Israel, a nation built on the notion of asylum, isn’t being so hospitable to its refugees these days. Some 60,000 African asylum-seekers from South Sudan and Eritrea, fleeing rampant violence in their own countries, have made their way to the Holy Land illegally and settled in Tel Aviv in recent years, where they are now being subjected to racism at the hands of anti-migrant government officials and worse, the citizens themselves.
In response to the rising crime rate in south Tel Aviv (where many of the asylum-seekers have settled), hundreds of Israelis marched through migrant-heavy neighbourhoods chanting, “Africans out!” Homes and even a makeshift school have been firebombed. Though police say foreigner crime rates are low, many citizens aren’t convinced. They’re not the only ones suspicious of outsiders. On May 29, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu added African “infiltrators” to a list of threats to the Jewish state.
However, several anti-racism demonstrations have taken place protesting the government’s hard stance. Even Israeli Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino has come to the Africans’ defence, imploring the government to grant migrants work visas so they don’t have to turn to crime to feed themselves. “Those that are here already should be able to work.”