It never ceases to amaze me how some so-called leaders will use women’s issues to advance their own agendas that have nothing to do with women. The overtly racist statements coming from the Shas government minister Eli Yishai last week in light of a Tel Aviv rape case were particularly troubling.
When the police arrested four Sudanese and Eritrean men last week on suspicion of raping a woman in Tel Aviv, some Israelis took this as an opportunity to indict the entire community of refugees that is concentrated in South Tel Aviv. I listened in horror to radio interviews with Tel Aviv residents talking about “those people” who have “taken over” the otherwise “normal” Tel Aviv — using language that is painfully reminiscent of my Orthodox Brooklyn upbringing, when we were expressly taught to cross to the other side of the street if we saw black men walking in our direction. For these sentiments to be reinforced in the year 2012 by a government official is particularly troubling.
Yishai said, in response to the rape, “Most African migrants in Israel are involved in criminal activity and should be imprisoned and deported.” As if to say, all the black folks in Tel Aviv are really just rapists, thieves, murderers, whatever. These statements give legitimacy to racism and may lead to criminal acts, like those that took place recently against asylum seekers,” said Michal Pinchuk, director of the Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel (ASSAF). Indeed.