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Saturday, 24 February 2018

Rejoice – The Witch is Dead – Crooked McNicol Rides No More

McNicol’s Departure is only the beginning of the campaign to democratise the Labour Party

Conference delegates let their voices be heard
Socialists inside and outside the Labour Party will undoubtedly be celebrating.  The Witch is Gone and this was a very very wicked witch at that, unlike those he persecuted.  The symbol of the decaying carcass of New Labour, with its undemocratic stitch-ups, its lies and manoeuvres and its contempt for ordinary people, has been effectively dismissed.  The man who put his hand into the electronic ballot box and fished out thousands of votes and who suspended people because they were suspected of voting for Corbyn, is on his way out.  This is the man who tried to prevent legal advice reaching the National Executive Committee and who did his damnedest to prevent Jeremy Corbyn restanding for Party leader.
Detested and loathed, McNicol is now headed for the knackers yard

Fraud was a 'private' matter
Barely a week ago McNicol was refusing to suspend Jeremy Newmark, the former Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement for having allegedly stolen tens of thousands of pounds from a Jewish charity.  In the last few days we have learnt that the JLM, which had been confident that Newmark hadn't trousered their funds, has now referred matters to the Police.  We can only assume that the JLM, which was swimming around in Israeli funds to help it destabilise the Labour Party, has also discovered that Newmark has trousered some of their ill gotten gains.  Yet McNicol refused to suspend his Zionist friend.
demonstration outside conference calling on McNicol to 
In a statement more revealing for what it didn't say than it did say, the JLM said that 'in order "to ensure full transparency, openness and to protect the integrity of the movement, we have referred certain internal financial matters to the police for investigation".

But to McNicol this was a 'private' matter and it was also 'historic'.  Whereas those suspended were accused of 'bringing the party into dispute' for all manner of misdemeanours no such charges were levied against someone who was alleged to have committed a major fraud.  Quite extraordinary even for McNicol.
Gormless and corrupt
The man responsible for the suspension and expulsion of, we understand, up to 11,000 members, has finally been told to go.  Skwawkbox claims that after a range of McNicol’s initiatives, including the premature deactivation of the entry passes to Labour’s Southside HQ of Corbyn and his team on General Election night, that McNicol was finally given his marching orders on Tuesday afternoon.  Presumably McNicol, having refused to give any help to Labour candidates in Tory marginals, because he too believed that Corbyn was headed for a devastating defeat, decided to bar Corbyn and his team from Southside in order effectively to stimulate a movement leading to his overthrow and dismissal.
McNicol explains why he refused to suspend Newmark
I shall be demanding my own reinstatement, having been expelled only last Sunday, since my original suspension was clearly unlawful and unconstitutional. For 23 months I was suspended, since March 18th 2016.  Yet the skeleton argument of the Labour Party’s barrister, Thomas Ogg conceded that:

All of the charges relate to conduct after Mr Greenstein's suspension from the Labour Party on 18 March 2016. Mr Greenstein does not appear to have moderated his abusive conduct online in any way . The NCC should infer that Mr Greenstein is not a person who will respond to any lesser sanction than expulsion by improving his behaviour. The only question is whether Mr Greenstein, given his past behaviour and his unrepentant stance in respect of that behaviour as regards the future, should be permitted to continue to be a member of the Labour Party or not. (paragraph 102)

However it would be premature to celebrate too soon.  In every Labour Party  regional office in the country there are ensconced those who did McNicol’s dirty work, suspending socialists and fixing and controlling elections and putting dissident parties into ‘special measures’ - all to ensure that the elected representatives of the Labour Party were from the Right of the party.
Labour apparatchik Karen Buckingham refused to investigate the lies of the Right in Brighton

Labour Party staff have worked overtime in order to ensure that the party remained undemocratic.  Wallasey Labour Party was suspended when it made it clear that it wanted to support Jeremy Corbyn over its own imposed MP, Angela Eagle.  Brighton and Hove District Labour Party was suspended when we voted the ‘wrong way’ by a 2-1 majority at the AGM on July 9th 2016.  Naked lies of spitting were told by the Council leader Warren Morgan and Cllr. Emma Daniels and the Labour Party inquiry conducted by Katherine Buckingham refused even to look at video evidence of the ‘spitting’.  All of this must stop.  All those auto-excluded or expelled like myself, must be readmitted to the Labour Party.

We should celebrate but there is much work to be done in clearing out the Red Tories in Labour’s bureaucracy.

Below is a statement from Labour Against the Witchhunt.  Now is the time to join LAW and make sure that we consolidate tonight’s achievement and reverse McNicol’s expulsions and suspensions.

Tony Greenstein 

LAW welcomes the resignation of Iain McNicol

Labour Against the Witchhunt welcomes the resignation of Labour Party general secretary Iain McNicol. He was directly in charge of the unelected and discredited compliance unit, which has purged thousands of pro-Corbyn members from the party.

We see his resignation very much as an important symbol and an integral part of our fight to radically transform the Labour Party, which is undergoing a long overdue Democracy Review, to which we have also contributed.

The automatic and instant expulsions and suspensions overseen by McNicol – especially those based on alleged anti-Semitism and those based on members’ alleged “support for other organisations” using rule 2.1.4.B – have brought the party into disrepute: They have prevented and discouraged new members from getting involved in party life, while valuable resources have been wasted in persecuting some of the most energetic and effective campaigners for social change. The purging of pro-Corbyn activists has been a major stumbling block to Labour winning a general election, which requires maximum unity.

We ask the NEC – which now has a strong majority supporting the leader of the party - to implement the following changes urgently:
  • the recommendations of the Chakrabarti report dealing with the party’s disciplinary procedure based on natural justice and due process should be brought in;
  • all those summarily expelled or suspended without due process should be immediately reinstated;
  • an accused member should be given all the evidence submitted against them and be regarded as innocent until proven guilty;
  • membership rights should not be removed until disciplinary procedures have been completed;
  • disciplinary procedures should include consultation with the member’s CLP and Branch;
  • disciplinary procedures should be time limited. Charges not resolved within three months should be automatically dropped;
  • the first part of Rule 2. 1. 4. B (‘Exclusions’) should be deleted: it currently bars from Labour Party membership anybody who “joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the Party”;
  • the party should reject the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism which, in its list of examples, conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and support for the rights of the Palestinian people;
  • the party should immediately abolish the ‘compliance/disputes unit’. Disciplinary decisions should be taken by elected bodies, not paid officials.
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The Holocaust Lies of Gilad Atzmon the anti-Semitic Jazzman

Why Atzmon plays fast and loose with Truth, History and Integrity

For those who want an acquaintance with Atzmon, you could do worse than consult my (now out of date) Guide to the Sayings of Gilad Atzmon.  Atzmon it should be explained was a famous jazz musician, having won the BBC jazz record of the year in 2003 with ‘Exile’.

It was, as lies go, only a little lie.  I asserted, on Atzmon’s Facebook page, that he was a Holocaust denier, citing his article Truth, History and Integrity. Quick as a flash Atzmon came back.  This was, yet one more false assertion, by me, his Jewish persecutor. Atzmon referred me to a statement he made at the Babylon, Theatre, Berlin of 14.12.17.

‘Tony Greenstein in case you didn’t know, Truth History and Integrity was integrated into The Wandering Who’ [his book].  Atzmon could not help but boast that ‘it was translated and published in every European language, including German.. If the text above was suggesting H denial the book would ve been banned and i would be arrested.’ As things stand I hold a post in Germany and I visit the country regularly! I am proud of my take on History above and repeated it last month in a massive marxist gathering in Berlin... enjoy yourself.’ 

Atzmon did not say what kind of post he holds in Germany.  I assume it is a wooden post as I cannot believe academic standards have fallen that low. 

And at first sight it would appear that the passage below, from his book, is not a holocaust denial narrative, despite the suggestive passage that 'we must be entitled to ask questions' concerning Auschwitz.  What questions I wonder?

However it is yet one more Atzmon lie.  The book deliberately omits the passage I have bordered below in black from the original article.  No doubt it was with things like his visits to Germany in mind that he omitted this passage which makes it crystal clear that he doesn't accept the holocaust 'narrative' as he terms it.  In the article, but not the book, he says that the 'Holocaust narrative, in its current form, doesn't make any historical sense.'  He goes on to explain at the end of the omitted passage that 'I am left puzzled here, if the Nazis ran a death factory in Auschwitz-Birkenau, why would the Jewish prisoners join them at the end of the war.'  (my emphasis) The only conclusion to draw from the passage is that Auschwitz-Birkenau was not a death factory.  In short

the section of the book entitled Truth History and Integrity deliberately omits the section of the original article surrounded by a Black border below

The original Truth History and Integrity - the part surrounded by a Black border was not integrated into the book The Wandering Who?
I have, over the past decade, posted numerous articles about Atzmon, an Israeli born Zionist who masquerades as a supporter of the Palestinians. This blog owes its formation to Atzmon.  In June 2005 Atzmon was invited by the Socialist Workers Party to give a talk on Otto Weininger, a German Jewish fascist, at Bookmarx.  It was said that Hitler had joked that ‘I only knew one good Jew and he killed himself’!  Attending the talk was one Ian Donovan, now of Socialist Fight. 

After refusing our request to cancel the talk, Jews Against Zionism organised a successful picket of the meeting.  We received the support of Professors Moshe Machover, Hilary and Stephen Rose – all of whom had made regular appearances till then at the SWP’s annual Marxism event. 
Paul Eisen writes on the DYR site arguing that historical evidence suggests there was no Holocaust
It was about two years previously that a group of anti-Semites, who professed to support the Palestinians, had gathered in a group called Deir Yassin Remembered [DYR].  DYR had started off as a Palestine solidarity group which was committed to preserving the memory of the notorious massacre of the villagers of Deir Yassin in April 1948 by the Zionist terrorist groups Lehi and Irgun. 

What supporter of Palestine didn’t want to support such a group?  It held annual concerts and the money helped pay for a scholarship for a Palestinian student.  It was or so it seemed, a most worthy cause. 

DYR took in a number of otherwise wholly reputable individuals who sympathised with the Palestinians.  MPs such as Jeremy Corbyn and Gerald Kaufman attended their concerts.  It had the support of a number of anti-Zionist Israeli Jews such as Michel Warshawsky, Jeff Halper, Ilan Pappe and Lea Tsemel.  However when the group decided to invite Israel Shamir onto its board people began to resign.  

The statement of Jeff Halper explaining why he left the DYR Board, shortly after Shamir joined it, is instructive.  In July 2005, shortly after JAZ had picketed the SWP’s meeting with Atzmon, two prominent Israeli anti-Zionists – Michel Warshawski and Lea Tsemel, also resigned.  Lea’s name is still on the Board of Advisors to this day

DYR had a solution to these resignations.  It simply refused to delete their names from the web site so you will still see some of their names on it over a decade after their resignation.  As Gabriel Ash remarkedThe Deir Yassin Remembered board is like Hotel California, you can check in any time you like, but you can never leave.’

Its British representative and Director was Paul Eisen, who later surfaced when false allegations of anti-Semitism were made against Jeremy Corbyn.

Shamir was first called out for his Jew hatred by Abunimah and Hussein Ibish in Serious Concerns About Israel Shamir.  The article is no longer on the Internet though Shamir’s reply is. (I have now reposted it)

Shamir has now all but disappeared publicly. You can get a taste of his politics in Who Needs Holocaust? In a dialogue with Atzmon, who at this time was not a holocaust denier, Shamir decries the idea that Auschwitz was an extermination camp.  This was merely:

Another go of Zionist propaganda. The camp was perceived as an internment facility, attended by the Red Cross ...  If it were bombed, the internees would die – or as a result of the bombing, or due to starvation for the supplies would not arrive. Indeed, would Gilad advise to bomb Guantanamo? This idea of “bombing Auschwitz” makes sense only if one accepts the vision of “industrial extermination factory”, and it was formed only well after the war.

DYR is a classical example of a false flag organisation. Set up for one purpose but fulfilling another. When it was approached in 2014 to support the Boycott of Idan Raichel, a prominent supporter of Zionism and Israel’s military the Deir Yassin Remembered Board labelled the Raichel boycott campaign “gatekeeping”, describing it as ‘a tactic used often by Zionists and by people like Ali Abunimah. Hence we would oppose DYR gatekeeping anyone, including this fellow.‘’  [BDS Attacked by the Deir Yassin Remembered

I first came into contact with Atzmon after he had penned an article The Protocols of the Elders Of London, the name being a take on the famous anti-Semitic forgery the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.  It attacks all those associated with Jews Against Zionism as ‘undercover Zionist agents’.

In ‘On Anti-Semitism’ Atzmon explained concerning the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, which were described by Norman Cohn as a ‘Warrant for Genocide’ that: 

‘American Jewry makes any debate on whether the 'Protocols of the elder of Zion' are an authentic document or rather a forgery irrelevant. American Jews (in fact Zionists) do control the world.’

In Mein Kampf [174] Hitler wrote that ‘With groans and moan, the Frankfurter Zeitung repeats again and again that these are forgeries.   This alone is evidence in favour of their authenticity.  

To Atzmon it is irrelevant if the Protocols are a forgery, because they are true, whereas for Hitler are ‘authentic’ precisely because they are true!  A distinction without a difference.

When I first corresponded with Atzmon after reading The Protocols of the Elders of London’ I took Atzmon to task for his having distributed an article by Paul Eisen, the British Director of DYR, entitled Holocaust Wars. It was a full-fledged defence of Ernst Zundel, a holocaust denier who was later imprisoned for 5 years in Germany for incitement to racial hatred. Atzmon responded to my criticism by saying

True I circulated Paul Eisen's paper. I do believe that argumentative texts must be circulated as widely as possible.... Furthermore, Let me assure you that if I ever see a great text written by yourself I ll be the first to circulate it.’  This is a book, one of whose subtitles is The Hitler we loved and why…’ in which Eisen explains that ‘Millions of Germans loved Hitler who for twelve years impacted on them as no German has or probably ever will, and, though they never say so, must, deep down still cherish his memory.’  It is a full throated defence of Holocaust denial  (my emphasis)

In the same correspondence Atzmon told me that ‘I regard Shamir as a unique and  advanced thinker.’

According to Atzmon I had falsely accused him of being a holocaust denier in ‘Truth, History and Integrity’ an article incorporated into his book, a book which was translated in German.  So I decided to investigate whether what Atzmon said was true and I had been maligning this noble, truthful figure. 

I first went to Atzmon’s original essay ‘Truth, History and Integrity’: In the section ‘It doesn’t make sense’, the ‘it’ being the Holocaust, Atzmon wrote:

It took me years to accept that the Holocaust narrative, in its current form, doesn’t make any historical sense. Here is just one little anecdote to elaborate on:

If, for instance, the Nazis wanted the Jews out of their Reich... or even dead, as the Zionist narrative insists, how come they marched hundreds of thousands of them back into the Reich at the end of the war? I have been concerned with this simple question for more than a while. I eventually launched into an historical research of the topic and happened to learn from Israeli holocaust historian professor Israel Gutman that Jewish prisoners actually joined the march voluntarily. Here is a testimony taken from Gutman’s book

"One of my friends and relatives in the camp came to me on the night of the evacuation and offered a common hiding place somewhere on the way from the camp to the factory. …The intention was to leave the camp with one of the convoys and to escape near the gate, using the darkness we thought to go a little far from the camp. The temptation was very strong. And yet, after I considered it all  I then decided to join (the march) with all the other inmates and to share their fate " (Israel Gutman [editor], People and Ashes: Book Auschwitz - Birkenau, Merhavia 1957). 

I am left puzzled here, if the Nazis ran a death factory in Auschwitz-Birkenau, why would the Jewish prisoners join them at the end of the war? Why didn’t the Jews wait for their Red liberators?

I think that 65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we must be entitled to start to ask the necessary questions. We should ask for some conclusive historical evidence and arguments rather than follow a religious narrative that is sustained by political pressure and laws. We should strip the holocaust of its Judeo-centric exceptional status and treat it as an historical chapter that belongs to a certain time and place

I then went to my copy of Atzmon’s book ‘The Wandering Who’ and turned to page 175 and what did I discover?  The first four paragraphs above had been omitted!  If Truth, History and Integrity had been ‘integrated’ into his book Atzmon had taken care not to integrate the very paragraphs in which he cast doubt on the Holocaust!  Presumably because, as he says, he didn’t want to get arrested in Germany. 

However Ian Donovan of Socialist Fight described ‘Greenstein’s campaign between 2005 and 2010’ as an attempt ‘to witchhunt the Socialist Workers Party for hosting Atzmon’s gigs, and maintaining a fraternal dialogue with him, before they finally capitulated.’
Gilad Atzmon can claim some originality in distinguishing between Marxism and 'Jewish Marxism' given that Marx was Jewish
Donovan and Gerry Downing seriously believe that it is the job of socialists to maintain ‘a fraternal dialogue’ with someone who when not denying the Holocaust justifies it. Someone who states, in Tribal Marxism for Dummies that there is a distinction to be made between Marxism and what he calls ‘Jewish Marxism’ which is very different from Marxism or socialism in general. While Marxism is a universal paradigm, its Jewish version is very different.’

Atzmon detests, like Donovan himself, the Jewish Bund. In Swindler’s List he states that Bundists believe that instead of robbing Palestinians we should all get together and rob who is considered to be the rich, the wealthy and the strong in the name of working class revolution.’

In reality Socialist Fight are now acting as little more than ‘left’ apologists for Atzmon.  See Why the Steering Committee are proposing that Socialist Fight [SF] should be excluded from Labour Against the Witch-hunt  see also

Friday, 23 February 2018

“Better a prison in Israel than dying on the way” – Israel’s Shameful War on its African Refugees

Even Alan Dershowitz, Israeli apologist supreme, says that the Deportations have ‘a whiff of racism’ about them

 Testimonies of refugees who left Israel for Rwanda and Uganda and received protection in Europe”

The proposed expulsion of Israel’s Black African refugees is proving highly embarrassing to the Zionists & Israeli apologists.  It demonstrates like little else the inherent racism in the ‘Jewish’ state.  It is impossible to argue that the refugees are a ‘security threat’ or the other excuses which are applied to the Palestinians.  

The only reason for the deportations is, as Netanyahu and the Right freely admit, because they are not Jewish.  Added to that they are not White.  Whereas one-third of the million Russian immigrants who came in the 1980’s weren’t Jewish they were at least White.

As Jonathan Freedland, the archetypal ‘liberal’ Zionist has been forced to admit, in an article Benjamin Netanyahu’s appalling betrayal of Jewish values,

the desire to be rid of these African newcomers has been mired in plain racism from the start. Recall that, in 2012, Likud’s Miri Regev, now the culture minister, referred to them as a “cancer.” She eventually apologised for the comparison — to people living with cancer.’

Of course Freedland is unable to make the connection between this 'plain racism' and the equally plain racism that pervades every aspect of Israeli society and the Zionist ideology that lies behind it.
African migrants protest outside Supreme Court
Freedland quoted the testimony of Emanuel Yemani, an Eritrean refugee who described his conversation with an Israeli immigration official. He was told that

“soon we’ll deport all of you, and you’ll sit under a tree, open your mouth and wait for a banana to fall, like a monkey.”
“But I’m a human being, not a monkey,” Yemani answered.
“Don’t you see yourselves, that you look like monkeys?” the official replied.

This is the sentiment that drives the expulsion of Israel’s African refugees.  But whereas such views are confined to the fascist margins of Western society , in Israel they are centre stage.  
Netanyahu was quite clear that the refugees pose a threat to Jewish identity. In May 2012 he told Israel’s cabinet meeting that:  
"If we don't stop their entry, the problem that currently stands at 60,000 could grow to 600,000, and that threatens our existence as a Jewish and democratic state. This phenomenon is very grave and threatens the social fabric of society, our national security and our national identity."
African refugees in Israel

By his logic, Netanyahu is correct.  Because what is a Jewish state other than a state with a Jewish demographic majority?  Contrary to nationalist myths, states do not have an ‘identity’ or values.  That is why the ‘British values’ that lie behind the Prevent programme are so much hot air. 

Below is an article on the economic imperative behind the expulsions.  There is a powerful lobby that wishes to replace the labour of the Africans with those of Filipinos who have no rights, either of residence or citizenship  and thus provide a pool of constant cheap labour.

I have included a number of articles below, on various aspects of this crisis, which is an important one in the stage of the further degeneration of Israel.

Profiteers for Expulsion:  Brokers Want Africans Out, Filipinos in

The brokers who bring 'Filipina' caregivers to Israel- and make them pay a hefty fee- don't want the asylum seekers corrupting their business models. This is hypocrisy at its finest
Ha’aretz   Feb 05, 2018 1:00 AM
FILE PHOTO: A 'Filipina' caregiver and an elderly Israeli


MANILA – Millions of Filipino nationals work outside their country. It’s an important economic sector here; the money they send home constitutes 10 percent of the country’s gross national product. In some countries they work in construction, in others as cooks, while in Israel, as they well know here, “Filipina” generally describes the caregiver taking care of a frail grandparent or disabled child.

This Filipina cooks and cleans, does the shopping and pushes the wheelchair for the daily outing, and also bathes her charge and takes care of bathroom needs. She works all day and is also present at night – the equivalent of at least two full-time jobs. Yet very few Israeli households employ two Filipinas. As a result, their workday almost never ends.

For this work, which few Israelis would be prepared to do, she gets minimum wage (from which hundreds of shekels are deducted). And before the snide remarks about “for them it’s a lot of money,” everyone should ask himself if he would agree to do such work, under these conditions and for such a wage. Stories about Filipinas who became millionaires after five years of changing adult diapers in Holon are ridiculous exaggerations. That Filipina sends a substantial portion of her wages to her family, including children and the elderly, who have remained here. Sometimes it’s the main source of support for numerous people.

She will also have to repay debts. To whom? To the broker and the employment agency that placed her. According to the Kav La’Oved organization, the brokerage fees can reach $10,000 or more, a huge sum in the Philippines. At best it will be a year until the worker pays off her debts and can send money back to her family; at worst it could be three years. According to employees’ testimony, around half of the brokerage fees, which are illegal, end up in Israeli hands. Incidentally, the increasing demand around the world for Filipina nurses has created a serious nursing shortage in the Philippines, as 70 percent of Filipina nursing school graduates end up working abroad.

These employment arrangements through brokers are the force behind the expulsion of the asylum seekers in Israel. After all, their work is needed; there’s hardly a restaurant or a street corner where you won’t find an Eritrean washing dishes or sweeping. Most of us don’t want to do this “dirty work” either. This means that the thousands who will be expelled and left to their fate will undoubtedly be replaced by other foreign workers, but this time they will arrive through employment contractors who will take a fat cut.

These contractors are well-connected to politicians and senior government officials. When I chaired the Knesset Committee on Foreign Workers, I was astounded by the vehement resistance to bringing workers to Israel through direct bilateral agreements. I quickly understood that interested parties wanted workers imported through brokers so they could make a fortune, and the government acceded to this.
Now they are talking about bringing workers from the Philippines to replace the asylum seekers at the restaurants and hotels. But Israel doesn’t have such an agreement with the Philippines. If such workers are brought in, it would contravene the state’s commitment to the High Court of Justice to employ workers only under agreements, and would encourage exploitation.

This is hypocrisy at its peak. This government, which is sowing fear of foreigners, is bringing in the most foreign workers. The more workers are brought in, the greater the number of those who will remain permanently in Israel – a completely natural process. Instead of accelerating the airlift from Manila or Beijing, the African asylum seekers should be given work permits so they can work in an orderly, supervised fashion, in accordance with all the rules. After all, they are already working and their employers are satisfied with them. I know this from conversations with hundreds of employers.

So enough of all this persecution, lies and incitement. These are human beings, they work hard, their work is needed and there’s no reason to bring other foreigners to replace them and enrich brokers with more illegal income.

Shahar Shoham, Liat Bolzman and Lior Birger – presents a clear picture: promises made by the State of Israel both in court and personally to those leaving “voluntarily” about what awaits them upon reaching Rwanda and Uganda were not kept. Instead of access to official claims of asylum and work permits, upon landing in Rwanda their travel documents were taken from them. None of them could access application possibilities to claim asylum. Thus, deprived of any official documents, they were exposed to robbery, threats and imprisonment. They were forced to proceed on to life-threatening journeys across South Sudan, Sudan and Libya while seeking shelter. On their way they suffered trafficking in person, imprisonment, the threat of being forcibly returned   back to Eritrea, harsh conditions of hunger, violence and slave-labor in Libya’s torture camps, as well as a perilous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Europe. They described a perilous journey permeated with an all-encompassing fear of death haunted by imminent death. Many witnessed the death of fellow travelers during the crossing of the Sahara Desert, in the torture camps in Libya and as they drowned in the Mediterranean. Among the dead were others who had those who left Israel “voluntarily.”

[In Rwanda] “Three days after our arrival, this man picked us up from the airport told us, ‘you must leave for Uganda’. I asked where are our documents and why must we leave? – He said that we must.”
(Gabriel, pseudonym, left Israel in October 2015 for Rwanda under the “voluntary leave” procedure of the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority)

[In Uganda] “One man takes out a big knife, and tells us ‘Give us money or we’ll kill you’. They took everything we had, 3,500 dollars, clothes, cellphone, they take everything. […] And we don’t know what to do…”

(Dwight, pseudonym,  left Israel for Rwanda under the “voluntary leave” procedure of the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority}

[In Sudan] They took us at night to prison. And I thought to myself: ‘Those who do not pay, we will send them back to Eritrea.’ If I return to Eritrea, what can I tell you? They’ll kill me. I was crying, I was like a crazy person.”

(Samson, pseudonym, left Israel in April 2016 and reached Rwanda under the “voluntary leave” procedure of the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority).

[In Libya] “You’re locked inside. Eat and sleep there. 800 people in a small room. Everything is dirty, everyone is sick, boys, girls. I can’t talk about it. They beat you, threaten you, kill you quietly.”

(Samson, pseudonym, left Israel in 2016 for Rwanda under the “voluntary leave” procedure of the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority. Now lives in Holland, where he was granted refugee status).

[In the Mediterranean Sea] “I saw 400 people inside… the water, they drowned. I saw people got in and all of them died on the boat. Nine boats went into the sea, we were before this ship, many children died, I remember. I don’t have the strength anymore to talk about it.”

(Johannes, pseudonym, left Israel in 2015 for Rwanda under the “voluntary leave” procedure of the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority. Now lives in Holland, where he was granted refugee status).

Not only are the promises made to those leaving “voluntarily” not kept – this report concludes that the implementation of deportations to a “a third country” poses a grave threat to the mental wellbeing, safety and lives of men, women and children. To this day, this policy has cost the lives of many who reached Israel in the hope of finding shelter and did not find it there. It is impossible to read the testimonies brought forth in this report otherwise; they are a clear call to stop the looming deportation policy and regularize the status of asylum-seekers residing in Israel.  

This report is based on interviews conducted with Eritrean refugees who  left Israel under the “Voluntary” Departure program to Rwanda and Uganda. There – in contrast to the promises made to them by the State of Israel – they were not granted protection, forcing them to embark on a dangerous journey ending in Europe. This report focuses on the “Voluntary Departure” policy and how it affected the lives of those who left Israel under it. This policy has been implemented since late 2013 vis-à-vis Eritrean and Sudanese residing in Israel. In January 2018, shortly before the publication of this report, the State of Israel announced an escalation of the measures it implements against this population; one such measure is a plan to forcibly deport asylum-seekers to a third country, i.e., not their homeland.

The report is based on a qualitative research made up  of 19 interviews with Eritrean refugees who left Israel between 2014-2016. 11 interviews were conducted in Germany and eight in the Netherlands, the countries of residence of the interviewees, in which the overwhelming majority received refugee status.

This conclusion is in congruence with findings of previous reports published by Israeli and international NGOs that collected testimonies in African countries of those who “voluntarily” departed Israel. These testimonies were recently buttressed by a statement of the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) about dozens of similar testimonies the agency collected in Italy. Taken together, several hundreds of testimonies have been collected.

Thus, the report confirms that the alarming patterns documented by previous reports have not changed. In addition, this report, for the first time, details additional stages in the journey of those who departed. Little information was available about these legs of the journey – and especially about what the interviewees experienced in Libya and during their crossing of the Mediterranean Sea– until their arrival in Europe.

The authors are independent researchers with years of experience working with refugee communities residing in Israel under the auspices of several NGOs

Lior Birger, a PhD candidate for Social Work at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a Fellow at the joint program of the Hebrew University and the Free University of Berlin -“Human Rights Under Pressure”. Shahar Shoham, a PhD candidate for Area and Global Studies at the Institute for Asian and African Studies , Humboldt University in Berlin and a grantee of the Hans-Böckler Foundation in Germany. Liat Bolzman, an M.A. student for Social Work and Human Rights at the Alice Salomon University in Berlin and a grantee of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Germany. “The harsh testimonies brought in this report clearly show the brutal ramifications of Israel’s official policy towards refugees,” say Shoham, Bolzman and Birger. “They prove that the promises made by Israel’s government to those leaving regarding what they are about to face in Rwanda and Uganda – are lies.

The people who testified us emphasized that although they have found shelter and protection in Europe, they feel obliged to expose the truth about the perilous journey they were forced to undertake. They said, furthermore, that ‘not another human being should suffer the horrors inflicted on us.’

We join the many voices of protest presently raised, and call upon the Government of Israel to revoke its decision, to truly and fairly examine the claims for asylum and protection, and to stop deporting asylum-seekers to places in which, instead of protection, expose them to violence, torture and the peril of death.”

Everything You Need to Know About Israel's Mass 

Deportation of Asylum Seekers

The government plan to send 20,000 back to Africa by 2020 has sparked anger and controversy, raising basic questions about Israel’s duty as a nation founded by refugees

Ha’aretz Feb 07, 2018 9:56 AM

A demonstration against deportation by asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea, in Tel Aviv, in December. Tomer Appelbaum

In a controversial move that has made the news domestically and abroad, Israel began sending out deportation notices to thousands of African asylum seekers this week. It is giving them a stark choice: leave the country or face going to prison for an indefinite period.

This is the culmination of over a decade of the government trying to get a handle on the issue. It calls the asylum seekers “infiltrators” because they entered the country illegally, and claims most are economic migrants. However, the Africans say they are fleeing persecution in their homelands and are entitled to refugee status.

In a country founded as a refuge for Jews fleeing persecution, the situation has raised a fundamental question: What is the Jewish state’s obligation to others, even if they are not Jewish? The issue is especially pressing today, with the world gripped by its worst refugee crisis since World War II.

Asylum seekers in Israel: A Timeline.  Eliyahu Hershkovitz

The deportations are scheduled to start in early April, during the Jewish holiday of Passover, which commemorates the Israelites’ escape from slavery in Egypt.
Here we explain the key issues concerning the African asylum seekers in Israel, and why the matter has become such a hot-button topic both in Israel and for Diaspora Jews.

Who are these asylum seekers?

In the mid-2000s, with the African states of Sudan and Eritrea racked by unrest and violence – and, in the case of the Darfur region of Sudan, even attempted genocide – some citizens chose to flee.

They embarked on a hazardous journey that eventually led them from Egypt’s Sinai Desert into Israel, paying Bedouin smugglers to get them over the border and in some cases arriving with tales of torture and rape that they endured along the way.
The first to arrive, in 2005, were mostly fleeing ethnic violence in Sudan – in particular from Darfur. The fighting there has been described as an effort by the majority-Muslim Arab elite to wipe out ethnic African groups. Witnesses described scenes of torture, killings, rape and mutilation.

Eritrea, for its part, is considered a dictatorship. The United Nations has written of “widespread networks of informants, coerced by the state,” adding that “those suspected of treasonous behavior are subject to arbitrary arrest, forced disappearances, extrajudicial executions and torture.”

Many of the Eritreans in Israel say they were trying to escape the country’s compulsory army service. The UN says they would be in “great danger” if they returned to their native land as deserters.

How many African asylum seekers are there in Israel?

There are about 38,000 adult African asylum seekers currently in the country, according to figures from the Interior Ministry’s Population, Immigration and Border Authority, with a further 4,000 children. The authority says the vast majority of the asylum seekers, 72 percent, are from Eritrea. An additional 20 percent are from Sudan, with another 8 percent from other African states including Nigeria, Ghana, the Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone, or other countries.

The flow of African asylum seekers in Israel reached a peak in 2011, when an estimated 1,300 were crossing the southern border every month. By 2013, there were about 60,000 in the country, but that number has subsequently fallen by about one-third due to deportations, refugee status being granted in other countries (including Canada and Germany), and the fact that some asylum seekers have accepted financial inducements from the state to leave the country.

Their arrival has been stymied in recent years by growing Islamic State-related violence in the northern Sinai peninsula, a route to Europe via Libya and the 242-kilometer-long (150-mile) fence Israel built along its southern border with Egypt and completed in 2014. Last year, the border authority said there were no illegal crossings into Israel via Sinai and the wave of asylum seekers is considered to be over.

What was Israel’s response to the asylum seekers?

As well as erecting the southern border to stem the flow, Israel has attracted criticism from UN refugee agencies and, increasingly, Diaspora Jews for its hard-line approach to the asylum seekers. They say the individuals in question are refugees, since they are fleeing war zones and seeking a safe haven in Israel. Israel, however, says that the majority are economic migrants, not refugees, and that they can therefore be deported.

The majority of the asylum seekers – some 15,000 to 22,000 – live in shared apartments in south Tel Aviv (Eilat and Jerusalem are other hubs), causing tensions in these already poor and overcrowded neighborhoods. Some south Tel Aviv residents have complained that they alone have shouldered the burden of living with the asylum seekers. There have also been accusations that the Africans were responsible for an increased crime rate, claims that have been refuted.

At various points, the government has suggested that the asylum seekers posed either security threats or a demographic threat to Israel’s status as the Jewish state. They have also said that Israel is not equipped to handle resettling them. Last month, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked wrote on her Facebook page: “The State of Israel is too small and has its own problems. It cannot be used as the employment office of the African continent.”

Many nonprofit organizations working with the asylum seekers say the government has employed harsh measures that suggest they are trying to make life difficult for the asylum seekers: They have no social, labor or health rights, and because they are not granted work permits, their job situation is often unstable. They perform mainly menial labor in restaurants and cleaning.

The government built a special facility in the Negev, Saharonim Prison, to house some of the illegal immigrants that it had detained. The prison opened in July 2007, and asylum seekers were sent there under the Prevention of Infiltration Law. Six years later, Israel opened another detention center in the desert, called Holot (“Sands”).

What is Holot and who’s being detained there?

The Holot detention facility was built specifically to hold African asylum seekers, at a cost of 323 million shekels ($94 million). It opened in December 2013 and although it is not a prison per se, detainees must report for a roll call twice a day, meaning they are unable to do anything other than hang around at the remote site. It is expected to close in March. The 900 men currently being detained there, all from Eritrea, have been told they must agree to deportation to their home country or another African state, Rwanda, or be sent to Saharonim Prison indefinitely. Officials have said Holot cost about 240 million shekels to run every year.

African asylum seekers outside the Holot detention facility in southern Israel, this month. It opened in December 2013 and cost of 323 million shekels ($94 million).Meged J. Gozani

How is Israel handling the Africans’ asylum claims?

The Interior Ministry is checking the Africans’ asylum requests, but critics say the pace has been slow and the processing itself has been problematic. Of the asylum seekers currently in Israel, some 15,400 have submitted claims for asylum since they were allowed to do so, the government says.

Activists helping the asylum seekers say the reason so many have not applied is that they do not trust the unit that examines asylum claims, and allege that less than a third of those claims have actually been reviewed. People complain that they spend hours in line (sometimes even waiting overnight in order to be seen in the morning) to apply for asylum, only to be sent away without being able to file their claim.

How many asylum seekers have been granted refugee status in Israel?

Out of the thousands of applications, to date only 11 asylum seekers have been granted refugee status, according to the population authority. Activist groups say the numbers refer to 10 Eritreans and one Sudanese person. That’s less than 1 percent of those who have applied, according to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society in Israel. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees reported last November that Israel had also granted humanitarian status to 200 Sudanese, most of them from Darfur.

By contrast, Canada has granted refugee status to 97 percent of the Eritreans who arrived there. According to Nancy Chan, a spokeswoman for the nonprofit Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, “Between January and November 2016, 910 Eritrean refugees were resettled to Canada from Israel.” In Germany, meanwhile, government figures said 75 percent of Eritrean applicants were granted full refugee status there in 2016.

The asylum seekers have been in Israel for over 10 years – why are they suddenly big news now?

In December, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his intention to tackle the problem conclusively. A new plan was unveiled in January, whose first stage is set to be carried out over the next two years. The population authority says during this time some 20,000 asylum seekers will be given the choice of deportation or being jailed for an indefinite period.

The government is offering a $3,500 payment for those who agree to be deported back to Africa.

Asylum seekers started receiving their deportation notices on February 3 and have been given two months to decide which of the two options to take.

For now, deportation notices will not be issued to women, children, fathers of children, anyone recognized as a victim of slavery or human trafficking, and those who had requested asylum by the end of 2017 but haven’t gotten a response. The 350 or so unaccompanied minors who fled to Israel and studied in Israeli schools are expected to be exempt from the first phase.

The first deportations are expected to take place in early April, just as Israel is marking the holiday of Passover.

Israel says some asylum seekers already left voluntarily – what does this mean?

According to the United Nations, about 4,000 asylum seekers left the country between December 2013 and June 2017, under what Israel terms its “voluntary departure program.” However, the choice in these situations was often one between deportation or prison, with Israel also offering a financial inducement to leave the country and a free flight.

As party to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, Israel is unable to return people to their homelands if their lives are deemed at risk. Consequently, it was widely reported in the Israeli media that it made secret deals with “third countries” in Africa last year to accept the asylum seekers. These states have subsequently been identified as Rwanda and Uganda. However, Rwanda’s deputy foreign minister said last month his country would only take in those leaving Israel willingly.

The then-young country of Israel, still reeling from the devastation of the Holocaust, played a key role in crafting the refugee convention – which marked the first time the international community convened to determine the responsibilities countries had to refugees.

Where will the deportees go?

They will be deported to what are called “third party” countries – in this case, believed to be Rwanda. In the past, some have also gone to Uganda. Rwanda’s deputy foreign minister stated recently his country would not accept any deportees leaving Israel against their will, but Israeli Interior Minister Arye Dery countered that it would.

Israeli activist groups have produced testimonials that deportees arriving in Rwanda, and then later as they move on, have suffered difficult experiences. Deportees were regularly robbed of the funds they arrived with, activists said. There have also been reports of rapes, people being sold into human-trafficking rings, and deaths as they tried to reach Europe on dangerous boat trips via Libya.

How does the Israeli government respond to accusations of racism?

The government says anyone who enters Israel illegally is subject to deportation, period. However, one of Israel’s most high-profile supporters in the Diaspora, lawyer Alan Dershowitz, told an Israeli TV channel last month: “The whiff of racism cannot be avoided when you have a situation where you have 40,000 people of color being deported en masse without being individualized and every single case considered on its merits.”

Other Israelis have pointed out that the asylum seekers don’t pose a security threat, their relatively small numbers would not disrupt the religious status quo and they help fill the low-paid jobs many Israelis prefer not to take – such as dishwashers in cafés and restaurants. The race question is also being raised because there are thousands of Eastern Europeans who have also entered the country illegally, but they are not being systematically targeted for deportation in the same way.

What has the reaction been to the deportation plan?

The African asylum seeker issue is a divisive one in Israel, and some politicians in the governing coalition have sought to appease right-wing nationalists with their hard-line approach. However, there has also been a surge of grass-roots activism against the deportations, both in Israel and the Diaspora, with protesters citing Jewish values and the biblical commandment to “Love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Diaspora dissenters also see in the plight of the Africans stories of their own families, who in many cases were refugees fleeing persecution.

There have been dozens of petitions against the mass deportation from rabbis and clergy in Israel and around the world, and in Israel from Holocaust survivors, artists, doctors, lawyers, academics, social workers and even airline pilots who said they would refuse to work on flights that would deport anyone. There have also been street demonstrations and even a campaign – inspired by Anne Frank – to hide asylum seekers from the authorities as a last resort. Hundreds of Israelis have signed up to hide migrants in the “Israeli Asylum” campaign.

And what do the asylum seekers themselves say they want?

In interviews with the media, many say they would like to return to their homelands once it is safe enough to do so. In the meantime, they would like to be given asylum in Israel or another country.

Eritrean finds home in Italy after trauma in Libya

Asmorom is one of around 80 refugees who undertook the dangerous journey to Europe via Libya, after being relocated by Israel.
By Barbara Molinario  |  21 February 2018   |  Français
Asmorom, 28, hugs a UNHCR cultural mediator outside Rome’s Termini train station.  © UNHCR/Alessandro Penso

ROME, Italy – Asmorom was just 18 when he fled Eritrea in 2007. It would take three years and many violent beatings by people smugglers for him to find a safe place to call home in Israel – only for his world to come crashing down once more.

Granted a temporary visa in Israel for four months, Asmorom was forced to continuously renew it. He also struggled to fit in. Without the right to work, he was vulnerable and exploited, ekeing out a living with odd jobs for meagre pay.

“I had no contact with the community,” he recalls. “I had no Israeli friends and was not given the opportunity to study and learn the language.”

Despite this, Asmorom struggled on in Israel for five years, until one day the authorities told him that his visa would not be renewed. This gave him three options: being placed in a detention facility for an undetermined period of time, being returned to Eritrea or being transferred to Rwanda.

“I was given no information.”

UNHCR recently appealed to Israel to halt its policy of relocating Eritreans and Sudanese to sub-Saharan Africa. This is after around 80 cases were identified in which people relocated by Israel risked their lives by taking dangerous onward journeys to Europe via Libya.

Knowing he would face imprisonment or worse if he was returned to Eritrea, Asmorom had little choice but to accept the transfer to Rwanda.

He was given US$ 3,500 by Israeli authorities as part of the relocation scheme. Then, once in Rwanda, he and the nine other Eritrean refugees he had been travelling with were met by local authorities and transferred to a hotel.

“I was given no information, my Israeli documents were taken from me and I received nothing, no papers, no explanation whatsoever on what was going to happen,” says Asmorom. “I was scared. The word on the street was that we were not safe in the hotel because everyone knew that refugees coming from Israel were carrying large sums of money. We stayed one night, and then the whole group decided to leave and run to Uganda.”

In Italy, Asmorom received refugee status and is currently enrolled in language school.  © UNHCR/Alessandro Penso

In October 2015, Asmorom was once more in the hands of smugglers, who took him from Uganda to Sudan. In Sudan, he married and stayed for a few months, but knew he could not stay without documents or security. In May 2016, he left his wife behind for her own safety and departed towards Libya.

“In front of me was the Sahara for the second time,” he says. “I knew very well I could die, but I wanted freedom and peace and decided to cross again”.

In the middle of the desert, Asmorom and the group he was traveling with were kidnapped and taken to Kufrah, Libya. He was forced to pay US$ 1,800 to get to Tripoli, and there asked for an additional US$ 5,500. When he could not pay, he was taken to a warehouse where 1,500 refugees and migrants were kept in one large room.

“It is difficult to describe the conditions we were kept in. Try to imagine 1,500 people living, eating, sleeping and defecating in one large room. The food we were given was simply not enough and my friends and I were already debilitated from all these years of trying to survive, from Israel and from the crossing.”

“It is difficult to describe the conditions.”

“We were ill and we were hungry. Two of my friends did not survive, I watched them die in the warehouse. This for me is very difficult to talk about – I still cannot sleep at night because of this”.

In October 2016, Asmorom finally made it to the coast and set sail for Italy. Crossing the Mediterranean Sea in a small wooden boat with 800 people on board almost felt easy compared to the ordeal he had been through for seven years.

The boat was rescued by an NGO and its passengers disembarked in a port near Naples, Italy. “The moment I arrived to Italy I knew I no longer had to live in fear,” says Asmorom. “I had gambled with life and survived.”
In Italy, Asmorom received refugee status and is currently enrolled in language school, determined to find his place in society and hoping to be reunited with his wife. However, he says he will never be able to put what he has been through behind him.

“I would like for my friends names to be written down,” he says. “Ibra and Tesfalem were their names, they would be 28 today. It is only because I survived that their families were able to find out what happened to their sons.”

“So many people are unaccounted for. The families still call me today, as they could not get the bodies back, and for closure they ask me for information – Were they sick? Were they given food? Were they beaten? It is for them that I am telling my story and I would like for as many people as possible to know what has happened.”

The UN Refugee Agency in Geneva released a very important testimonial verifying Israel and Rwanda’s human trafficking system and deportation agreement עכשיו אף אחד כבר לא יוכל להכחיש: ישראל ורואנדה מפרות את החוק הבינלאומי וסוחרות בפליטים

Rwandan officials recently denied #Refugees4Sale deal with Israel exists. Yesterday, they denied that any deportees from Israel have arrived at Rwanda (other than several individuals coming on their own accord).
The UNHCR's publication yesterday verifies several serious claims against Israel and Rwanda:
1. Israel deports refugees to states of origin or to unsafe third states. This is the first time the UNHCR confirms that Rwanda is the third state. This is also the first time that the UNHCR states that Israel deports refugees to their state of origin, a blatant violation of the non refoulement principle of international law.
2. Israeli and Rwandan authorities collaborate in what the UNHCR calls a 'relocation scheme'
3. Israeli and Rwandan authorities are implicated in human trafficking. See this testimonial endorsed and verified by the UNHCR:
"Once in Rwanda, he and the nine other Eritrean refugees he had been travelling with were met by local authorities and transferred to a hotel.
I was given no information, my Israeli documents were taken from me and I received nothing, no papers, no explanation whatsoever on what was going to happen,” says Asmorom. “I was scared. The word on the street was that we were not safe in the hotel because everyone knew that refugees coming from Israel were carrying large sums of money. We stayed one night, and then the whole group decided to leave and run to Uganda In October 2015, Asmorom was once more in the hands of smugglers, who took him from Uganda to Sudan..”

UNHCR GENEVA IS EXPOSING ISRAEL AND RWANDA'S #Refugees4Sale Please share! Full UNHCR statement