The biased narrative of Israel and the African refugees

The world media is having a field day with Israel’s decision to return refugees to their countries of origin. All of the reports mention the anti-refugee violence; few of them mention the brutal rapes and attacks that instigated it. And the UNHCR still does nothing to help Israel cope with its population of African refugees, estimated at 60,000. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. The UNHCR is unable to handle the refugee problem in its own camps.

So you get stories like this one:

Thousands of Africans in Israel are on tender-hooks this week as authorities crackdown on what its Ministry of Interior calls illegal migrant workers. Still, more arrive daily. Although they come seeking a better life in the one Western democracy that’s reachable by land, many now face a one-way ticket home.

Guy Josif knows his days are numbered. The former Darfur resident, who changed his name from Abdel Hamid Jousif, has etched out a living in Tel Aviv since crossing Egypt into Israel in 2008. He holds a temporary resident permit, but no secure future.

“I’m scared but I’ve got no choice, so I just live today. Whatever I am able to do, I do, and that’s it. I’m scared.”

And there is no context, just slams against Israel for refusing to harbor refugees–clearly implied in this paragraph.

The mass influx has seen a violent backlash from some Israeli communities and politicians in the last three months. African residences have been fire-bombed. Street protests demanding deportation have spiralled into violence. There have been personal attacks in South Tel Aviv where Josif lives.

And as this is in allAfrica.com, of course they play up the racism issue.

It’s a powder-keg of densely crowded, low socio-economic communities where locals are now outnumbered by Africans, and where the word “asylum seeker” is being replaced by the word “infiltrator” in political rhetoric and on the street.

“Now everything has changed,” says Josif. “The people have started saying openly: ‘We don’t want you because you are black, or that stupid word that they are saying against us.’”

Only a few outlets are writing the truth about the surge in anti-immigrant feeling:

She’s referring to harsh anti-immigrant sentiment in Israel after Israeli women and minors were raped by immigrants. In one case, on the eve of Israeli Independence Day, three Eritreans beat and robbed the victim’s boyfriend, then forced him to watch as they repeatedly raped her in a lot near the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station.

Oh. There was a reason people got mad at the illegal migrants. You can’t tell that from the AFP or AP articles about the issue. All the AP writes is this:

The hostile mood has grown following the arrests of several Africans on suspicion of rape and fiery warnings by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the influx of migrants will damage Israel’s Jewish character.

Right. Blame it on Likud. The AP also manages to blame Netanyahu for fanning these flames so that all eyes will stop looking at the settlement issue.

The AFP uses even less context.

Rising tensions over the growing number of illegal immigrants in Israel exploded into violence last month when a protest in south Tel Aviv turned nasty, with demonstrators smashing African-run shops and property, chanting “Blacks out!”

But that’s to be expected in France, the nation that tried to say a Muslim who deliberately targeted Jews at a school was not carrying out an anti-Semitic attack. They truly have learning nothing since the Dreyfus affair.

Here’s a first-hand story of what life is like among the refugees. It’s not pretty, but it’s not horrible, either. This is a problem that needs to be resolved. The fact that billions of dollars go to Palestinian refugees living comfortably in Gaza and Israel, while the African migrants in Israel sleep in parks, should be something that the world media might want to point out. But they won’t. Because Israel being mean to Africans fits the narrative of the racist, intolerant state that the media want to push. Which is why you won’t see anything like this in the world media reports:

I promise to take care of this soon, but by now it’s Friday evening, and we are heading to the “Solomon.” As it turns out, it’s a three-story building that used to offer porn movies, before turning into a hostel for the homeless. Today it’s a sort of mega-club for infiltrators: Three floors, each featuring loud music, plenty of beer and much violence. It’s past midnight and the place is packed. The alcohol is being poured, and with it, the ethnic genies come out of the bottle. Suddenly, a wild brawl erupts pitting a Sudanese group against the Eritreans. Bottles are broken on heads, fists and chairs are used, and deep hatred is in the air, as if all these people do not share a similar fate here in Israel.

And the influx of migrants continues, hundreds every week. When you adjust for population, it would be the same as America having an influx of 2.25 million migrants living illegally in poor neighborhoods, sleeping in parks, many of them stealing for a living.

No wonder Israel is deporting them.

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2 Responses to The biased narrative of Israel and the African refugees

  1. Alex Bensky says:

    Golly, Meryl, the UN has all sorts of money for Palestinian refugees and there are countries in the region where these people could easily be resettled? Why not do that? It’s not as if the refugees can be claimed to be victims of Jews and must be kept in camps.

  2. Cynic says:

    It’s not just the UN that has kept on giving money for the Palestinians while ignoring genuine refugees.
    As Newt Gingrich said in an ABC interview some time back that tragically the US has been helping sustain the war against Israel.
    Fact checking Newt Gingrich

    Incidentally, ABC didn’t fact-check Gingrich’s accurate statement that Hamas rejects Israel’s right to exist.

    Yet ABC and everyone else missed the real bombshell in what Gingrich said: “For a variety of political reasons we [the United States] have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940s, and it’s tragic.”

    But even more tragically it has to all intents and purposes basically ignored the Muslim massacre of Darfurians for some years now.
    Had the US truly wished to do something they could have had an enormous influence on the UN’s behaviour towards “refugees”.
    From way back in the 1950s
    Committee on Foreign Relations, Palestine Refugee Program, Hearings before the Subcommittee on the Near East and Africa of the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, Eighty-Third Congress, First Session on the Palestine Refugee Program, May 20, 21, and 25, 1953 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1953), p. 103.

    The Quote

    On 25 May 1953 in testimony before the Subcommittee on Near East and Africa of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the Reverend Karl Baehr, Executive Secretary of the American Christian Palestine Committee stated:

    The political picture within the Arab refugee camps is important to an understanding of the problem, and I must say it is of special significance to this committee.

    In April of 1952, Sir Alexander Galloway, then head of the UNRWA for Jordan, said to our study group, and this is really a direct quote from what he said:

    It is perfectly clear than the Arab nations do not want to solve the Arab refugee problem. They want to keep it as an open sore, as an affront against the United Nations, and as a weapon against Israel.

    Then, by way of emphasis he said:

    Arab leaders don’t give a damn whether the refugees live or die.

    This simple fact has been more and more clearly demonstrated as I have on repeated occasions visited the refugee centers. Close supervision of the refugee centers is being maintained by the Arab League so that the presentations from camp to camp vary in no detail. It is only as one breaks away from these formal presentations that one begins to get individual reactions and varied opinions such as those expressed by the preceding speaker. And most visitors have neither the time nor the inclination to try to dig beneath the emotional presentations.

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