Stories from South Tel Aviv

Information, photographs, and art centered around the Eritrean, south Sudanese, and Darfuri refugees who fled trauma to live in Israel.
(Anna Meixler/chalk pastel)

(Anna Meixler/chalk pastel)

Recommendations

For readers of this blog:

  • Spread the word. Send it to people you know and talk about this issue with your friends, family, colleagues, and anyone who cares about Israel and human rights.
  • Stay informed about developments within the refugee community- check this blog and reliable Israeli news sources.
  • Support organizations working for change for asylum seekers in Israel, and lend them volunteer hands when you visit Israel:
  • 1. The African Refugee Development Center: http://www.ardc-israel.org
  • 2. The Hotline for Migrant Workers: http://www.hotline.org.il
  • 3. Assaf: http://www.assaf.org.il/en
  • 4. Physicians for Human Rights Israel: http://www.phr.org.il/default.asp?PageID=4
  • While in Israel, visit refugee neighborhoods to get a sense of this community’s problems and cultures. Attend asylum seeker demonstrations, and tell Israeli governmental figures what you envision Israel doing to help support and integrate its African refugees. 

For the state:

  • To create just and comprehensive asylum policy in partnership with Israel’s human rights organizations and asylum seeker communities, and create legislation that fully upholds Israel’s agreements at the 1951 Refugee Convention.
  • To create an efficient and fair procedure for determining refugee status.
  • To launch educational programming so refugees fully understand their rights in Israel and Israel’s governmental system and services.
  • To amend the Anti-Infiltration Law so that it does not effect asylum seekers.
  • To eliminate the arbitrary and indefinite detention of asylum seekers in the Negev and direct funds spent on maintaining detention facilities to new initiatives that provide social services to refugees to help them integrate into society.
  • To grant asylum seekers with ‘conditional release visas’ the right to work and access to State social services, medical care, and welfare funds.
  • To stop the incendiary anti-immigrant speeches and stop referring to asylum seekers as “infiltrators” and “labor migrants”, and to respond to media outlets that incorrectly label asylum seekers.
  • To launch campaigns to decriminalize asylum seekers and combat anti-immigrant propaganda. 
  • To ensure that IDF soldiers do not conduct Hot Returns.
  • To arrest any Bedouins in Israel involved in the money transfer connected to the kidnapping, torture, and exploitation of asylum seekers by other Bedouins in the Sinai.
  • To communicate with Egypt and collaborate to end the Bedouin trafficking and ransoming of asylum seekers in the Sinai.
  • To refrain from forcibly repatriating anyone unless the conditions in his/her country of origin are truly safe.

Israel’s Declaration of Independence: Forgotten Vows

"The State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice, and peace as envisioned by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture…"

I understand the anger around the neighborhood, but they are victimizing the victims.

—Yohannes Bayhu, as quoted in Ha’aretz.

We never imagined something like this. I’m afraid. We don’t know if it will continue. We don’t know who did this, but they must hate us very much.

Gabriel Barhan, 29, an asylum seeker from Eritrea, as quoted in Ha’aretz.

We are neighbors of the Sudanese and the Eritreans, and we live with them all year round in harmony, but it’s intolerable for one neighborhood to bear the burden of their absorption. The State of Israel decided they can come and stay here, so someone should see to it that they are distributed among everyone.

Orion Tzezana, a 30-year-old mother of two who has lived in Shapira for six years, as reported by Ha’aretz.

A political refugee in Israel speaks about the hardships she has faced.

Footage from an anti-African refugee rally that shows tensions between different groups of Israelis, divided over this issue.