Thursday, June 28, 2012

Ethiopia: Terrorism Law Used to Crush Free Speech | Human Rights Watch

This case shows that Ethiopia’s government will not tolerate even the mildest criticism. The use of draconian laws and trumped-up charges to crack down on free speech and peaceful dissent makes a mockery of the rule of law.
Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director

Nairobi) – Ethiopian high court on June 27, 2012, convicted 24 journalists, political opposition leaders, and others under Ethiopia’s deeply flawed anti-terrorism law, Human Rights Watch said today.

The Ethiopian government should immediately drop all politically motivated charges against the defendants and amend the law’s most pernicious provisions, which are being used to criminalize free expression and peaceful dissent, Human Rights Watch said.

In the third high-profile “terrorism” verdict in the past six months, Eskinder Nega Fenta, an independent journalist and blogger, was one of six journalists convicted under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation of 2009. Their sentencing is expected on July 13.

Eskinder Nega, who was recently honored with the prestigious PEN America press freedom award, is in detention in Addis Ababa, and was convicted of conspiracy to commit terrorist acts, which carries a sentence of 15 years to life imprisonment or death,as well as participation in a terrorist organization and treason. The other five journalists were convicted in absentia. A total of 11 journalists have been charged or convicted under the anti-terrorism law since December 2011, including two Swedish journalists who were arrested while trying to investigate the conflict in Ethiopia’s eastern Somali region.

“This case shows that Ethiopia’s government will not tolerate even the mildest criticism,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The use of draconian laws and trumped-up charges to crack down on free speech and peaceful dissent makes a mockery of the rule of law.”

Members of the political opposition were also among those convicted under the law on June 27.

Andualem Arage Wale and Nathnael Mekonnen Gebre Kidan, prominent members of Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ), a registered opposition political party, were found guilty of conspiracy to commit terrorist acts as well as participation in a terrorist organization and treason as was Kinfemichael Debebe Bereded, a member of the All Ethiopian Democratic Party (AEDP).

The convictions bring the total known number of individuals convicted of terrorism-related charges to 34, including 11 journalists, at least 4 opposition supporters and 19 others.

The anti-terrorism law’s most problematic provisions were used during this trial, Human Rights Watch said.

Two of the journalists tried in absentia, Mesfin Negash and Abiye Tekle Mariam, were convicted under the law’s article on support for terrorism, which contains a vague prohibition on “moral support.” This provision is contrary to the principle of legality, which requires that people be able to determine what acts would constitute a crime. Only journalists have been charged and convicted under this article.

All of the 24 defendants were initially charged with “terrorist acts.” Human Rights Watch has repeatedly raised concerns over the law’s broad definition of “terrorist acts,” which can be used to prosecute lawful, peaceful dissent. Similarly, all defendants were initially charged with “encouragement of terrorism,” which includes the publication of statements “likely to be understood as encouraging terrorist acts,” a provision that Human Rights Watch has warned could be used against government critics and journalists who even publish the names of organizations or individuals deemed to be terrorists.

“The Ethiopian government is using every means at its disposal to shut down press freedom,” Lefkow said. “Ethiopia’s international partners should immediately call for the release of the many journalists and opposition supporters unlawfully prosecuted, and for the revision of the law that put them behind bars.”

Ethiopian courts have little independence from the government. As in earlier terrorism trials, the trial of the 24 was marred by serious due process violations, Human Rights Watch said. The defendants had no access to legal counsel during almost two months of pre-trial detention and complaints of mistreatment and torture by defendants were not appropriately investigated.

Nathnael Mekonnen told the court that during his pre-trial detention he was tortured for 23 days, including being beaten, forced to stand for hours upon end, deprived of sleep, and having cold water repeatedly poured over him at the notorious Maekelawi facility. His complaints were not investigated. According to credible sources, Andualem Arage lodged a complaint after he was beaten by a convicted prisoner on February 15 in Kaliti prison, but his complaint was dismissed. The court prevented further questioning by defense attorneys and accepted as fact the response by the prison administrator that contradicted Andualem’s claims, without further investigation.

Furthermore, the Ethiopian authorities and government media have repeatedly undermined defendants’ presumption of innocence. In October 2011 Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told the Ethiopian parliament that the journalists and political opposition members arrested under the law were guilty of terrorism.

In late November state-run Ethiopian Television (ETV) broadcast a three-part program called “Akeldama” (“Land of Blood”) in which several of the defendants, including Andualem Arage and Nathnael Mekonnen, were filmed in detention, seemingly under duress, describing their alleged involvement in what the documentary brands a “terrorist plot.” Allegations were also made against Eskinder Nega. The court reportedly dismissed the complaints of due process violations against the defendants on the grounds that the video footage was not produced as evidence by the prosecutor.

The same court later charged the editor of the independent weekly newspaper Feteh, Temesghen Desalegn, of contempt of court for having among other things reproduced verbatim statements made by a defendant. The courts in Ethiopia have little independence from the government.

“The courts trying cases under the anti-terrorism law have repeatedly run roughshod over the rights of defendants,” Lefkow said. “Judicial independence has all but vanished in any politically sensitive case in Ethiopia.”

Friday, June 22, 2012

Ethiopia: Newspaper warns of gay ‘infestation’ -

A popular Ethiopian daily newspaper alleges the United States and Europe are plotting to export, spread and promote homosexuality in Ethiopia.
In an article published by Yenga daily, on the 18 June, homosexuality was described as rapidly-growing ‘infestation’ whose carriers are now ‘estimated’ to have reached 16,000.
The article said homosexuality was being spread from the WestThe paper also alleged that gays have an average of 75 sexual partners a year, and their ‘promiscuous’ nature propels some to have seven to nine sexual partners a day.
The article described how such ‘practices’ are being ‘exported’ into Ethiopia through students who receive scholarships to study in the United States and Europe. It further suggested that the millions of dollars spent on scholarships are really designed to spread the ‘culture’ of homosexuality whose ‘agents’ (i.e. graduate students) ‘recruit’ street children of 8-16 years of age.
Other agents conspiring to ‘spread’ homosexuality are apparently the United Nations, Embassies of European and North American countries, International NGO’s with their gay staff and tourists.
The paper reported that the national anti-homosexual conference that was held little over a week ago in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, demanded urgent measures be taken by the government, including the death penalty, in order to prevent the rapid ‘spread’ of homosexuality and the apparent consequential sexual abuse of young boys.
The article additionally demanded that the Ethiopian government block all pornographic sites because these factor in the spread of the ‘social evil’ identified by the conference.
Ethiopian LGBT activists have reported increasing levels of homophobia since the anti-homosexuality conference, including receiving death threats. The conference included the main religious leaders of Ethiopia, government officials, members of the Ethiopian Parliament, leaders of political parties, youth organizations and representatives from other civil societies called upon the Ethiopian government to take measures and resist international bodies in their attempt to ‘subvert’ Ethiopian traditions by ‘infesting’ the country with homosexuality.
An Ethiopian LGBT activist based in Addis Ababa who spoke anonymously said: ‘I am an activist working to address the health and social problems of LGBT people in Ethiopia. I’ve got no idea from where and how the article got such “statistics”.
‘I strongly disagree with this campaign which is a part of the local religious leaders in collaboration with homophobic religious organizations’ that we know are actually based in Sweden, United Kingdom and others countries… They want to incite the government and the society at large to further stigmatize, persecute and attack the LGBT community in Ethiopia.’

Saturday, June 16, 2012

New international war crimes prosecutor sworn in  |

The Associated Press
AMSTERDAM — The International Criminal Court installed Gambian war crimes lawyer Fatou Bensouda as its new prosecutor for a nine-year term on Friday.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo, left, speaks with new prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, right, after a swearing-in ceremony at The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, June 15, 2012. The ICC installed Gambian war crimes lawyer Fatou Bensouda as its new prosecutor for a nine-year term on Friday. Bensounda replaces Luis Moreno-Ocampo. She will be tasked with trying to bring to justice alleged war criminals including Uganda's Joseph Kony, Libya's Seif al-Islam Gadhafi and Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir. (AP Photo/Bas Czerwinski, Pool)
Gambian war crimes lawyer Fatou Bensouda, takes the oath during a swearing-in ceremony as its new prosecutor at The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, June 15, 2012. Bensounda replaces Luis Moreno-Ocampo. She will be tasked with trying to bring to justice alleged war criminals including Uganda's Joseph Kony, Libya's Seif al-Islam Gadhafi and Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir. (AP Photo/Bas Czerwinski, Pool)
Luis Moreno-Ocampo, left, listens, as new prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, right, is holding her first speech as new prosecutor after a swearing-in ceremony at The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, June 15, 2012. The ICC installed Gambian war crimes lawyer Fatou Bensouda as its new prosecutor for a nine-year term on Friday. Bensounda replaces Luis Moreno-Ocampo. She will be tasked with trying to bring to justice alleged war criminals including Uganda's Joseph Kony, Libya's Seif al-Islam Gadhafi and Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir. (AP Photo/Bas Czerwinski, Pool)
Bensounda replaces Luis Moreno-Ocampo in a job that has become one of the most prominent in international law over the past decade. She will be tasked with trying to bring to justice alleged war criminals, including Uganda's Joseph Kony, Libya's Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
In an address to the court, Bensouda said she was "humbled" by her appointment and promised to continue pursuing all cases that fall under the court's jurisdiction.
"As I speak, massive crimes continue to be committed in Darfur (Sudan); Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army's acts of violence continue unabated in central Africa," she said.
"Nothing short of arresting all those against whom warrants have been issued will ensure that justice is done for millions of victims of the crimes committed by these fugitives."
Court President Sang-Hyun Song oversaw Bensouda's acceptance of the prosecutor's duties in a courtroom in a suburb of the Hague, Netherlands.
The International Criminal Court was founded in 2002 as the permanent successor to numerous ad-hoc war crimes tribunals set up over the past two decades such as the U.N. Yugoslav tribunal and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
Bensouda has served as deputy prosecutor at the ICC since 2004.
In her address, she said that Moreno-Ocampo set up the prosecutor's office in 2003 with "two staff members ... six empty floors and no cases ongoing."
"I inherit a well-respected and sound functioning office, with almost 300 staff from 80 countries, seven situations under investigation, 14 cases before the chambers, seven preliminary examinations and one verdict."
In March, trial judges handed down the court's first conviction, that of Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga, for conscripting child soldiers. He awaits sentencing.
In an interview earlier this month, Bensouda responded to several criticisms frequently put forward against the prosecutor and the court, including that it is used as a political tool by Western powers and that all its current cases involve Africa.
"First of all, let me say that yes, I am an African and I am very proud of that," she said.
"But I am a prosecutor for 121 states parties," she said, referring to all the countries that endorse the court.
She said she would investigate any grave crime in any territory that falls under her jurisdiction, and the international court is bound to be criticized both when it intervenes in a conflict and when it doesn't.
When the court intervenes, as it did in indicting Sudan's al-Bashir and Ivory Coast's former President Laurence Gbagbo, it is accused of selective enforcement. But she said prosecutors must act on the basis of the evidence they have.
"Laurence Gbagbo is our first case" in Ivory Coast, she said. "There will be others."
She said the court is also blamed for failing to intervene, as in the U.S.-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and in Syria — areas where it has no jurisdiction.
"Syria is a case in point," she said. "It's not a member of the ICC, we do not have jurisdiction over Syria unless the U.N. Security Council were to refer Syria to us."
Asked whether she would lobby for countries that don't endorse the court, such as the U.S., to join it, she said that would be outside the scope of her job.
She said she was frustrated by the failure to capture Kony, who was indicted in 2005 . His case became broadly known in the U.S. earlier this year after the "Kony2012" video campaign by a human rights group became an Internet sensation.
But "Joseph Kony, even though we have not been able to arrest him all this while, I think the intervention of the ICC has contributed immensely to bringing peace to Northern Uganda," she said.
She said that countries that support the court have a duty to help it carry out arrests.
"The ICC doesn't have an intervention force," she said. "But the police of 121 member states are the police of the ICC. The armies of these countries are the armies of the ICC."
Moreno-Ocampo, who was present Friday for Bensouda's swearing-in, is expected to take a job with FIFA, the international football (soccer) governing body, investigating corruption in the sport.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Indian father accused of killing baby 'for being a girl' -

By Sara Sidner, CNN
June 14, 2012 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Watch this video

  • Indian man is accused of killing 3-month-old baby girl because he wanted a son
  • The United Nations says India is the most dangerous place to be a girl
  • It's common to abort female babies because boys are seen as 'better investments'
  • For every 1,000 boys 6 years and under, there are 914 girls -- the lowest ratio since 1947
Bangalore, India (CNN) -- Nineteen-year-old Reshma Banu sits on the stairs outside her parents' home, staring at the tiny screen on her cell phone.
The video on the screen has her mesmerized: a very short home video of her baby girl, Afreen.
The moments captured are precious because they show Banu's only child alive and well.
Afreen died in the hospital. She was three months old.
Authorities say the baby was admitted to the hospital with bite marks, cigarette burns and a dislocated neck. Police say she was killed by her father.
"After my delivery my husband had come to see me and the baby. He said, 'It is a girl, why did you give birth to a girl?'"

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He wanted a boy, an heir. Girls were too expensive, he said. A couple of days after giving birth, Banu says her husband gave an ultimatum.
"For her wedding we will require a hundred thousand rupees (about US$1,800 dollars) for all the expense. If you can get that amount from your mother, then keep her, but if you can't, then kill her," Banu recalled her husband as saying.
She didn't believe he meant it and was sure he would change his mind once he held his soft, bright-eyed baby girl.
Three months later, her baby is dead, and her husband is under arrest, accused of beating the baby to death. Police say he confessed to the killing.
This is by no means the first case of its kind in India. Attitudes, traditions, and economics have come together to make being a girl a dangerous prospect in the country, doctors say. Most of the time girls are disposed of long before they are born.
How? Sex-selective abortions.
India has a growing gender gap: The 2011 census showed that for every 1,000 boys six years or younger there were only 914 girls. It is the lowest child sex ratio since India's independence in 1947.
The United Nations has said India is the most dangerous place to be a girl. Dr. Anand Krishnan at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), who has studied the gender gap for years, agrees.
"Yes, largely this is from the point of view of mortality statistics for girls versus boys," Krishnan told CNN.
Sex-selective abortions are against the law in India but are still happening at an alarming rate, he said.
His study shows a surprising trend: Sex selective abortions among the educated and well-off seem to be more prevalent than among the desperately poor and uneducated. Despite greater prosperity, their mindsets have not changed and they have the money to pay for ultrasounds and abortions.
"A boy is seen as a better investment. They prefer boys," Krishnan said.
Girls are mostly aborted here. The people want more boys. There is a shortage of girls
The explanation goes something like this: In traditional Indian families the men marry and bring their bride home to live and take care of his parents.
Girls, on the other hand, marry and leave the home without providing extra financial support.
Moreover, a girl's family can go broke trying to pay a dowry to get her married. Although outlawed in India, dowries are still common and take different forms throughout society.
Indian law also forbids doctors to tell a couple the sex of their child after an ultrasound, but many clinics break the law and do so anyway.
India has made an effort across the country to stop female infanticide.
CNN visited a village in Haryana state with one of the worst ratios of boys to girls, according to the Indian government. A campaign is under way to change villagers' minds about girls.
Tiny placards above the doors of several homes say in Hindi: "If you get rid of your girls, where will you find your daughter-in-laws?"
A teenage boy wore a T-shirt that said, "Save our girls."
Nonetheless, there were young boys everywhere and only a few young girls. Villagers only affirmed why there appeared to be an imbalance.
She had just come into the world. She was like a flower bud, and he killed her. I lost my daughter. What can be worse than this?
Reshma Banu
"Girls are mostly aborted here. The people want more boys. There is a shortage of girls," Chandravati said without hesitation.
The villager was taking care of her neighbor's newborn baby girl. She cooed at the baby while blowing cigarette smoke into its tiny little face, oblivious to the dangers second-hand smoke could pose.
She told us the poorest people don't have the money to abort, so they are forced to keep girls, but those who can afford an ultrasound and abortion get rid of female fetuses.
"So much money is required to get them married. Where will the money come from?" she said. "Everything is so expensive these days."
But India is a country filled with in-your-face contradictions. When it comes to women and girls it is a place where the discarding of girls is juxtaposed with the fact that India has a female president and speaker of the House -- and its most powerful politician is a woman, Sonia Gandhi.
Indira Gandhi, Sonia's mother-in-law, became India's first woman prime minister and one of the world's first female heads of government.
In 2011 the latest census data showed the literacy rate for girls is growing faster than for boys.
Afreen was just three months old when she was killed by her father who had wanted his wife to give birth to a boy.
Afreen was just three months old when she was killed by her father who had wanted his wife to give birth to a boy.
Banu, whose husband is accused of killing their baby, and her parents say they always believed a baby -- boy or girl -- was a blessing.
Her mother, Maqbool Bi, had four girls and a boy. Though the family is poor, she raised her girls with great hope for their futures.
"With all that is there in my heart, my heart breaks every time I recall what happened [to my granddaughter]. Even when I was starving I raised my children, all four of them. I used to pray to God to save me from seeing any of my children die before my own eyes. My children should succeed in life. They should make us proud," she said.
Banu now lives with her parents in a tiny two-room home filled to a bursting point with family members.
She will spend her life struggling with the fact that she never got the chance to raise her first child because the baby was born a girl. With tears welling in her eyes, Banu said, "She had just come into the world. She was like a flower bud, and he killed her. I lost my daughter. What can be worse than this?"

Friday, June 8, 2012

10 Reasons Why Au Pairs Differ From Nannies Blog |

10 Reasons Why Au Pairs Differ From Nannies

Au pairs are often marketed to parents as cheap alternatives to nanny care, however the reality could not be further from the truth. While in some situations, like when parents need an extra set of hands or when older children need afterschool supervision, an au pair may be an appropriate child care choice, if you are looking for a childcare specialist to provide full-time care for your young child, an au pair typically isn’t it.
Here are 10 reasons why au pairs are not nanny replacements:
1. Au pairs enter the United States through a cultural exchange program. The primary reason au pairs enter the United States is to experience American life. The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Au Pair Exchange oversees the exchange program that provides J-1 visas to foreign nationals in exchange for providing child care for the children of host families.
2. Au pairs are foreign nationals who are between 18-26 years of age. Au pairs are young adults who may not have the life experience that a seasoned nanny may have.  When choosing an au pair, you have no option but to choose someone in this age range.
3. Au pairs can only stay a limited time with families. Unlike nannies, who may stay several years with the families that employ them, au pairs are only able to stay a maximum of two years. While they enter into the program for one year, they may extend their time in the U.S. for 6, 9 or 12 additional months.
4. Au pairs do not need to have significant child care experience. All au pairs must receive a minimum of 32 hours of training. Unlike with nannies, who often have extensive experience and/or training in early childhood development, these 32 hours could be the only child care related training or experience an au pair has ever had.
5. Au pairs can only work a maximum number of hours per week. Unlike nannies who can work as many hours as you agree to (although they must be compensated for each hour worked), au pairs can work a maximum of 10 hours per day and 45 hours per week.
6. Au pairs cannot provide unsupervised care for young babies. Au pairs are not placed in homes with babies 3 months of age or younger unless there is a parent or another responsible adult in the home supervising the au pair. Au pairs can, however, be placed with children aged 2 and under if they have200 hours of documented experience. In nanny experience, this would be equivalent to having only one month of child care experience.
7. Au pairs must enroll in academic programs (that you have to pay for). Not only must au pairs enroll in classes, as a host family you are responsible for paying up to $500 towards the fees of those classes. You must also ensure your au pair has the time off to attend the classes she enrolls in.
8. Au pairs must live with their host family. While parents have the option to hire a live-in or live-out nanny, au pairs must reside in the homes of their host families. The host families must provide a suitable room plus three meals per day for their au pair.  
9. Au pairs must have one complete weekend off each month. While you can ask your nanny to work every weekend as part of her agreement, when it comes to au pairs, you can’t. The program requirements state that au pairs must have one weekend, from Friday evening until Monday morning, off each month.
10. Au pairs must be included in family life. Since au pairs are in the United States to experience American life, their host families are expected to include them in meals, in holiday celebrations and in family outings. While your nanny will have her own life, your au pair may depend on you to create her life for her.
If you are looking for a mother’s helper or gap coverage for your child between the time when he gets home from school and you get home from work, an au pair could be a viable option for your family. However if you are looking for a childcare specialist with extensive experience to help you raise your children for the long haul, you’ll really need to consider hiring a nanny. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Paroxysm of Israeli immigration illegal immigration - The Daily Beast

Where the Racism Comes From - The Daily Beast: "by Lara Friedman "

'via Blog this'

Israeli paroxysm of racism and illegal immigration by Lara Friedman

The ugly reports keep rolling in. A rally against African migrants turns violent and arace riot ensues; the whole thing is repeated a week later. A Jewish-Israeli of Ethiopian descent is “mistaken” for a migrant and assaulted in Tel Aviv. A group of teenagers in Tel Aviv is arrested for a series of brutal, racially-motivated robberies and assaults targeting Africans.  A Sudanese man is viciously beaten in Tel Aviv. A Sudanese hotel worker is nearly lynched in Eilat. An apartment in Jerusalem is torched with 10 Eritreans trapped inside. 

It’s easy to tell ourselves that this paroxysm of racism is an aberrant phenomenon, linked to the socially and politically fraught challenges posed by illegal immigration. But that’s too easy. What’s happening is in no small measure a natural outgrowth of the intolerance that is an inevitable result of an occupation that this week enters its 46th year. 

A protestor holds a sign that reads ''Voluntary Racists'' in Hebrew, as Israeli Jews, mainly of Ethiopian origin, protest against racism and discrimination. (Jack Guez / AFP / Getty Images)

Two generations of Israelis have now been born into an Israel that must constantly justify the denial of rights and freedoms to Palestinians and the ever-growing settlement enterprise. Those justifications ring ever more hollow with each passing year, juxtaposed against Israeli policies that only perpetuate and deepen the occupation. They ring especially hollow at times like this past weekend, when Prime Minister Netanyahu declared that his government’s policy is to “defend and strengthen settlement” and laid out his audacious plan to reward settlers for breaking the law.    

As criticism of Israeli policies has mounted, it has given rise not to Israeli self-examination and a course-correction, but to a tribalist, circle-the-wagons mentality that is more pronounced than at any time in Israel's history. The ongoing assault against African refugees and migrants in Israel is just the latest symptom of this phenomenon. 

Previously, we have seen how anyone who challenges the occupation is attacked and dehumanized. Palestinian non-violent protest in all forms is branded a form of terrorism. Israelis working for peace, civil rights and human rights are incited againstand terrorized. IDF officers who try to carry out the law against settlers are attacked. Israeli politicians who defend the rule of law and democracy are threatened.

The convergence of right-wing nationalist zeal and racial intolerance is self-evident in what is happening today: The Israeli politicians who are leading the anti-African campaign are the same ones who are the loudest defenders of the settlers and the greatest aggressors against democratic values like free speech. They also hail, for the most part, from Netanyahu’s ruling coalition.

They include Likud MK Miri Regev, who called African migrants "a cancer in our body" and Likud MK Danny Danon, who declared, "Without delay and without mercy, all the infiltrators should be taken out of Israel" and "Some call it expulsion, I call it defending the homeland."

There is also National Union MK Michael Ben-Ari, who has called for Africans to be deported "for their own safety” and suggested that African children should not be allowed to sit in the same class with Israelis because “you don’t know what diseases they are carrying.” His colleague, National Union MK Arieh Eldad, suggested this past weekend that anyone crossing Israel’s borders illegally “should be shot” (he also noted that this wouldn’t be possible because “bleeding hearts groups will immediately begin to shriek and turn to the courts”). 

They also include Minister of Interior Eli Yishai (Shas), who said that “many women in Tel Aviv were raped and are now afraid to report so they won’t be seen as AIDS carriers.” He also said “Most of those people arriving here are Muslims who think the country doesn’t belong to us, the white man.” 

Most troublingly, they include Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has stated that the Africans are “threatening the fabric of Israeli society, its national security and its national identity” and that they could “lead to the eradication of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”  As violence against them has worsened, Netanyahu has made clear that he understands “the pain” of Israelis who are lashing out and has promised to swiftly deport or imprison the objects of their anger. 

These politicians have a clear and compelling message: these people are diseased and unclean; they will attack us and rape our women; they are an existential threat to our people and our way of life; they are an enemy that must be shown no mercy, and anyone who helps or defends them is likewise an enemy (one Kadima MK suggested that Israeli human rights activists who are aiding the migrants “should be imprisoned and transported to [prison] camps we are building”). This message is disturbingly reminiscent of the smears used against Jews in pre-Holocaust Europe and against black people in America's pre-civil rights era.  

The good news is that the emergence of the anti-African mob in Israel is not truly a sign of Israeli racism (which exists, as it does everywhere). The bad news is that it is evidence of the poisonous, zero-sum atmosphere in Israel today and the brutalization and coarsening of growing segments of Israeli society within it. Failure to recognize this painful reality is self-delusion and denial, and will only result in Israel sliding deeper down the slippery slope toward authoritarianism.