Opinion |

New Public Security Minister Has a Clear Message for Israel's Weakest Population

Vered Lee
Vered Lee
Ohana (center) and anti-asylum seeker activists, including Sheffi Paz (left), in south Tel Aviv, May 19, 2020.
Ohana (center) and anti-asylum seeker activists, including Sheffi Paz (left), in south Tel Aviv, May 19, 2020.Credit: Kareen Yusef
Vered Lee
Vered Lee

During the demonstration on May 15 whose purpose was to terrorize, a weekly event that takes place opposite the home of Supreme Court President Esther Hayut, Sheffi Paz, one of the leaders of activists lobbying to expel asylum seekers, incited against them as she always does:

“We will make Esther Hayut stand trial some day,” she threatened. “Those supporting the dictatorial government in Eritrea are the contemptible Supreme Court gang. They’re contemptible, they’re accursed, and I hope that she won’t remain here much longer,” she said.

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In a separate protest she defaced the door of the building in which former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak lives with stickers that read: “The Supreme Court – Jewish blood is cheap.”

One of Paz’s supporters tweeted on May 18:

“In a country with real justice, the residents of south Tel Aviv would sue [Mayor] Ron Huldai, and I fantasize that the following would be the outcome of the trial – Ron Huldai will be found guilty and executed by hanging.”

Sheffi Paz during a protest against asylum seekers in South Tel Aviv, October 27, 2019Credit: Ofer Vaknin

Moreover, two serious indictments were filed against Paz – one for defacing the offices of the European Union and spraying hate slogans, and one for spraying graffiti such as “Huldai is a terrorist” and “expulsion now” on buildings in Tel Aviv’s Levinsky Park and on the fence of an adjacent kindergarten.

The decision by Amir Ohana, the new public security minister, to meet with Paz and activists struggling to persuade the government to expel asylum seekers, and Ohana’s embrace of them before the cameras, symbolizes his embrace of incitement against the court, the trampling of the law and the abuse and bullying of the weak.

Since the fascist statement by then-Likud MK Miri Regev “the Sudanese are a cancer in our body,” and the racist statements of Eli Yishai when he was interior minister, politicians have learned to attack the existence of asylum seekers in order to win media attention and votes.

“The poor of your city come first,” claim the activists fighting asylum seekers, against those activists who see the refugees as human beings, to whom the country is obligated to grant basic human rights.

But on the ground, their incitement and persecution is also directed against drug addicted homeless people living in the streets.

They persecute and photograph them in embarrassing situations and disseminate these pictures on social media.

Why aren’t these activists fighting against the drug pushers? God forbid they should do that. Instead of seeking therapeutic solutions; they want to uproot every treatment center that helps the homeless and eject it from the neighborhood. Ohana embraces them, too.

In light of Ohana’s embrace, it is worth noting that Mutasim Ali, one of the leaders of the asylum seekers in Israel, who is now studying in the United States, was recently granted the Thelma Weaver Memorial Award at George Washington University, as a foreign graduate student ”who has contributed the most to the intellectual and professional life of the law school.”

Mutasim Ali speaks at a protest of support for asylum seekers at the Holot detention facility, February 2014. Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

In the reasons cited for granting the prize the university wrote that “Mutasim has been a light at this law school during his graduate studies. He has shown us what hope can look like in times of darkness and how to be resilient in the worst of times. We have all been greatly honored to meet him and are still learning from him.”

Ali is the first and only Sudanese citizen to receive refugee status in Israel.

The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, which has represented him in his legal battle, wrote: “Mutasim’s success illustrates what can happen when refugees receive the opportunity for status that they deserve, and what could happen if Israel were to examine the requests for asylum and grant refugee status to anyone who is eligible for it.”

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