On Monday, the Israeli parliament, Knesset, passed an amendment to the ‘Prevention of Infiltration Act’, aimed at African refugees from mainly Eritrea and Sudan, so that it could continue to coerce African refugees to be deported to a third country, against the threat of indefinite incarceration. The law was promoted after the Supreme Court criticized the state practice of incarcerating refugees for indefinite periods, in attempt to coerce them to leave to a third country. “We’ll have to enact new laws that will enable us … to send the illegal infiltrators out of our country”, said Prime Minister Netanyahu three months ago, on his “mission to give back south Tel Aviv to the Israeli residents” (from the African ‘infiltrators’ who had supposedly taken it over).
What we are seeing here is not really new legislation. The state is simply bent upon deporting the African refugees, and if it can make ‘new legislation’ and enact immediate deportation it might get away with it before in a race against the courts. The state had already declared a week ago, even before the passing of the law, that it will be enacting the deportations within the next few weeks, as Haaretz reported. Netanyahu has also reportedly cut a deal with Rwanda, wherein also refugees deported against their will would be taken by Rwanda.
The bill passed in second and third readings on a count of 71-41 (out of 120 Knesset members).
Some of the Labor lawmakers, whom were forced to support the bill’s first reading by their leader Avi Gabbay, had apparently made some rebellion in the ranks, and were permitted to vote ‘according to conscience’ in the final readings, as reported in Kan and Israel Hayom (Hebrew).
The law entails a closing of the desert detention facility Holot within three months, and yet, with its closing, the detained refugees will face two ‘options’ – indefinite detention, or deportation to a third African country. In other words, the state is simply continuing its policy.
The law was sponsored by Minister of Interior Arye Deri and Minister of Public Security and Hasbara Gilad Erdan.
Deri said when submitting the bill:
“As I had promised the residents of south Tel Aviv and the rest of the neighborhoods and cities where infiltrators reside, it is in my intention to increase by any possible means the pace of exit to a third country and to not further offer infiltrators the comfort of the Holot staying facility”.
The “comfort” of the Holot detention facility was succinctly described by Deri’s predecessor, Eli Yishai, when he said that its purpose was “to make the lives of its detainees so miserable that they would voluntarily leave the country”.
The blatant disregard for African refugees, who are generally framed as ‘infiltrators’, the policy entailing sending them to torture and death at sea, has been articulated by deputy Defense Minster Eli Ben Dahan, who last year said that
“they don’t need to be extended a helping hand or be pulled out of the sea and saved from drowning.”
Sadly, this does not seem to be making big headlines in Israel, nor elsewhere for that matter. Liberal Israelis are marching in the streets against governmental corruption involving Netanyahu and others (involving the ‘recommendations bill’ to limit police involvement in corruption cases), but these protests do not even touch the institutionalized corruption of such matters as this one. Israeli Haaretz journalist Gidon Levy wrote last week a scathing critique of these ‘Rothchild protests’, a piece titled “We’re Fed Up With Your Protests”:
“It would also be proper to demonstrate Saturday night against the plan to send tens of thousands of African asylum seekers to their deaths. Against the evil of those who are sending them. In your dreams. We have the recommendations bill to protest.”
In an earlier amendment vote concerning this law, back in 2014, Erdan said that “the argument here is between two political groups: Between those who see Israel first and foremost as the one and only state of the Jewish people, and the left bloc which to my regret is willing to endanger this” (Mako, Hebrew).
In 2011, the mentioned former Interior Minister Eli Yishai said that the mere presence of the refugees is an “existential threat”, and vowed to defend the “Jewish majority”. “Each and every one of them will return to their countries”, he said.
So you see, it really is all about the Jewish State, the Zionist notion which informs each and every detail of Israel’s policy.
“And you are to love those who are foreigners!”,
“And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt”.
Khenin was perhaps petitioning to the ‘Jewish compassion’, but the Orthodox Jewish ministers mentioned – Yishai, Ben Dahan – they voice the most murderous expressions of hate towards these ‘foreigners’. Khenin’s pleas fall on deaf ears. And not many in Israel even want to hear about this anyway.
Today, Gideon Levy, once again on the beat of highly moral matters, shouts as voice in the wilderness:
“Israeli Pilots Must Refuse to Fly Expelled Asylum Seekers Toward Their Deaths” (the title of his piece). But he is not optimistic regarding the “best of the bunch at El Al, Arkia and Israir, veterans of the Israel Air Force, the destruction in Gaza and the flattening of Dahieh”. He still wonders whether “any of them stand up and say no, not us, not in this country of refugees?”
But the “Jewish state” doesn’t think of itself a s a country of refugees. It thinks of itself as a country of Jews who have ‘returned’. And the ‘others’? They can go to Rwanda, or drown at sea for all we care…
H/T Ofer Neiman