|Haaretz photo by Daniel Bar-On|
When Yael Dayan, chair of the Tel Aviv city council, spoke at an event co-sponsored by Partners in New York City on June 3rd, she was somewhat reluctant to use the term “pogrom” (coined when mobs murdered many Jews in the waning decades of the Russian Empire) to characterize the violence against African asylum seekers who live in the Hatikva neighborhood of Tel Aviv. But it wasn’t for lack of concern over what was described by the Israeli collective of activist photographers, Active Stills, as “a racist mob [roaming] the streets chanting racist slogans, setting garbage on fire, attacking African shops & bars and hunting down Africans after a demonstration against African refugees and asylum seekers in Tel Aviv’s Hatikva neighborhood on May 23, 2012.”
… President Shimon Peres reminded us, “hatred of foreigners contradicts the foundations of Judaism.”
…. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the violence and the role of the public officials who were present, saying, “I want to make it clear that there is no place for the statements and acts that we witnessed yesterday.”Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin added, “When the masses are furious, public leaders must try to contain that anger and offer a solution, not to fan the flames. We must not use the same language anti-Semites use against us. We are a people that suffered a great deal of incitement and harassment, and we have an obligation to be extra sensitive and moral.”American Jewish groups spoke out as well, with the Anti-Defamation League saying, “We are disturbed by inflammatory public statements made by certain Israeli officials, some of which has veered into racism. These statements are counterproductive and only serve to further inflame tensions.”
… Mr. Netanyahu pledged to complete a 150-mile, 16-foot-tall steel fence now being erected in the desert along the Israeli-Egyptian border; to speed up construction of a detention facility able to hold up to 10,000 illegal immigrants; and to step up efforts to deport foreigners who may be legally repatriated to their home countries according to international conventions.Mr. Netanyahu intends to start repatriating several thousand South Sudanese people in Israel, but is awaiting approval from the Israeli Supreme Court, according to an official who was in the meeting.Under a new Israeli law, illegal entrants can be held in detention for up to three years….