Israeli mercenary firm proposes "violent action" against African refugees

 

The Israeli daily Maariv recently reported [in Hebrew] that BTS, a mercenary firm run by a former Israeli army colonel and veteran bodyguard, Beni Tal, proposed to Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai a plan to violently expel thousands of African migrant workers and refugees living near Tel Aviv's central bus station.
 
According to Maariv, Tal told Tel Aviv municipal representatives he would gather intelligence on the African migrant population before sending in hundreds of security guards to cuff them and ship them away on buses or trucks. "This should be a very violent action," Tal said.
 
"I have never seen a place so violent, not even in the roughest parts of New York," Tal remarked. "So we need to bring in guys who are not afraid of anything, put people on trucks, and within six months return the bus station to its residents... This population [Africans] is very problematic."
 
Though the Tel Aviv municipality ultimately rejected Tal's proposal, Maariv reported that a municipal official brought the plan up in a meeting of the Israeli Knesset's Special Committee regarding Foreign Workers. The representative claimed he raised Tal's proposal merely to highlight the supposed severity of the situation in southern Tel Aviv.
 
I have spent countless hours in Tel Aviv's central bus station and in the surrounding Neve Shaanan neighborhood, where much of the city's migrant worker population lives. The only people who have ever threatened me there were plainclothes agents from Israel's Oz Unit, which routinely accosts and arrests migrants around the bus station, and who once stopped me by the bus station to demand proof I was in the country legally.
 
The neighborhood may be impoverished and overcrowded, but it is hardly dangerous by urban American standards. When a Maariv reporter confronted Tal with the fact that crime in Neve Shaanan was no higher than anywhere else in the city, he protested that the statistics were false, but was unable to produce evidence to support his point.
 
Some migrants from Africa have arrived in Israel to occupy the menial jobs that Palestinians performed before they were tucked behind a separation wall and Gaza was completely besieged. They are the glue that holds Tel Aviv together, washing dishes, cooking food, cleaning bathrooms, and changing children's diapers so the city's Jewish residents can enjoy the First World, Eurocentric lifestyle they have come to expect. Others arrived from Africa fleeing war and civil strife. By some estimates, 60 percent of Sudanese migrants are eligible for asylum status.
 
David Sheen's devastating video documentary, "Racism Report: Africans in Israel" illustrates how Israel's draconian approach to African refugees is rooted in deeply ingrained racist attitudes and an official policy of countering demographic threats. Sheen's report highlights how security concerns were manufactured to establish a pretext for enforcing the state's exclusivist priorities against those condemned as "infiltrators."
 
The recently passed "Prevention of Infiltration Bill," which mandates a three year prison sentence without trial for illegal migrants, was nothing more than an amendment to the pre-existing 1954 "Prevention of Infiltration Law" enacted after the Nakba to prevent Palestinian refugees from reuniting with their family members inside the newly created state of Israel. As Israeli human rights activist Leehee Rothschildwrote, "At the end of the day, the justification for both the 1954 Prevention of Infiltration Law as well was the new amendment is one and the same – the maintenance of the Jewish character of the State of Israel."
 
Last month, Israel began construction on what will be the world's largest detention center. Labeled by none other than Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin as a "concentration camp where people are warehoused,"the prison will sit in the Negev Desert on the grounds of what was once Ketziot Prison, a detention camp for Palestinian detainees staffed by the Atlantic Magazine's Jeffrey Goldberg. The new super-jail is being erected for the sole purpose of containing migrants and asylum seeking refugees fleeing from Africa.
 
Describing the desert prison as a "humanitarian solution," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu justified its construction on the grounds that African refugees threaten to "change[] the character of the state."

Comments

I live in this neighborhood in Tel Aviv and have lived in central urban areasin the US before: Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Boston, and the US's most segregated city, Milwaukee. This neighborhood that I share with the refugee and foreign worker population is far safer than the US and by a large factor. Sure, there is verbal harassment of women, no doubt. This is no worse than other areas of the region, however (*cough cough* Cairo). The neighborhood is actually VERY safe in my experience. Many Israelis like this security company scammer see black people and freak out. Their experience with black, Asian, and non-white non-Jews is so limited that they revert to images from US television or the nationalist fear everyone is raised on from a young age. What's going on here is not at all like the US.

Why is this neighborhood safe? The reason is that the level of oppression in this country is so high that I can walk around late at night in this neighborhood and if I shoot at a refugee, their attitude isn't "there is a white guy, let's get his stuff". Rather, people react with "I don't want problems, just let me get on with what I'm doing, I don't want problems". People are not confrontational and avoid messing with Israelis - as they have an experience with the inhumanity of their employers on a daily basis.

The gall of this security contractor is beyond the pale - attempting to victimize a helpless population that the country exploits. Why don't we go ahead and suggest his solution for the bankers in the US who are ACTUALLY threatening and harming the population of the world? I bet you'd hear cries of "Nazi nazi!" then. We all know who the real bad guys in this story are.

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