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Golda Meir Was First Israeli Leader to Expel African-(American) Refugees

golda meir black israelites

1971 letter to Golda Meir applauding her expulsion of Black Israelites.

The current furor in Israel about the “epidemic” of African refugees “flooding” the country is unfortunately not new.  Nor is the plan by the Netanyahu government to throw them into concentration camps or expel them.  In 1969, Black Israelites began to arrive in Israel from the U.S.  They claimed to be Jewish, but Israel’s rabbinical establishment rejected their claims.  This meant they could not become citizens.

Finally, the Golda Meir government in 1971 began the process of expelling them.  Over the years hundreds have been.  Though there is now an uneasy truce, with 5,000 currently living in Israel.  So Bibi learned this trick of turning a cold shoulder to Black refugees from a beloved leader of Israel’s Labor Party.  So much for Labor’s liberal Zionism.

Thanks to David Sheen, one of Israel’s foremost activists on behalf of the African refugee community.  He’s dug up this racist letter written to Golda Meir, after she’d expelled some of them.  There are more examples here.

Though the circumstances then were different than now, when there are 60,000 African refugees in Israel, these sentiments Golda preserved, even at that early period, are reflected precisely in current racist Israeli attitudes.  MKs rabble-rouse, calling Africans a cancer among the Israeli nation.  Not far at all from this calling them a “5th column.”

The American Jew who wrote this letter to the Israeli prime minister was little better than the Likud when it came to issues like these that threatened Israeli Jewish hegemony.  In fact, the racism reflected in this letter would be little different in tone or substance than the views of Meir Kahane.

On a related note, I reported here that Bibi Netanyahu, as late as 1989, demanded the expulsion of Israeli Palestinians for many of the same reasons Golda’s American Jewish interlocutors saw Blacks as “polluting Israel” and “bad” for it.

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{ 25 comments… add one }
  • Bob Mann June 11, 2013, 4:10 AM

    The African-Americans who moved to Israel were not refugees. Why do you identify them as such?

  • Yaffa Makonen June 11, 2013, 4:40 AM

    Your failed attempt at portraying my country as a racist anti-black apartheid state is laughable.

    I was born in Ethiopia to the Jewish community of Betha Israel. I am a proud black, Israeli, Jewish and secular woman. I served proudly in the Israeli military and today I’m a lawyer.

    Perhaps you should read something about operation Solomon and how hard Israel tried and succeeded at allowing our community to make Aliyah from Ethiopia. This was a very expensive ordeal – NO country in the world EVER spent so many resources on enabling immigrants from Africa.

    As to the muslim immigrants from Sudan – as you know Sudan is an enemy country of Israel. We have been treated very badly by the Sudanse on our journey from Ethiopa to Israel which I’m sure you know absolutely nothing about. They now infest my country, they commit crimes and they are linked with Jihadist groups. They are not refugees – they are here to make money and they are supported by people like you.

    If you wish to discuss history, lets talk about how YOUR country treated black people throughout the years and still does.

    You are a self hating jewish hyopcrite – bad things await you and you shall get your reward.

    -YM

    • Richard Silverstein June 11, 2013, 1:29 PM

      I doubt you are what you claim to be. If you can support your claims about your background I’d like to see any proof online of your identity. If you’re a lawyer I presume there is a website that features your name somewhere?

      This comment smacks of the hasbara machine. Everything about it fits the bill.

      As for Sudanese refugees, you are completely misinformed. Actually the level of crime among this community is LESS than among the Israeli Jewish population as a whole. As for jihadist groups, you can produce no evidence whatsoever of any such phenomenon among those who’ve come to Israel. In fact, I dare you to do so.

      As a supposed lawyer you will be familiar with the demand to produce evidence to support claims. You have produced nothing other than smears. I challenge you to support your claims. If you can’t we’ll know how much credence to put in them.

      It is typical of the hasbara mill to deflect criticism of Israel onto other countries which supposedly behaved worse than Israel, thereby disqualifying any criticism of Israel. Doesn’t work here. My country has a very clear and publicly accessible record of treatment of its African-American minority. And it’s current treatment of them is far better than Israel’s treatment of its various ethnic minorities.

      If you are Ethiopian, then you’ve bought into the old colonial ritual of divide and conquer: you as an Ethiopian are far superior to the later waves of immigration. You look down upon them as the filth & trash which once greeted Ethiopians when they were the latest immigrant wave in Israel. It’s sad & pathetic of you. That is, if you are who you say are.

      The last sentence of your comment is a pathetic promise or threat which isn’t worth the effort you put into writing it.

      • MarkyMark June 11, 2013, 1:45 PM

        You’re disgusting Richard. A real self-hating Jew, and a disgrace to the Jewish community.

        • Richard Silverstein June 11, 2013, 10:02 PM

          And you are banned. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

          • Karim June 15, 2013, 3:48 AM

            HI Richard,

            I’m just writing in support of what you do. I represent the silent majority of people who read your blog and appreciate your work. I;m just commenting to help balance out the hasbara brigades work.

          • Richard Silverstein June 15, 2013, 12:01 PM

            Thanks. But do maintain only one nickname for your comments. Otherwise it gets very confusing & others have even engaged in fraud in misusing multiple nicknames (not that you would).

        • The Mighty Cynic June 14, 2013, 11:38 AM

          Actually, he’s the one of the only one’s protecting the true Jewish interest. You are a political fanatic only pretending to be one.

  • paul June 11, 2013, 11:59 AM

    Wow Golda! that is some racist stuff… at this time israel had close ties with south africa right? now we know why.. ffs

  • paul June 11, 2013, 12:26 PM

    why did the rabbinical establishment reject thier claimes? Interesting enough this did not happen to Ethiopian jews… I wonder what Golda thought about them?

    • Yashuv June 11, 2013, 4:22 PM

      Paul,
      There was no claim to reject.
      The Black Hebrews of Dimona for the most part were from Chicago with some coming to Israel via Liberia.
      They did not claim to be Jews or the descendants of Jews but rather the direct descendants of the original Hebrews who according to them were black.

      They came on tourist visas and stayed. My first memory of them was a 4th of July concert in the Hebew University stadium in the summer of 1976. They had a great band.

      Over the years it was a cat and mouse game. They would try to smuggle in more followers and Israel Border police would try o stop them from entering the country. There were charges of Israeli racisicm so Israel never deported them en masse. The reality is they were a fringe cult originating in Chicago, came to Israel on tourist visas and overstayed their visas. Instructed other followers how to come to Israel without being caught at immigration ie come on a church pilgrimage group and not go home…..

      Ethiopian Jews is a whole different story..

  • The Mighty Cynic June 11, 2013, 2:02 PM

    One day you’ll admit there is no “liberal” version of Zionism. Only ethnic cleansing and committing yet another egregious and inhumane wrong to supposedly fix a right. Zionists like Herzl were open to re-establishing a homeland elsewhere. The problem here is the original sin of the Nakba. You cannot build apple orchards on a pile of manure. Sure, the manure might help grow the apples, but they also require nutrients and soil — a firm rooting. Without addressing this original sin, any actions taken in ignorance of it to further the sin are also inherently immoral and more appropriately assigned to a conservative form of ideology (preserving the status quo).

    The Jabotinksy plan makes clean that Zionism is ethnic cleansing. It is nothing short of that. Golda Meir was a cave ape — a low one even by fundamentalist standards.

    • Bob Mann June 11, 2013, 6:30 PM

      “Golda Meir was a cave ape” ??

      What does that even mean?

      • The Mighty Cynic June 12, 2013, 5:11 AM

        It’s a breed of species that never existed. Kind of like her synopsis of Palestinians.

    • Richard Silverstein June 11, 2013, 10:12 PM

      There are great sins or crimes in the histories of most nations. Israel is no different. That doesn’t excuse Israel’s particular sins. But those like you who argue that Israel’s sins are sui generis in their horror are simply wrong. And I do NOT appreciate the stupid slimy crack about Golda. I would never allow a commenter to say the same about Ayatollah Khamenei.

      I’ve determined that your next infraction will be your last here. Just so I can stay on top of your comments and review them before publication, you’re now moderated. Comments that don’t violate the rules will be published.

      • The Mighty Cynic June 12, 2013, 5:10 AM

        I don’t care if you denigrate anyone or anything — if they do something wrong: denigrate the action. If it’s a repeated behavior, denigrate the person. So long as it’s the truth, I agree with it. Even if the target is me.

        Golda Meir is responsible for the whole “Palestinians are a made up people” campaign, no?

        I agree with peaceful co-existence, the valuing of core values/traditions, but also societal/political assimilation. The golden rule is a good start.

  • dickerson3870 June 11, 2013, 8:52 PM

    RE: Thanks to David Sheen, one of Israel’s foremost activists on behalf of the African refugee community. He’s dug up this racist letter written to Golda Meir, after she’d expelled some of them. There are more examples here. ~ R.S.

    ONE OF THOSE EXAMPLES:

    Dear President of Israel: In tonight’s television we saw that Israel was expelling Black people women and children. Israel did the right thing. I’ve been driving a Tonical here in San Francisco over thirty-five years now and I’ve seen what the black people will do to destroy and destroy. . .
    . . . Now in San Francisco thirty years ago. There was only about fifteen thousand Blacks in a population of whites 800,000. In these years I have witnessed how they bring drugs to white women a long long time ago. These people destroy cities and people. Our population is down to 700,000 people and 300,000 are black. There is never an hour, night or day that black people don’t commit purse snatching, rape, robbery. I know because I’ve been robbed and when I saw thousands of photos of blacks, for only one year, my eyes were open also. . .
    . . . Oh yes I guess you now have read about school desegregation. White people all over the United States are upset over this. After bussing babies, and small children, out of their neighbors school, the black organization is now trying to prevent better education to bright school children. Israel should make a law, that when a black man commits any crime, he or she could be expelled to another country.
    Don’t wait or Israel will be sorry. My wife is Past President of Bnai Brith and now is Past President of Past Presidents of Bnai Brith. . .

    SOURCE – http://www.davidsheen.com/racism/letters.htm

  • Pat June 12, 2013, 3:51 AM

    Israels resentment for Black Africans has always been apparent in my lifetime. From them arming dueling sides in the Nigerian Civil War, to their involvment in the Congo or Sudan conflict and their support for the racist apartheid state of South Africa. The black man, the goyim is a mere pawn to be used by Israel for her strategic gains. It’s tragic because you would assume a people who had been persecuted for 1000s’ of years would have a common bond with African Americans and Sub Saharan Blacks.

    • Moses June 13, 2013, 5:17 PM

      Mr. Richard Silverstein,

      Does this comment of Pat not qualify as anti-semitism?

      Sincerely,

      Moses Sparkman

  • Rain June 13, 2013, 7:30 AM

    This is a letter sent from a private citizen to the government. Not sure how you can use an unsolicited letter like this as a basis for an article on Israeli beliefs on expelling african refugees. The Black Israelites were not refugees and the government acted on the basis that they were tourists who overstayed their visas. This letter is an interesting historical fact and not much more than that.

    There is enough real racism in Israel that we really don’t need poorly threaded together stories like this one trying to link completely unrelated incidents.

  • Moses June 13, 2013, 4:34 PM

    Your classification of this group as refugees is not accurate. They simply came from Chicago and overstayed their tourist visas. Furthermore the Black Hebrews are extremely hostile to mainstream Judaism. Why do you call their (partial) deportation as an unjust act, or classify them as “refugees”? It doesn’t make sense.

    Sincerely,

    Moses Sparkman

  • Moses June 15, 2013, 11:30 PM

    Mr. Silverstein,

    I was transmitted to this site via another site and checked this post. I do not understand why you have nit yet updated and corrected it. You refer to American tourists from Chicago as refugees. This makes no sense, and I do not understand why it has not yet been corrected.

    Looking forward to your continued research.

    Sincerely,

    Moses Sparkman

    • Richard Silverstein June 16, 2013, 2:25 AM

      @Moses: Read the comment rules and do NOT repeat comments. If you do you may lose your comment privileges.

  • Aaron October 20, 2013, 1:38 AM

    Great post. It seems that Meir’s line of thought is becoming all the more relevant at present time. I’m sure that you have seen this video making the rounds on the internet lately:
    http://youtu.be/dPxv4Aff3IA

    If you close your eyes and listen, substituting “white” for “Israeli” or “Jewish”, you have what sounds like Neo-Nazi rhetoric. Almost word for word you’d hear the same thing from groups such as Golden Dawn in Greece or the EDL in the UK.

    How does Ben-Ari not notice the resemblance? And how long before the rest of the world cannot help but condemn Israel due to these attitudes much like it would condemn a European country if a white supremacist group took power?

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