at putting pressure on refugees to agree to be deported. It limited the imprisonment period to 60 days. In other words, refugees who seek to hold on to their human rights could still be imprisoned for it, but ‘only’ for 60 days.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked was clear at the time about the necessity of this coercive measure, in her statement condemning the Supreme Court decision:

“The High Court removed from the state the ability to pressure the illegal infiltrators,” she said. “It turned the [migrant’s] lack of cooperation into a reward. We will fight this until we achieve the necessary results,” she said.

So Israel is now working on moves that would simply legalize what the court has struck down, and let’s see how far it goes before it’s challenged. As Ilan Lior reported in Haaretz on Friday, “The border authority will formally announce within a few weeks a new policy, under which asylum seekers will have to return to their countries of origin, agree to be sent to Rwanda or be jailed indefinitely in Israel.”  

Gabbay’s recent push to support Netanyahu’s bill has divided the Labor leaders, and even Shelly Yachimovitch of Labor– the one who demanded immediate pardon for medic-killer Elor Azarya– said that it’s “morally impossible to support this.” 

Labor lawmaker Zouheir Bahloul said, “I don’t understand how the party can support such an immoral move by the right, which seeks to throw refugees to hell.” He added: “Angela Merkel was willing to take the political risk until Election Day and take her moral stance of accepting thousands of refugees, and we hesitate and squirm here. Israel can handle a few tens of thousands of refugees and spread them across the country.”

In the end, most of the Zionist Union MKs who are against refugee rights (and that’s the plurality of the 22 Zionist Union members) were absent from the Knesset vote. But the measure still passed, as mentioned, 53-10.

With all the dissent, let’s look at what the leaders of the Israeli left say in the end:

Gabbay’s predecessor Isaac Herzog (still leader of Zionist Union in Knesset as Gabbay isn’t MK), said that “The infiltrators took Israeli Arab jobs.” Wow. The ‘infiltrators’. Netanyahu uses the same term. And is Herzog’s concern now really about ‘Arabs’ – the one who warned the Israeli center-left not to be seen to be ‘Arab lovers’?

Think about it – “Arab jobs”. Does anyone in Israel even notice the vile, blatant, racism here?

And Labor’s Merav Michaeli, (who recently said that “a lot of the BDS movement is good old anti-Semitism”), backed Herzog’s line, just a touch more “liberally”, without the ‘Arabs’ and substituting “infiltrators” with “migrants”:

“Residents have been left at home with no work, because of the migrants”, she said. “There are MK’s in the opposition who cannot look in[to] the eyes of residents who are screaming for us to save them”, she added.

Gosh, what empathy. The Israeli residents are screaming to be saved. Nonetheless, the cries of the refugees, who at best are called “migrants” and commonly regarded as “infiltrators”, even by the left, appear inaudible.

Gabbay is no doubt wooing votes from the right, and he said behind closed doors yesterday that “this is not an issue of right or left”. Already assuming his future constituency, he said that “we would pay a price for arguing with the public”.

So whilst not wanting to argue with “the public”, Gabbay apparently didn’t mind arguing with his own party leadership to support Netanyahu’s bill.

The Israeli Labor is further shedding masks. But let us not forget, that this is also the movement whose leaders contemplated genocide in Gaza in 1967, as newly declassified documents show. This is the same political movement that was responsible for the major ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948, subsequent major ethnic cleansings in 1967 and on, and the settlement project since 1967.

The movement that has so arduously created such a great Palestinian refugee crisis for the sake of the Jewish State– what is the meaning to Labor of another 40,000 African refugees after all?  

Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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18 Responses

  1. amigo on November 21, 2017, 1:06 pm

    Great video from the Electronic Intifada.

    A speaker from the Israeli left who claims to have been on the Palestinians side for over 30 yrs tells them , they should reach out to The Israeli left who are just waiting to be courted (my word).
    This guy is just like our site Leftie –Jon S. Hell it might even be him.

    “The third speaker, Alon Ben-Meir, a senior fellow at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, railed against what he had heard, lecturing Palestinians that they must abandon any form of resistance to Israel and appeal to a mythical Israeli center-left that is yearning for peace and a two-state solution.

    Ben-Meir blamed Palestinians for their own persecution by Israel.

    In the discussion period, I called Ben-Meir’s presentation “racist and patronizing,” and pointed out that Avi Gabbay, the leader of Israel’s ostensibly center-left Labor Party, is an anti-Arab racist who recently called Israel’s West Bank colonies “the beautiful face of Zionism.”

    It was a lively discussion that provided an opportunity to hear and debunk some of the most cherished myths and talking points of pro-Israel propagandists, including against the BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – movement for Palestinian rights.” EI

    Go to minute fifty for The zionist leftie and then to 1 hr 05 minutes for
    the response.

    • jon s on November 22, 2017, 3:32 pm

      amigo, After viewing the video, I’m pretty sure that it’s not me.

  2. Citizen on November 21, 2017, 6:16 pm

    What do members of BlackLivesMatter who are US taxpayers say about this issue? What does the congressional Black Caucus say about it? Anybody?

  3. Ossinev on November 22, 2017, 7:19 am

    Please don`t forget the victims in all of this – no silly not the “cancerous” infiltrators no the poor long suffering Jewish Israelis.

  4. Elizabeth Block on November 22, 2017, 10:54 am


    Somebody has forgotten what it means to be Jewish, and it isn’t Tamar Zandberg.

  5. Miriam on November 22, 2017, 3:00 pm

    Mebbe the israeli govt deportation dept should consider Cote D’Ivoire where they’ve been very busy collecting local conversions? (& Uganda had similar story) –here’s a current FORWARD piece on ongoing long planned efforts to “convert” despite israeli aversion to such nefariousness going in their apartheid state by their dear evangelical ‘friends’.

    • eljay on November 22, 2017, 3:28 pm

      || Miriam: … ||

      According to the article:

      … a Jewish conversion panel will arrive at Abidjan to finalize the conversion to Judaism of 42 candidates …

      It’s impressive how a religious conversion can transform a 21st century West African into (as Nathan tells it) an ancient person from Judah and grant him a right to “return” to his “ancient homeland” in the religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in geographic Palestine.

      • Mooser on November 22, 2017, 4:22 pm

        “It’s impressive how a religious conversion can transform…”

        Well, there also some gene-splicing. That’s what the little knives are for.

  6. m1945 on November 22, 2017, 4:38 pm

    There are 65.3 million refugees. None are Jews because Israel takes in all Jewish refugees.

    Before complaining that Israel doesn’t take in enough gentile refugees, let the majority-Christian & majority-Muslim countries take in Christian & Muslim refugees. Also, let’s remember that 6 million Jews died because majority-Christian & majority-Muslim countries refused to take in Jewish refugees.

    Furthermore, let’s remember why Israel was created. Israel was created to be a majority-Jewish country because majority-gentile countries had failed to provide safety for their Jewish citizens. If Israel takes in too many gentiles, it will no longer be majority-Jewish. Unfortunately, there still is a need for a majority-Jewish country because Jews are still targeted for being Jews.

    • amigo on November 22, 2017, 7:18 pm

      “There are 65 million refugees.None are Jew because Israel takes in all Jewish refugees.”wacko jacko.

      Well , that,s easy because Israel ethnically cleansed 700,000 indigenous Palestinians and burned /destroyed 450 villages to make room for so called Jewish refugees.

      BTW , jacko , would you agree that the USA is a Christian majority country and they took in , and still is taking in Jewish refugees including many from Israel .

      Shame on the USA , endangering Israel,s Jewish Majority status by pirating Jews from their historic homeland and placing them in mortal danger and at the mercy of the Christian hordes in Antisemitic US of A who want to kill them —ALL , because they are Jewish.

    • John O on November 23, 2017, 3:15 am

      @Jack Green

      On 25 October 2017 you wrote:

      “There are 60 million refugees.
      ZERO are Jews because Israel takes in all Jews.
      Israel has been a great success with refugees.
      Gentile countries have been an enormous failure with refugees.
      60 million gentile refugees are suffering.”

      Easy to be a success if you set conditions that ensure most refugees fail your entry test. Still, there’s no success like failure, and failure’s no success at all.

      • m1945 on November 23, 2017, 10:37 am

        John O

        It was not easy for a poor country like Israel was in 1948 & which had recently had 21,408 Israelis killed or injured & which had a population of 806,000 to take in & assimilate 688,000 refugees speaking different languages & coming from different cultures during the next 3 1/2 years.

      • John O on November 23, 2017, 12:30 pm

        @Jack Green

        Citations for your figures? Wikipedia entry on 1948 war (which Israel initiated) gives a figure of 6,373 Israeli dead. Not that Wikipedia is necessarily completely accurate on this, or any other, subject; but I note that you’re happy to accept the figures Wikipedia gives for “aliyah” between 1948 and 1951.

      • amigo on November 23, 2017, 1:58 pm

        “It was not easy for a poor country like Israel was in 1948 & which had recently had 21,408 Israelis killed or injured & which had a population of 806,000 to take in & assimilate 688,000 refugees speaking different languages & coming from different cultures during the next 3 1/2 years.”Jack green

        Jacko , have you ever heard of the “Great In Gathering”.

        Look it up and maybe you won,t post such self serving codswallop in future .

        ” assimilate 688,000 refugees ” jacko

        Are you aware how close that number is to the number of Palestinians who were ethnically cleansed from their homes , ( it is referred to as “The Nakba”) and were legitimate refugees as opposed to the so called Jewish refugees who willingly left their respective national homes to be part of the ingathering , where they would be given for free , the homes that were stolen from the legitimate owners.

        It wasn,t easy–ffs .

      • m1945 on November 23, 2017, 10:00 pm

        John O

        I said “killed or injured.”

      • Mooser on November 24, 2017, 1:25 pm

        “I said “killed or injured.”

        Would you believe ‘killed or injured or badly shaken’?
        No? Well, how about ‘killed, injured, badly shaken or very worried’?

        “Jack Green” why are you always bargaining Zionism down?

  7. Misterioso on November 22, 2017, 4:57 pm

    Just out:

    “Report: Mueller Investigating Kushner’s Efforts to Combat UN Resolution Condemning Israeli Settlements”

    “In the lead-up to the vote on the resolution, there were speculations that Russia could veto it, thus protecting Israel after the Obama administration decided to abstain”
    Amir Tibon (Washington, D.C.). Nov 22, 2017 – Haaretz.

    • amigo on November 23, 2017, 1:40 pm

      Not much coverage of this on MSM , up to 6pm GMT . Looks as if the phones have been ringing between the Media moguls and those who manage the Media outlets.

      No need to print this until we absolutely have to and keep it buried at the bottom of the second last page.

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