Danny Ayalon’s cynical abuse of Mizrahi refugees

Today, the Israeli Foreign Ministry launched a social media campaign “I am a Refugee” to deflect criticism from Israel’s appalling treatment of African asylum seekers. In the 1948 founding of the State of Israel, while Jewish extremists were shooing Palestinians from their villages, many Arab countries ejected their Jewish populations and seized their properties. Conveniently this is two-for-one issue for the nationalist camp, shifting blame over the lack of Israeli-Palestinian peace progress back on Arab countries.

I would think that Jews of Arab origin would be outraged that their dispossession is again raised only as a talking point against Palestinian refugees. As a decidedly secondary and repressed narrative in Israeli society, the true-to-life injustice suffered by Jews from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Iran and other places is shunted aside because of the uncomfortable consequences such an equivalence would have on the Palestinian refugee issue. Meaning, if Mizrachim are granted repatriation or compensation back in the Arab world, then such would grant Palestinians the same in Israel.

So by raising this issue in such a way, Danny Ayalon and the Israeli government seem to implicitly say that invoking justice for Mizrachim is just a political game. There won’t be any justice — but they’re happy to abuse that memory for political gain. More cynical injustice to heap upon an already unfair situation. I can only hope that Danny Ayalon cooked this up himself without involving the helpless foreign service professionals who painfully chafe at this government’s incessant foreign affairs stupidity.

To help African asylum seekers being unrightfully and inhumanely arrested and deported, get involved in RIGHT NOW: Jewish Americans Advocating for African Asylum Seekers in Israel.

Filed under Israel, Mizrahi

12 Responses to “Danny Ayalon’s cynical abuse of Mizrahi refugees”

  1. Disgusting. Evil.


    Jew Guevara · August 30th, 2012 at 4:07 pm
  2. Nehemia Strassler on the migrants:

    “The migration from Africa began in 2005, but back then, the pace was slow, so it was tolerable. But it suddenly shot up in 2010, and became a hot topic when residents of south Tel Aviv started demonstrating against the government for abandoning them.

    They were confronted by social activists and members of human rights organizations, who believe that every resident of Africa has the right to enter Israel, and that the state must supply them all with work permits, health care and education. They don’t care too much if a worker from Sudan takes the place of an Israeli worker, who will then be unemployed. After all, these are just uninfluential manual laborers.

    They also don’t care that the state’s resources are limited. In their view, the state is a bottomless pit with an unlimited budget, and it is possible to feed, house, and provide medical care for all the residents of Africa. Instead of two states for two peoples, we should set up two states for three peoples here.
    When the government began accelerating construction of the fence on the Sinai border, the “social” organizations demonstrated against it. But the climax occurred this week, when it turned out that Israel Defense Forces soldiers have penetrated a little way into Sinai with the aim of preventing migrants from reaching the border. They stop them there and hand them over to the Egyptian forces.

    The human rights organizations immediately raised a ruckus and charged that Israel was violating international law by acting in this way. In other words, we are forbidden to do anything − not to build a fence, not to stop the infiltrators, not to hand them over to the Egyptian authorities. We should simply invite them in and take care of all their needs. If that is the case, why don’t we send planes to Eritrea and Sudan and invite them to take a trip to Ben-Gurion Airport, with everything included?”

    It’s fair to criticize Strassler’s view, and demand that Israel lead the world in helping African migrants, including granting residency status to them in a disporportionate amount, in comparison to other host countries.

    But, this should include American Jewish communities also bringing in tens of thousands of African refugees to live with in their communities.

    (I know, I know: American Jews are American citizens, and America takes in plenty of new citizens from Mexico every week, and even though these new American citizens have nothing, in any way, to do with any American Jewish communities, it’s the same as what’s being asked of Israelis in south Tel Aviv.)


    Jonathan1 · August 30th, 2012 at 5:01 pm
  3. 1/ Er, what do the Mizrahi themselves tend to think about this?

    2/ Are there any Sephardim or Mizrahim on your masthead? All the names look Ashkenazi to me although some of the noms de web may represent people who are not Ashkenazi. What’s the story?


    Dave Boxthorn · August 30th, 2012 at 9:28 pm
  4. Meaning, if Mizrachim are granted repatriation or compensation back in the Arab world, then such would grant Palestinians the same in Israel.

    I think there’s a little error in thought here. It is not repatriation or compensation, but rather why, if Israel could absorb the Jews expelled from the Arab world, will the Arab world not absorb the displaced Palestinians.

    Dealing justly with the African refugees is also a completely separate issue; Ayalon should not be comparing them. The Mizrachi Jews were Israel’s to absorb, on the basis of kinship and the idea of Israel as a safe refuge for Jews who cannot remain where they are. Just dealings with the African refugees ought not result in permanent settlement in Israel, but rather in judicious placement in countries like the US or Australia or the European countries, countries more massive and richer than Israel. It would take some serious cooperation to make that happen, and while I think it sucks that Israel is turning these people over to those from whom they are fleeing, it should also be noted that Israel has no obligation to permanently settle them either.


    Rich · August 30th, 2012 at 11:24 pm
  5. Nehemia Strassler is tilting at straw men, since nobody among the human rights community is advocating permanent citizenship for refugees. Nor has anyone put a number on the table for the number Israel can absorb reasonably. But since Israel cannot actually deport them — not to Sudan or Eritrea, where life is unsafe — then at least let them work above the table legally. To allow them to stay but without work permits is to enforce poverty.


    Kung Fu Jew 18 · August 31st, 2012 at 5:29 pm
  6. What exactly are you advocating for, KFJ?

    Nor has anyone put a number on the table for the number Israel can absorb reasonably.

    What everybody is advocating for is a policy that will lead to Israel turning into the final destination point for every person who wants to leave Africa.

    That’s just not fair.

    In any case, I do tip my hat to you, KFJ, for having the courage (insanity) to move to Tel Aviv at a time when there might be a war in Tel Aviv.


    Jonathan1 · September 1st, 2012 at 3:05 pm
  7. “I would think that Jews of Arab origin would be outraged that their dispossession is again raised only as a talking point against Palestinian refugees.”

    I would think, and honestly and seriously here, that someone who would consider writing this sentence OUGHT to try to front a Mizrahi perspective rather than trying to speak for Mizrahi Jews. From what I’ve seen, no, Mizrahi Jews don’t think that. Which leads me to think this post really isn’t concerned with Mizrahi narratives, but is more interested in using Mizrahi Jews in exactly the way it claims to criticize.


    Matt · September 5th, 2012 at 2:18 am
  8. I do tip my hat to you, KFJ, for having the courage (insanity) to move to Tel Aviv at a time when there might be a war in Tel Aviv.

    War in Tel Aviv? People seem pretty oblivious to the world here.

    Which leads me to think this post really isn’t concerned with Mizrahi narratives, but is more interested in using Mizrahi Jews in exactly the way it claims to criticize.

    Touche!


    Kung Fu Jew 18 · September 5th, 2012 at 8:42 am
  9. Why would Mizrachim be “outraged” that their narrative is finally being openly acknowledged and discussed by the Israeli government? To the contrary, I’d think they’d be thrilled.

    If you admit that the “true-to-life injustice” they’ve suffered has previously been “shunted aside” by Israeli politicians, why wouldn’t they be appreciative that Israeli officialdom is now acknowledging their historical pain and granting their narrative the weight it deserves?


    Eric · September 9th, 2012 at 9:59 pm
  10. I actually agree with you, Eric (a little bit). I think KFJ’s (pretty valid) point is that the government only seems to be willing to confront their own injustices vis a vis Mizrahi olim when it serves their political interests; but the government has yet to acknowledge the systematic inequalities and the abhorrent treatment of Mirzahi olim in the name of “public health,” which has itself caused a public health situation for Mizrahi olim of a certain age. (for the unaware, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ringworm_affair)


    justin · September 10th, 2012 at 9:10 am
  11. for fairness sake, i should probably also say that the knesset did mandate compensation to those mizrahi families subjected to ringworm treatment. i don’t know if it was ever payed out, but the law was passed i think in the early 90s.


    justin · September 10th, 2012 at 12:18 pm
  12. “I would think that Jews of Arab origin would be outraged that their dispossession”

    Have you thought of speaking to one directly? Just a thought. There are millions of them. So no need to be in such a subjunctive mood.


    omri · September 24th, 2012 at 3:21 pm

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