What’s more, he is attacked, too, for siding with the migrants and speaking out about their plight.Watching from further afield, some have wondered how Israel — a nation of desperate, traumatised refugees — could be so unfeeling and closed to another set of desperate, traumatised refugees. That isn’t how it works.n creating a Jewish homeland, Israel’s founders sought both a refuge from and an erasure of the brutal history of Jewish persecution in Europe.One practice is to beat migrants while playing their screams to relatives back home, for money.When refugees from sub-Saharan Africa survive the trip to Israel, and the trauma that goes with it, they might end up functioning, working in menial jobs and living in overcrowded slums.An artist and designer, he arrived in Israel three years ago. You are not Jewish.” They tell him that Israel is for Jews; ‘not for me, not blacks. Too many times.’Before, the journeys of migrants from African countries used to stop in Egypt.‘Everyone still asks me, all the time, “Where are you from? But after Egyptian police killed 28 Sudanese asylum seekers on 30 December 2005 for demonstrating outside the UN refugee agency in Cairo, the migrants kept on going, into Israel.They wanted to do away with any idea of a scraping, craven, Diaspora Jew and replace it with a strong, confident, ‘new Jew’ belonging to this new nation.
In a nation numbering almost 8 million, there are some 1.6 million Palestinian citizens, who stayed in Israel after the 1948 war that created the nation. Meanwhile, the collapse of the Soviet Bloc in the early 1990s brought close to a million Russian Jews to Israel, though non-Russian Israelis sometimes moan that many of these are not ‘really’ Jewish.Rami Gudovitch, an Israeli activist who works with the refugees in south Tel Aviv, has described what he sees as ‘open, explicit and humiliating racism’.The attacks on refugee populations, he said, are ‘physical, verbal, brutal, serious, and endless’.It’s hard to shake off the image of them staring into space.On benches and dried-out grass in south Tel Aviv’s Levinsky Park, small rows of men and women sit in wide-eyed silence. Many of them don’t offer details of their journey into Israel: ‘It was terrible,’ they say, and then stop.