“What we are doing to these asylum seekers is the most horrifying thing going on right now in Israel”
For several years now, I have been bothered by the fact that African migrants who are fleeing from terrible situations in their countries, and who have done nothing wrong, are being locked up. But only a few months ago, after reading books on nonviolent forms of protest – works by Martin Luther King, Jr, Gandhi, Tolstoy – did I decide to take action.The first time I went to Saharonim, I wanted to scout the place in view of organizing a protest. I took a few photographs, and was immediately detained by the prison’s guards. I cooperated, because I thought, good, I have succeeded in provoking them – even if I didn’t enjoy it, of course. I was taken to a police station, spent 24 hours in detention, and brought in front of a judge, who let me go. I soon went back, and was stopped again. A few others joined me, and we went back to Saharonim every few weeks and asked to be incarcerated there. Of course, the guards refused. We would start slowly walking toward the gates, and get arrested.Ido Naveh and friends being taken to a police station on October 3. Video courtesy of David Sheen.“I’m only alive today because a Polish, non-Jewish family hid my grandmother. So what right do I have not to help others in need today?”To me, what we are doing to these asylum seekers is the most horrifying thing going on right now in Israel. During the Holocaust, it was us, the Jews, that asked for asylum from other countries, and were refused it. Now, we’re doing the same thing. I’m only alive today because a Polish non-Jewish family hid my grandmother and her family. So what right do I have not to help others in need today?Naveh and friends being taken to a police station, once again, on November 25. Video courtesy of David Sheen.The Israeli government works hard to influence public opinion on African migrants. Many politicians [including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] use the term “infiltrator”, and try to paint refugees as a threat. Most people in Israel are falling for this trap. There is a minority of people here in Israel, but still a sizeable group, that care about this issue. The problem is, caring is not enough. We must make sacrifices. My sacrifice is to protest in a nonviolent manner and go to jail, as many times as it is necessary. I hope more people will join me, but I’ll continue either way.