These thoughts, reflections and statements are in response to anti-immigration riots which rocked the streets of southern Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv has been hit by the most violent protests in its recent history after more than 1,000 Israelis took to the streets in the city’s south to demand the deportation of African immigrants and asylum seekers.
Daniel Zweig, Central Shaliach for FZY, shares his thoughts on the riots against Sudanese refugee riots
The refugee problem in Israel is a serious issue. It has been treated for the past few years with negligence by the government and responsible authorities. Perennial under-funding in the infrastructure of neighbourhoods where refugees live, combined with under-investment in education, health and welfare, have caused tensions to rise in neighbourhoods that were struggling before the influx of immigrants from Africa. These immigrants have been further burdened by the lack of any state assistance in assimilating into Israeli society.
The Jewish people, a persecuted and beaten people itself, must take a clear stand – a stand that does not compromise on the values we believe, the values that we repeat and teach our sons and daughters, the values to which we inspire, and moreover the values that we demand from the other nations of the world. We can not speak out against anti-Semitism, Jewish persecution, incitement against Jewish communities andIsrael, and on the same breath call for a total, vast expulsion of the refugees fromIsrael. Statements such as “they take our jobs”, “they rape our daughters”, “they are sick and dirty” and “death to the Sudanese” cannot come in tandem with the rage, the anger, and the pain that comes with the memory of the Holocaust, the vision of the Jewish revival and the future of our wish to be that light to the nations we strive to be.
No doubt, the African refugees’ immigration to Israelis a big problem the Jewish state is dealing with. It’s another tests to our nation, together with our treatment towards the Arab-Israeli citizens, Palestinians, Bedouins, Ethiopian Jews immigrants, LGBT community, Jewish pluralism and more. It may be one of the more complex, and difficult ones we have to handle, but this does not make it unsolvable – rather, just an issue that requires much more creative solutions. The situation will not be solved by itself and the Israeli government and other authorities must start act now. However, we, as a nation, must make sure that we do not become everything we fought against for all these years. We mustn’t become our persecutors and enemies. We must stand firm and say to those among us who are trying to make us racists, violent, driven out of fear, hatred and narrow minded: “our path is not your path; our vision is not your vision. We will be a different nation. We can be better, because we know better: we were also refugees.”
Joshua Marks, FZY Mazkir, would like to share a statement from all the Zionist youth movements – the Zionist Youth Council – before adding his own comments:
Last night in Tel Aviv, around 1000 protesters took to the streets of Hatikva neighbourhood to protest the continuing presence of African asylum seekers in the area and calling for their removal. The protests ended in violence against the African population; looting and assault, rioting and possession of weapons. These riots followed a week of arson attacks on homes and businesses of asylum seekers.
The ZYC condemns the violent acts of racism that took place against African asylum seekers on the 23rd of May 2012. No matter our beliefs of freedom to protest, speak out and voice our opinions these rights do not extend to violence against others, threats of violence or theft and destruction of property.
“When a stranger resides in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Vayikra 19:33-34
As Jewish, Zionist organisations we support a fair and just State of Israel and we encourage all citizens to act in manner that upholds Jewish values and the values of the state of Israel.
FZY is committed to ensuring that Israel remains an ‘Or laGoyim’ – a light unto the nations – in its mission statement. The recent violence against Sudanese refugees flies in the face of this mission, as Israel strays from the vision of justice and peace emphasised by our biblical prophets and Constitution of the modern state.
As part of our commitment to these values, our young members have the opportunity to volunteer with the Sudanese refugees on our Israel programmes, especially Year Course, Amirim and WUJS. If you are interested in getting more involved in any of these causes, or finding out how you can go to Israel to help this community, please contact Dena at the FZY Office on 02082017775.