Israeli Mayor Taped Saying 'It's Not Pleasant' to See 'Black Folks Drinking Beer on the Square'

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Eritrean migrants in Founders' Square, Petah Tikva.
Eritrean migrants in Founders' Square, Petah Tikva, January 2017.Credit: Moti Milrod

In comments about asylum seekers, the mayor of the Tel Aviv suburb of Petah Tikva has been recorded telling the local municipal parents' council that walking on his city's Founders' Square, "you see black folks drinking beer. It's not pleasant."

In the tape, published on the Hebrew-language Walla News website, Mayor Yitzhak Braverman is also heard saying that there are tens of thousands of foreign labor migrants in the country and Israel is not addressing the question of their status.

"Their share of criminals in Petah Tikva is small," he is also heard as saying, adding that most are in the city lawfully and "do no harm." Walla News reported that the mayor's comments followed friction between African migrants and more longstanding city residents.

A month and a half ago an asylum seeker is alleged to have broken into an apartment in the city and to have sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl while she was sleeping, the website noted.

Last December, two Israelis were charged with manslaughter in the death of a Sudanese national in Petah Tikva. They were accused of beating the man to death in five separate incidents over the course of 75 minutes.

The two beat the man, who allegedly smelled strongly of alcohol, after he approached a group of 16-year-old girls who were sitting near city hall, and began talking to them. The two were acquainted with the girls and allegedly continued to beat him even after he moved away from the girls.

Several weeks ago, Haaretz reported that the Israel Electric Corporation planned to cut power to dozens of apartments in Petah Tikva that mostly house asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan. Channel 10 reported that the move comes at the request of the Petah Tikva municipality and that Mayor Braverman hoped it will reduce the number of asylum-seekers in the city. Over the past several years the population of asylum seekers in the city has grown considerably because those released from the Holot holding facility in the south are forbidden to live and work in Tel Aviv.

At the time, Braverman told Haaretz: “There’s a phenomenon in Petah Tikva and in other cities of illegally dividing apartments, which constitutes a great danger and undercuts the quality of life of other residents, of the surrounding area, and also of those who live in [these apartments]. Many of these apartments, which don’t offer normal living conditions, become a draw for foreign workers in Petah Tikva. Part of our struggle is against these apartment owners who turn this into a business – they buy a number of apartments, divide them and charge outrageous rents for what they provide.”

Braverman is heard on the tape published by Walla site as saying that municipal authorities are trying to encourage asylum seekers who break the law to leave his city. "Just understand how complicated it is. First of all, you need to catch them."

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