Another day in apartheid Israel

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.

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One thought on “Another day in apartheid Israel

  1. Tom Hall

    Astonishingly, the raving bigots we see in this video are regurgitating the accusations of European anti-semites prior to the Holocaust. They allege that a vile foreign race planted in their midst is bringing about the absolute ruin of the folk-community and must be rooted out at all costs.

    The people shown here parading and jeering at immigrants are so vicious and irrational that when David Sheen points out to them their affinities with Nazism, the point is completely lost on them. The demonstration, though noisy and odious, appears limited in numbers. But the low turnout on this occasion should not cause us to conclude such views or events are anomalous in Israel. They are not. Hebron is choking on bigotry. Jerusalem is undergoing renewed ethnic cleansing. The settler mentality is ascendant throughout the country.

    The paranoid fantasies on display in this footage, with its imagery of biological infestation, sexual disease and disorder, criminal demi-worlds, etc are rooted in past European discourse directed at Jews, and whether Zionists like it or not their own zeitgeist is drawn from the fetid atmosphere of imagined racial contamination. Inextinguishable fears over communal purity, demographic control and the like, are pervasive in the society they have built. The presence of people different from themselves becomes an intolerable provocation, and desperate measures are invoked to restore a presumed natural (or sacred) order.

    Any sane viewer must feel like cheering when the defiant African man, who is building “New York City” in Tel Aviv, is surrounded by these pogromists yet insists on presenting them with a few unwelcome facts. . Also, the young woman who tells of life lived in the face of such repulsive discrimination, commands great respect and sympathy.

    As a footnote, not being a Hebrew speaker, I couldn’t recognize the word translated as “infiltrators”. But I know that the Palestinians shot for trying to return to their homes after the Nakba were habitually described under administrative orders and Israeli law by some word routinely translated as “infiltrator”. So the African and Filipino immigrants can take an ironic satisfaction at least in this, that in Israeli speech, the epithet being hurled against them is actually a word for people who belong.

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