Thu Dec 27, 2012 7:38PM
For me it’s more than political reasons, it’s downright racism and anti-African prejudice and discrimination and I feel it has much deeper roots.”
An analyst says Israel’s discrimination of African Jews is not a matter of political reasons but indicates the ‘deep-rooted Anti-African racism and prejudice’ which is prevalent in the entity. In the background of this, Israel has been rounding up and deporting Jewish refugees of African descent since June 2012 and is now building one of the world’s largest refugee detention camps in the Negev desert. Israelis have said that some 60,000 people have come from the Sudan region in the past few years to immigrate into Israel which is just too many. Press TV in its Africa Today program has interviewed Esther Stanford-Xosei from the Pan African Reparations Coalition in Europe about this issue. Joining her is Femi Okutubo, Editor in Chief of the Trumpet Newspaper, and Richard Millett, journalist, both from London. The following is an approximate transcription of the interview. Press TV: Was I overegging there Esther when I said that 2012 will go down as a very significant year and a very bad year for Africans living in Israel? Stanford-Xosei: No, I mean I think you’re quite correct to state that because some of the public comments that we’ve heard from Israelis have been quite shocking and downright offensive. And so definitely this is a year that is quite significant for us as African people especially as we are preparing to go into the United Nations decade for people of African descent and when there should be a greater recognition on the plight of African peoples and the discrimination that we face. Press TV: Well, some very senior Israeli politicians like the Interior Minister and the leader of the Shas party Eli Yishay says this is only a small group of the infiltrators, he calls people who have been deported recently infiltrators, but I am not acting out of hatred of strangers but love of my people and to rescue the homeland. Do you understand what he is saying? Stanford-Xosei: No, I don’t because it’s based on a notion of Jewishness which is very exclusive; it’s based on a notion of Jewishness which is a historical [notion] and equates Jewishness with whiteness and there has also been comments about Israel being a white man’s land and this as I said is a very exclusive and a historical notion of Jewishness and it does not recognize the African ancestry of many of the indigenous peoples of that land and in fact Israel was once connected to the African continent. Press TV: Esther, your thoughts? Stanford-Xosei: For me it’s more than political reasons, it’s downright racism and anti-African prejudice and discrimination and I feel it has much deeper roots because if you look at those who are seeking refuge in Israel we have to look at the history of the peoples of those regions and our historical connection to that land. So yes whilst it’s recognized that modern nation states have the right to control entry if you like of people who can be defined as citizens of that nation and guests of that nation. What about the disposed Africans who would also say they have a rightful claim to that land and that’s not being factored into this conversation at all. Press TV: Esther, you’ve been to Israel about what eight or so times. Could you say why you go there and what you experience when you are there? Stanford-Xosei: Well, I go primarily to ground with our African brothers and sisters that are in that land. In particular there is a large community of Africans who have repatriated from North America and other parts of the African Diaspora on the basis of having an ancient birthright and claim to that land.... Press TV: Richard was very skeptical about that... Stanford-Xosei: It’s very well known; there is lots of information about them on the Israeli website; the African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem as they are known. I also go there to ground in terms of linking up with the African Diaspora in the so called Middle East which is really North Eastern Africa and so that’s why I’m saying we must pay greater attention to our historical ties to this land. Press TV: As you move around Israel, I don’t know how far you go, what kind of response do you get? How comfortable do you feel and have you noticed any change? Stanford-Xosei: I feel extremely uncomfortable entering the state of Israel because of the very very stringent security measures that are in place and have been in place for the duration of the time that I’ve been visiting there since 2002. Press TV: Well, that’s understandable given that there are some countries who want to drive it into the sea or obliterate it? Stanford-Xosei: That may very well be the case but then we have to look at, you know, the founding of Israel and what Israel represents today and why it has so many enemies. I don’t think we can just take this notion well the so-called Israelis have a right to that land and therefore they can act how they want to so called non-Jewish people. Press TV: Once you get through the airport and security, immigration control what happens then? Stanford-Xosei: Once I get through then it’s OK because I’m met by African people who have lived in that land now for over 40 years; many of them born in that land, indigenous speakers of the Hebrew language and so forth. However the entry into Israel and leaving Israel makes you often not want to ever return to that land again. It is an extremely hostile environment for anybody to enter Israel. VG/JR