Mya Guarnieri reports: Last week, Tel Aviv City Councilman Binyamin Babayoff (Shas) sent a letter to Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, Minister of Transportation Israel Katz, and Dr. Moshe Tiomkin, a Tel Aviv councilman and the head of the city’s Transportation, Traffic and Parking Authority. In an excerpt published by Mynet (local online Hebrew news affiliated with Ynet), Babayoff wrote that “illegal foreign workers fill the buses…” leaving no room for Jewish Israeli residents of South Tel Aviv. He added that “foreign workers… give off a bad smell and they might, God forbid, cause all kinds of diseases.”
Reminding of Jim Crow laws, Babayoff proposes that the state introduce separate buses for migrant workers and refugees or limit their access to buses during peak hours of heavy traffic, thus giving preference to Jewish Israeli residents.
Speaking to Mynet, Babayoff claimed that his proposal was not racist. He said that Jewish Israelis in South Tel Aviv “live a life of hell” because of the foreigners in the neighborhood. He added that his letter was a response to the appeals of “scared” residents.
In a comment to Mynet, the Tel Aviv Municipality condemned Babayoff’s proposal and called it “racist,” adding that it is committed to “caring for immigrant workers and their basic health needs, education, and welfare…”
(Though they’re not migrant workers, homeless African refugees might beg to differ with the city’s statement).
After Babayoff embarked on a campaign against migrant workers and refugees in the summer of 2010 — calling on South Tel Aviv landlords not to rent to these “infiltrators” and claiming that doing so violates Jewish religious law — 25 area rabbis signed an “Edict Forbidding the Rental of Apartments to Infiltrators.” Shortly thereafter, 10 South Tel Aviv real estate agents signed a petition stating they would not rent to illegal residents.
Later that year, hundreds of Israeli rabbis across the country signed a religious edict forbidding the rental or sale of property to Palestinian citizens of the state.
Last year, David Sheen, an Israeli journalist with Haaretz, filmed some of the Jewish nationalists in South Tel Aviv who want “foreign infiltrators” expelled from Israel.