By Alexactus T. Kaure
THE Israeli regime seems to be on collision course with almost everyone in its path, of course, with a little help from big brother – the United States of America (USA).
Recently, 20 organisations were banned from entering Israel.
The iniquity they have committed is that they support the political rights of Palestinians and their quest for an independent Palestinian State.
One such organisation is the Palestinian chapter of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, the international campaign known as BDS. But the BDS campaign is easier said than done. Because Israel is the largest recipient of American financial and military aid and a number of other countries still have normal diplomatic, political and economic ties/relations with the State of Israel.
Thus many Palestinians, and those who support their struggle, have become increasingly despondent about the outlook for an independent Palestinian State, an aspiration that was further dashed after President Donald Trump took office and appointed aides, who clearly favour Israel’s position in the conflict and have recently made the most outrageous political blunder by declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This decision led to widespread demonstrations around the world. But not in sub-Saharan Africa, where people either do not understand the issues at stake or do not care at all.
Israel has also withdrawn from UNESCO and so did the USA, because this important UN body is critical of certain Israeli policies. President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have become good bedfellows, thus telling each other what to do the following day.
As an example, just weeks after Trump signed his usual executive orders, declaring that more than 200 000 Salvadorans living in the US, who came there after a devastating earthquake in their country, must now leave “his country” – the USA.
And suddenly, Netanyahu shocked everyone when he announced that thousands of African migrants (estimated at 35 000) will be forced out of Israel using a “carrot and stick” approach. Under the deportation plan, the migrants or “illegal infiltrators”, as Netanyahu calls them, will have two options to choose from. The first option is that each migrant will receive a plane ticket and a US$3 500 to return to their respective countries. Those who refuse to take that option will be arrested and put into those notorious Israeli jails, as Palestinians would testify. Those who want to leave have a deadline of March to do so. So you either go back to your country or you end up locked up in jail. The choices are thus cast in black and white and there is no grey area or a middle way.
Ideally, a third option would have allowed people to apply for refugee status, as per UN conventions and statues. Mind you, Israel is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention on the status of refugees.
The core principle is non-refoulement, which asserts that a refugee should not be returned to a country where they face serious threats to their life or freedom. Secondly, Israel prides itself as being the ‘only democratic’ country in the region. And yet Netanyahu and his regime are treating migrants in a Hitler-like manner.
There is an ironic twist in all these arrangements.
“Israel tacitly recognises that Sudanese and Eritreans cannot be returned to their ‘dangerous’ homelands. So it had signed deals with Rwanda and Uganda, which agreed to accept the departing migrants on condition they consent to such arrangements,” activists say.
This in turn begs the question as to why Israel itself cannot grant these migrants political asylum. Or is it a question of Africans must go back to an African country, because Israel is only for the Jewish people? Does this, then, imply that Netanyahu has a racist and xenophobic mindset, when making his immigration policies?
We have to understand that question from a broader context of Israel’s own origin. This is a country that was built on the basis of an exclusive ethno/racial group – every other person is an outsider. Take this scenario as being typical of the Israeli mentality about the ‘other’. When migrants arrive in Israel they are usually taken by bus to the south of Tel Aviv.
But residents of southern Tel Aviv have long complained about the presence of the migrants. And during a visit to the area last year, Netanyahu promised to “return south Tel Aviv to the citizens of Israel”, once the “illegal infiltrators” have been deported.
The way Israel is treating the migrants is reminiscent of the way it is treating Palestinians, both inside Israel and in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. What is Israel then? In 2014, the then US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said that Israel risked becoming “an apartheid State”, if a two-State solution to its conflict with the Palestinians was no found soon.
Critics argue that the idea of evoking the term “apartheid” to describe Israel’s treatment of Palestinians was not invented by Israel’s critics, but by Israel itself. And that is true. Because for decades, Israeli officials have employed the Hebrew term Hafrada (separation or segregation) to describe Israel’s governing policy in the West Bank and Gaza, and its attempts to separate the Palestinian population from both the Israeli population and the Jewish settlers population in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The controversy surrounding the issue of Israel as an apartheid State is not going to die out any time soon, because just few weeks ago, Turkish President Erdogan denounced Israel’s actions in Palestine as “racist” and reminiscent of apartheid in South Africa. Erdogan has even gone further to say that Israel is an occupier and a terrorist State, and I think all of us should support the Turkish president’s stance on this issue.
But at the end of the day it’s for the UN to help Israel find a formal and amicable solution, not only to the current African migrant crisis, but also to the broader Palestinian question – the most vexing issue of our time. How the UN will address that problem is a moot question, because last year the very world body dismissed a report that concluded that Israel was an apartheid State.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015