‘They Want To Break Our Spirits’: Israel Rolls Out New Tax Targeting African Migrants

African migrants Israel

African migrants chant slogans during a protest against Israeli government discrimination in Rabin’s square in Tel Aviv, Israel.

The Israeli government has amplified its offensive against people of color with a new law that financially blackmails African migrants into leaving the country.

Employers of Jews of Sudanese and Eritrean origins are now obliged to deduct 20 percent of their wages if they have temporary visas. The deductions are to be put into a fund, which can only be accessible after they leave the country.

While the Israeli interior ministry claims the new tax would “benefit” migrants and asylum seekers – referred to by politicians and media alike as “illegal infiltrators” – the migrants believe they are yet again being targeted as a result of systematic anti-blackness within the Israeli socio-political machine.

“They want to break our spirits,” Eritrean community organizer Teklit Michael told Reuters. He believes this is a calculated plan to force black Jews out of Israel.

 

Continued racism

Israel was founded in 1948, yet only welcomed black Jews into the country in the 1980s with an Ethiopian Jewish influx. Since then, the new arrivals have been subject to xenophobia, racism, police brutality and forced to live in marginalized areas of Israel, where social mobility is made significantly harder for them.

African migrants stands inside Holot detention center as others protest outside against the detention center near Ktsiot the Negev Desert in southern Israel, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

African refugees stand inside Holot detention center as others protest outside against the detention center near Ktsiot the Negev Desert in southern Israel, Monday, Feb. 17, 2014. (AP/Oded Balilty)

They have also been subject to biological aggression. The Israeli government pressured Ethiopian Jewish women to be injected with Depo Provera, a long-term birth control drug, in order for them not to reproduce. In some cases, women were only allowed into Israel if they took this drug, causing a government-engineered drop in black-Jewish birth rates in Israel.

Members of the Israeli Knesset in the current ruling party, Likud, have openly expressed their hatred towards black Jews. Miri Regev, the Israeli minister of culture and sport, referred to black Jews as a “cancer in the body of the nation” in 2012.

Soon after she made her remarks, Israelis were asked about her remarks in a poll, with 52 percent agreeing with her disturbing xenophobia.


© The New Arab

 

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