Israel’s “Chosen People” — for Deportation

“The Jews of Our Time?”: Israel’s Deportation of the South Sudanese”

Jul 11 2012 by Mimi Kirk, Jadaliyya
Salva Kiir, President of South Sudan. Image from Wikimedia Commons.Planeloads of South Sudanese refugees from Israel have been landing in South Sudan’s capital of Juba over the past few weeks. Many of them had been living in the poor neighborhoods of Hatikva and Shapira in southern Tel Aviv, working in such jobs as hotel chambermaids or waiters. Israel has justified the deportations with the explanation that because South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July 2011, the refugees can now return to their home country without fear. Their calls deliberately disregard ongoing violence between Sudan and South Sudan as well as aggression between rival South Sudanese groups.  The Interior Ministry announced that the South Sudanese would receive 1,250 US dollars if they returned voluntarily and would face arrest and expulsion if they refused.

Israel hosts approximately sixty thousand African refugees (termed “infiltrators” in Israeli parlance), mainly from Eritrea and Sudan. Most, fleeing violence and instability, have entered Israel through Egypt over the past five years. Israel is barred from deporting Eritrean or Sudanese refugees, as the United Nations has declared that doing so would put their lives in danger. Though South Sudan’s refugees constitute only a small fraction of African refugees in Israel, approximately seven hundred total or 0.1 percent of all refugees, the deportations have highlighted at least two noteworthy trends. The first is Israel’s resort to forcible and racially driven expulsions in an effort to retain its majority Jewish makeup. Second is the claim by some South Sudanese of a kind of essentialized religious, historical, and cultural affinity with Israel in order to foster a strategic bond.

Just prior to the deportations, xenophobic manifestations of Israel’s imperative to retain its Jewish majority were clear. At an anti-refugee demonstration in Hatikva on 24 May, Likud Member of Parliament Miri Regev stated from the stage, “The Sudanese are a cancer in our body.” A week later Israeli crowds chanted, “Deport the Sudanese” at a similar demonstration in Shapira. Other politicians have also added fuel to the fire. Interior Minister Eli Yishai recently claimed that African refugees were raping many Israeli women who “do not complain out of fear of being stigmatized as having contracted AIDS.” He recently added, “Israel belongs to the white man.” A number of South Sudanese arriving in Juba have described their recent treatment in Israel as brusque, marked by visa confiscations and arrests that barred them from clearing their Israeli bank accounts or receiving final paychecks.

Though it might not be obvious from these recent events, Israel has consistently supported southern Sudan, particularly during its first civil war with the north, and it was among the first countries to recognize South Sudan as a sovereign state last year. To Israel, South Sudan is another formerly-enslaved nation that escaped the clutches of Muslim violence and intolerance. In turn, it is often seen as “black” and “Christian” versus its “Arab” and “Muslim” neighbor to the north, though the makeup of Sudan and South Sudan is more complex than this simple division suggests. As the Sudanese academic and politician Francis Deng has consistently argued, the ideas of “racial, cultural and religious homogeneity…oversimplify and falsify a dynamic picture of pluralism [in Sudan/South Sudan].”

This simple dichotomy begets the powerful notion that South Sudan is an ally to Israel in a hostile part of the world, particularly in regard to Omar al-Bashir’s regime in Khartoum. Al-Bashir’s alliance with Iran and Hamas has particularly riled Israel, with Sudan serving as a way station for Iranian weapons en route to the Sinai Peninsula and ultimately to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. As Galia Sabar of the Department of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University recently said, “We have a phenomenal interest in South Sudan, a Christian country in the heart of an area of great importance to us.” South Sudan presents itself along similar lines. Salva Kiir, South Sudan’s president, visited Israel in December 2011 and made such remarks as: “We have shared values. We have waged similar struggles, and we will go hand-in-hand with Israel in order to strengthen and enhance bilateral relations.” In Juba, Israeli flags are prevalent, and one neighborhood goes by the name Hai Jerusalem (Long Live Jerusalem).

As a result of this perceived affinity, some Jewish, both American and Israeli, and South Sudanese leaders alike have registered shock at the deportations. Charles Jacobs, president of the American Anti-Slavery Group, wrote an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post that called the South Sudanese “a special people” deserving of special treatment. He recounted that many American Jews, upon learning years ago of how the Muslim north was oppressing and killing those in the south, “saw [them] as ‘the Jews of our time.’” “We should continue to treat them as the very special people they are,” he concluded, asking for the refugees to have “a bit more time” to make arrangements to return home.  Continue reading

Courts Expose Stop-and-Frisk as Racist, Unconstitutional NYPD Harassment Strategy

8 Important Facets of the Legal Decision

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

A US district judge has exposed the NYPD game as an illegal system of quotas and racial profiling imposed on field police from the top of the NYPD.

May 28, 2012  |

This month, a federal judge in New York dealt a blow to “stop-and-frisk,” a policy that resulted in 685,000 recorded police stops in 2011. Eighty-five percent of those stopped were African American and Latino, mostly youths.

US district judge Shira Scheindlin granted class-action certification to a stop-and-frisk lawsuit against the city of New York, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The plaintiffs allege that the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy regularly violates the Constitution by illegally stopping and searching scores of people belonging to a particular demographic — black and Latino. Pending the city’s appeal, the class-action ruling will put stop-and-frisk on trial.

Plaintiffs in Floyd et al. vs City of New York also argue that they were stopped by police who did not have the legally necessary “reasonable suspicion” that they had committed or were going to commit a crime. What’s more, the suit alleges, police often performed frisks, but not because they saw a bulge they suspected to be a weapon, another legal requirement.

In her written decision, Scheindlin said the alleged constitutional violations result not from the actions of rogue officers, but from a policy handed down from the very top. “The stop-and-frisk program is centralized and hierarchical,” said Scheindlin, “Those stops were made pursuant to a policy that is designed, implemented and monitored by the NYPD’s administration.” Continue reading