Blatant hypocrisy

African migrants protected by Israeli border police, background, look on to an anti-African migrant protest, not seen, in Tel Aviv, Israel. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Many words come to mind when one reviews the recent moves by Israel authorities against African migrants, such as hypocrisy, and irony, and of course, chutzpah.

The Israelis have deemed it necessary to erect tent cities for thousands of African nationals who have entered the country illegally in recent years, and are taking sudden measures to encourage all of them to leave, whether with their consent, or without.

The authorities have couched their actions in terms of taking legal steps against a worrisome domestic development, but the entire process has been bound up with the ugliest kinds of outright racist rhetoric, and violence, against Africans by Israeli society.

The entire affair smacks of the 1940s, when Nazi authorities labeled whole categories of people as undesirables, and either deported or slaughtered them.

The irony and hypocrisy arise when one remembers that Israel was supposedly established as a state to protect people from the Holocaust, although Zionist colonization in Palestine had begun decades earlier.

Added to this is the bizarre notion that a state that is supposedly obsessed with national security, and one that is fond of lecturing everyone else about protecting borders, suddenly wakes up to find that tens of thousands of people have been able to stream across Israel’s borders, seemingly with little difficulty.

Israeli leaders have also taken the opportunity to warn against the “loss of Israel’s Jewish character” due to the influx of migrants, while the statistics happen to defeat the other racist claims – police point out that the crime rate among the migrants is in fact lower than that in ordinary Israeli society.

In plain English, Israel is practicing a form of state terrorism, by suddenly realizing that it has a threatening population within its midst, even though many people are lured there by the prospect of securing jobs – the Israelis have had no problem exploiting such a group, and then suddenly deciding that they are redundant and must be evicted.

Israel has a long track record of reacting with the policy of collective punishment, whether it’s against Palestinians, or the people of south Lebanon.

Meanwhile, the western world, full of allies of Israel, is silent amid these outrages. A single dissident in China becomes an international cause célèbre, while the oppression of thousands of Africans in Israel is something that does not merit condemnation.

Every other state in the Middle East is subjected to lecture after lecture by Western leaders who hold up the slogans of human rights to issue criticisms left and right.

The Israelis are fond of regularly seeking out international sympathy as victims, and they have the audacity, or chutzpah, to brand entire groups of people as undesirables, and round them up to be placed in centers of detention.

The irony, and the hypocrisy, are obvious to all except those who willingly choose to ignore such actions.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 09, 2012, on page 7.




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