In my prior two posts (here and here) I described the plight of African asylum seekers in Tel Aviv and how the Israeli government is not fulfilling its legal and ethical responsibility to protect their human rights. I explained how it’s not abiding by the stipulations in the 1951 United Nations Convention dealing with refugees that the first Israeli government helped develop. Instead, the current government has instituted draconian policies denying the vast majority of refugees the right to file for asylum while restricting their right to work and withholding material support. This is creating a humanitarian crisis on the streets of Tel Aviv. Hunger and hopelessness are spreading, which will affect not just the refugees themselves but will create social problems for the broader Israeli society.

In this column I will describe how the government has justified these policies by demonizing the asylum seekers and convincing the public that they are a threat to the country.

The Implications of the Words We Use

Until a few years ago, the Africans were referred to as refugees or asylum seekers. Although the government did very little for them, they were not vilified. That has now changed. Government ministers and Knesset members have begun a campaign of redefinition to call them “infiltrators,” a term that for many decades was used to describe armed Arab terrorists crossing the border from neighboring countries.

To read the rest of this post, go to http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/from-africa-to-tel-aviv-part-three-demonizing-asylum-seekers/

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