It’s taken me two days to figure out what is going on with the agreement Bibi Netanyahu made with the UN High Commission on Refugees. After announcing on Monday a deal to send Israel’s African refugees on to western countries, hours later he backtracked. It seems his rivals on the farther-right had seen an opening to attack him on the issue. The resentful residents of south Tel Aviv, forced to share their neighborhood with the ‘darker race,’ rose up in rebellion against the deal.
But why would they object to ridding their streets of what Miri Regev so ‘aptly’ called the ‘cancer in their midst?’ It made no sense…until I read today the fine print on the deal.
It would only rid Israel of half the ‘wretched refuse’ of Africa. 16,000 would go to Europe or Canada (no mention of the U.S. there, mr.-you-know-who would hear none of it, even to help his pal, Bibi).
But that left the other half. And there’s the rub. Those remaining 16,000 wouldn’t be fobbed off on anyone else. They would become the permanent problem of Israel and the seething racist neighbors of south Tel Aviv.
It didn’t matter to them that the African population would have been reduced from its height of 55,000 to a final count of 16,000. That was 16,000 too many according to the good folk of south Tel Aviv. They wanted none.
Their country was not made for Africans–or Arabs for that matter. It was made for Jews and only Jews. And don’t you forget it, Mr. Prime Minister. We poor Mizrahim made you and we can break you.
That’s why Bibi folded like a wet noodle. He knew Naftali Bennet was waiting like a wolf on the hillside for the first sign of weakness. Making deals with the hated UN would be just the sign of weakness he needed. Add to that, a prime minister waiting on tenterhooks for news of potential criminal indictments, and you have a perfect recipe for moral cowardice and vacillation.
So instead of telling the Israeli people he’d solved the African refugee crisis and looking the hero, Bibi looks the coward, brought to his knees by fear that a rival would score political points at his expense.
And the people of south Tel Aviv? How do they look? Like the pitiful, hateful, ungrateful, racist wretches they are. They cut off their noses to spite their face. So instead of cutting the African refugee population by half, they are left with no agreement at all. Nor can Israel return to the same sleazy arrangement they’d resorted to earlier of expelling the refugees stateless to Uganda and Rwanda.
Intrepid investigative journalists had traveled there to document the wretched conditions under which these expelees lived. The reporting so embarrassed those governments that they pulled the plug. Now Bibi has no place to put them but back in south Tel Aviv.
And he has the unmitigated chutzpah to blame Israeli human rights NGOs like New Israel Fund for betraying the nation (i.e. himself) by sabotaging the illegal arrangement Israel had with African dictators to dump the wretched refuse on their shores, rather than Israel’s.
But why did UNHCR offer to pull Israel’s irons out of the fire? Why do Israel a favor when it behaves so wretchedly? Why relieve it of a responsibility it has to these refugees under international law? Especially when the Israeli response is to slap you in the face for your trouble?