Anti-immigrant rallies are usually held in southern Tel Aviv, because that’s where most African immigrants live, near the central bus station where they first set foot in the city. On Tuesday, supporters of a far-right group, including a member of parliament, marched to the office of an organization that provides support to immigrants, which had closed early to avoid trouble.
There, people spoke with megaphones, calling for the deportation of all illegal African immigrants. They were whipped up into a frenzy. Some protesters started screaming at Africans who were just walking down the street, minding their own business. About a dozen African people gathered to watch from a distance, along with more liberal Israelis. But the protesters hurled insults and threats at them, so they left.
“Many people in Israel worry that Jewish people will one day become a minority of the population, and that they will once again become subject to persecution”
The next day was even worse. This time, hundreds of people gathered for a big anti-immigrant rally on the side of a highway, again in southern Tel Aviv. Since it wasn’t in the middle of the streets this time, so there weren’t many Africans around – in any case, most of them knew to stay indoors. Some anti-racist Israelis showed up, too – they were cursed, pushed around, and had their signs torn up. The same went for journalists or people filming the demonstration – I was shoved and hit by protesters. I left before it turned into a ‘pogrom’ [several media outlets, including the army’s radio, likened the riots to a pogrom].
Anti-immigrant anger is escalating in Israel, even in Tel Aviv, the country’s supposed “liberal” bastion. The problem is that we don’t have a regular immigrant population who can contribute to the economy and integrate – the government forbids these immigrants from working. Of course, they don’t have enough money, so some steal, and many become homeless.
Many people nevertheless worry that these immigrants will steal their jobs. And many people in Israel worry that Jewish people will one day become a minority of the population, and that they once again become subject to persecution. This is paranoid, in my opinion; African immigrants represent less than 1 percent of our population. But for some, there shouldn’t be any non-Jewish people in the country at all.
Orthodox leaders have fanned this belief in 2010 by issuing edicts saying that Jewish people should not rent property to non-Jewish people
. These are rabbis paid by the state! And many politicians are also fanning the flames by treating African immigrants as sub-human [most politicians refer to these immigrants as “infiltrators”; one member of parliament recently called them "the cancer of society.”]