‘Israel’s War on Africans’ a well-researched and timely presentation by David Sheen narrates the tormenting and distressing facts about Africans specially Sudanese and Eritrean refugees in Israel. David is an independent journalist and film maker who closely follows documents and writes about the lives and struggles of African migrants in Israel. Last March, he presented a 72 minute slide show at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada that depicted the deeply rooted racist mentality of Israeli authorities and Jewish religious leaders in treating African migrants who entered to Israel escaping genocide, persecutions and political unrest in their respective countries.
The first part of David’s presentation explains about various practices instituted to round and arrest any African for no or smaller crimes granting a fair trial in various, authorities vowing to make lives of Africans “miserable” while chief Rabbis preach and warn followers not to sell or buy from Africans and rent houses to Africans. He also explains Africans being forbidden to access Jew hospitals unless it is an emergency; Authorities erecting red flags to indicate war against Africans; Mayors rallying for kicking Africans out of their apartments while other authorities force Africans out of cities and isolate them in remote areas. David evokes same kind of racism against color was directed at Jews who migrated from African countries such as Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt in the late 1940’s. David stresses that “Jews people of color have also experienced racism in Israel but pales in comparison to the discrimination non–Jewish people of color face.” According to David, the longstanding Israeli refugee policy is derived by “white supremacy, nativism, classism, and above all Jewish supremacy.” In support to this, he quotes spiritual leaders as preaching “non-Jews are created by God to serve Jews.”
David reiterates also the main push factor that led Africans fled to Israel and the dangers that refugees faced while crossing borders. In 2006, Sudanese refugees in Egypt protested demanding refugee rights where Egyptian police beaten, shot and killed dozens of men and women “so at this point no Sudanese refugee feels safe and that’s when you have 2006 the beginning of the flight across the Sinai desert towards Israel.” Later, Eritrean refugees followed the route to Israel. Eritreans constitute “the large majority of African refugees in Israel”. He states that Eritreans fled their country to escape political oppressions as a result of one party ruling who does not allow election and respect of human rights in the country. When the first class of Sudanese refugees arrived, Israeli authorities established a system to reject claims of refugees to deter from staying or coming in to Israel. Presently, Israel “chose” to lead the world by having the lowest refugee’s acceptance rate i.e. 0% while other countries, including those with lower economic standard are taking up their resources to protect refugees.
According to the Israeli govt, all African refugees are “liars and they are economic migrants.” David further states that “authorities use the term ‘infiltrators’ to dehumanize and demonize African refugees.” Most shocking is that most Israelis endorse their government’s labeling. “52% of Israelis agree African migrants are a ‘cancer’ and 33 % supported vigilant attack on Africans.” says David. While African refugees represent 0.7% of the population, “61% Israelis support deportation of Africans and 18.4 % support jailing of African refugees.”
The situation appears to be helpless to African refugees. The refugees “began to relies that there is nowhere to go” specially after the second Anti-Infiltration law was issued by the senate ignoring the decision of the high court striking the first anti-infiltration law that allows jailing of Africans for three years. The second bill orders detention of African refugees for indefinite period until they agree to deport themselves. “Their backs are against the wall and they have only themselves to count on” explains David therefore people start to protest demanding their refugee rights “in front of American Embassy, the Canadian Embassy, in front of the UN, in front of the AU really teaching Israelis the lesson of Democracy trying every non-violent tactic they can think of.” For David, it is inspiring to hear people calling for freedom but at the same time it is “incredibly depressing because no matter how much they protest the government outright rejects their demands.” With the people backing the government’s position David says “it seems like there is no hope of any internal force of breaking this vice group.”