Jun 18, 2012
On June 3rd, the Israeli government authorized the imprisonment of immigrants for up to three years. The same night, there was an arson attack against a building housing illegal immigrants in Jerusalem. This illustrates the rising tension against these immigrants.
A few days later, the Vice-prime Minister, the Minister of the Interior and the head of the religious party Shas announced that illegal immigrants from South Sudan had eight days to get out of the country or be deported. A court had already rejected the attempt of human rights groups to prevent deportations.
The South Sudanese aren’t the only ones authorities are targeting. The Minister of the Interior said, “there are some 15,000 Sudanese and 35,000 Eritrean immigrants, that for the moment I’m not authorised to deport.” For the moment.... But the army just announced that it’s begun building deportation camps for 20,000 in the desert.
These immigrants are visible everywhere in Israel, working in the worst, lowest-paid jobs: in construction, on building sites in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem; on the roadways and on farms. For years now, Palestinians, especially from Gaza, have been pretty much kept out of work in Israel, so Israeli bosses have turned to immigrants to replace them. Asian immigrants were first brought in. Recently, African immigrants came in. Officially, they crossed the border between Egypt and Israel illegally. In fact, this perfectly suits the needs of the economy and a section of Israeli bosses. The authorities conveniently shut their eyes to what was occurring, letting it be illegal. This put pressure on the wages of these illegal workers, and pleased the religious and Zionist far right.
The far right has been increasing racist attacks against these immigrants. The Interior Minister says he is waging “a war for the preservation of the Zionist and Jewish dream in the land of Israel.”
This “dream” has been a nightmare for the Palestinians in the occupied territories, and risks becoming one for the African migrants. But it also turns the life of the Israelis of Jewish origins into a hell, confronted as they are with the growing hold of the religious, nationalist and racist far right over society. This is a country which is still putting the finishing touches on the 25-foot-high wall it has built all around its borders to separate the populations. In the end, the Israeli population finds itself enclosed in these same walls, due to the policy of its leaders.
What Marx said over a century and a half ago is unfortunately not outdated, “A people who oppress another can never be free.”