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Tel Aviv 2012–Berlin 1938

death to sudanese

Israeli pogromist, dragging on a fag, proclaims 'Death to Sudanese.'

Today, Israel moved one step closer to Nazi Germany circa 1938.  In Berlin, Nazis walked the streets terrorizing Jews, smashing windows, burning books and synagogues.  Today, in Tel Aviv’s poor Hatikva neighborhood, the cream of Israel’s political Übermenschen, Kahanists Michael Ben Ari, Itamar Ben Gvir and Baruch Marzel terrorized foreign workers who live there with mass violence and nothing less than a pogrom:

Hundreds of demonstrators assembled in…Hatikva…calling for the ousting of African migrant workers. Some people attacked Africans that passed by. Others smashed the windows of a grocery store serving the migrant worker community and looted it.

Another group of demonstrators stopped a shuttle taxi and searched for migrant workers among the passengers, while banging on the windows.

The crowd cried “The people want the Sudanese deported” and “infiltrators get out of our home.” Miri Regev, a Likud Knesset Member said that “the Sudanese were a cancer in our body.” 17 protesters were arrested.

The protesters expressed their dismay with the government’s dealings with the “problem” of asylum seekers, especially with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Some people carried signs in support of Interior Minister Eli Yishai who called for the expulsion of the asylum seekers earlier this week.

The march was organized by Knesset member Michael Ben Ari of the National Union party, along with far-right activists Itamar Ben-Gvir and Baruch Marzel, who runs a neighborhood security group in south Tel Aviv.

…One speaker…called for the establishment of a political party that will champion the expulsion of the migrants. “It’s not racism,” he insisted.

Jewish shop windows smashed in Nazi Germany

My friend, Israeli journalist, Haggai Matar was also assaulted during the festivities.  It shook him up considerably and he’s still getting his bearings.  Meanwhile, he’s written this blog post (Hebrew): On the Way to a Lynching.

Who are these refugees?  They’re from South Sudan, a nation still wracked by civil war and rapidly descending into chaos foisted upon it by the central Sudanese government.  This is the same government responsible for the genocide in Darfur.  Refugees, genocide, ethnic hatred: does it sound familiar?

Another element of this pogrom that is critical to grasp is that while it was initiated by the extreme Judeo-Nazi right wing, MKs from the governing Likud party (Danon, Regev, Tirosh and Levin) stepped in and took credit publicly for the event.  That’s the way creeping fascism works.  First the extreme stakes its claim within political discourse.  Then, the more mainstream parties step in to co-opt the radical right.  By then, the extreme becomes subsumed into the mainstream and transforms it into something truly hateful and ugly (roughly the way the Tea Party functions in American political discourse, though it hasn’t sponsored any pogroms yet).  Tonight, Tel Aviv, and by extension Israel, has become something truly hateful and ugly.

If you look at the statements of the “responsible” leaders of the country, you see them hopping on the bandwagon.  The Interior Minister Eli Yishai inveighs against the dirty Africans.  The Attorney General says he’s ready to provide legal support for mass deportations.  The prime minister, never one to harbor any sympathy for the downtrodden, whether Jewish or non-Jewish, will sacrifice these poor souls in half a heartbeat in return for political advantage.

This, of course is a recapitulation of the far-right, neo-Nazi message of many European parties like the English Defense League, Marie Le Pen’s National Front, etc.  It echoes Anders Breivik’s anti-immigrant manifesto penned before he murdered 77 Norwegian liberal youth.  I suppose it’s not surprising that there would be such a poisonous political movement developing inside Israel, which, after all, is not immune to the same venom infecting the European and American body politic.  But what IS surprising is how closely this echoes the historic tragedy of the Holocaust as it first manifested itself in 1930s Germany.  We too had our Jewish refugees who were scorned when they sought refuge on these shores.  Jewish history is replete with examples of similar persecution of Jews including the Crusades, the Inquisition, and various other expulsions.

Tel Aviv shop serving foreign workers with smashed window (Activestills.org)

I’m not predicting genocide in Israel against foreign workers.  But given Jewish history of the last century, you’d think that Jews, including Israelis would be more sensitive to repeating the horrors perpetrated on our ancestors then.

To be fair, there have been equally noxious manifestations of hate including  expulsions from Nigeria, Gabon, Angola and others.  But we’ve Jews have suffered this fate ourselves.  To perpetrate it against the weak and vulnerable of Tel Aviv is a true schandeh.  It is less than reassuring that Israel plans a similar mass expulsion of its own immigrants to soothe the raging beast of Israeli xenophobia.

In the shadows of the Occupation and Israel’s brutal treatment of the Palestinians, foreign workers are the Palestinians, the Niggers of Israel.  Like Palestinians, they have no legal status within Israel.  This renders them invisible, powerless and at the mercy of whoever wishes to exploit them.  The only difference between the two groups is that the foreign workers are within Israel’s body politic while Israel has succeeded in excluding Palestinians (to its mind) from the body politic.

{ 120 comments… add one }
  • Dana May 27, 2012, 1:09 PM


    I’ll have you know that most of protesters were of Mizrahi origin. But of course that would bbe inconceivable.

  • leena May 28, 2012, 12:05 PM

    Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira: Killing Non-Jewish Infants is Permitted

    How Humane these people are !!! I don’t think they belong to humanity to start with !!

  • leena May 30, 2012, 9:22 AM


    Israel fears “delegitimization” more than anything else. Behind the velvet curtain lies a state built on myths and narratives, protected only by a military behemoth, billions of dollars in US assistance and a lone UN Security Council veto. Nothing else stands between the state and its dismantlement. Without these three things, Israelis would not live in an en…tity that has come to be known as the “least safe place for Jews in the world.”

    Strip away the spin and the gloss, and you quickly realize that Israel doesn’t even have the basics of a normal state. After 64 years, it doesn’t have borders. After six decades, it has never been more isolated. Over half a century later, and it needs a gargantuan military just to stop Palestinians from walking home.

    -Sharmine Narwani-

    • mary June 1, 2012, 2:34 AM

      Leena, the question of whether Israel has the right to exist is pointless. It exists; to argue its legitimacy is nothing but argument for argument’s sake because whether it’s legitimate or not, Israel isn’t going away unless it eventually implodes from its own stupidity. Everything you’ve written has been said many times before, and there is no point in revisiting it.

      What needs to be fought for the sake of the Palestinians and others is the hideous racism and the blatant disregard for human rights. Once those issues are dealt with, then perhaps a one-state solution would be possible.

      • Average American July 31, 2012, 2:01 PM

        I am an outsider, but I have eyes to see. Leena and Mary are close to the truth. But the real truth is that Israelis, and I mean their own definition of Israelis, which means Only Jews, do not regard guest-workers or Palestinians or Americans or anyone non-Jewish as human. If you are not Jewish then you are sub-human, you are here only to do what is good for the Jews. And how can an animal have any rights? This is what halacha law teaches the Israelis, and people like Eli Yishai want halacha law to be the law of the land of Israel. To shoot a Palestinian, well that is like shooting a dog. To take the land of a Palestinian, well it’s Jewish land to start with anyway. If a guest worker gets pregnant in Israel, she must go back to her country, she deserves no medical attention here, she’s not even Jewish. If a guest worker wants to live in Israel, well that’s an impudent request that of course will be denied, lest more of her kind settle here and dilute the purity of the Jewish State. I’m not making this up, it’s in the news, it’s in Israeli news. Do you have eyes to see?

        • Richard Silverstein July 31, 2012, 2:14 PM

          Halacha does not teach Israelis that non-Jews are not human. That is a gross misstatement either betraying your ignorance or borderline anti-Semitism. Just as with Islamists who distort Islamic teachings there are Jews who distort Jewish teachings. It is a grave error to confuse the radical minority for an entire religious tradition.

          Aside from this, I agree with much of what you wrote above.

  • Miss Costello June 1, 2012, 3:04 AM

    “Then Costello comes on and challenges my comments”

    Ha! How dare she!!!

    “Costello”? What about ‘Miss’? Ill mannered oaf.

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