South Tel Aviv leader says ‘national struggle’ to reject migrants

Residents of south Tel Aviv protest against African migrants living in their neighbourhood

Residents of south Tel Aviv protest against African migrants living in their neighbourhood.
(photo credit: BAZ RATNER/REUTERS)

Tel Aviv activist and former city council member Haim Goren said on Monday he would reinvigorate a campaign against African migrants and “Return the ‘south’ to ‘south Tel Aviv.’”

“For a decade we have been fighting a war, which is a national war – it’s not about the rehabilitation of the residents of south Tel Aviv, it’s a national struggle about the status of immigration in Israel and the Jewish character of Israel,” Goren said on Army Radio.

“The ‘rehabilitation’ of southern Tel Aviv is not just a local battle,” he said, “It is part of a greater national struggle.”

In a post on his Facebook page, Goren wrote that the presence of tens of thousands of African migrants in south Tel Aviv is a serious burden. “Anyone who knows the reality in south Tel Aviv in recent years understands exactly what I’m talking about. A state has developed here within a state. Hundreds of businesses, places of entertainment, churches, clubs and more.”

 “It’s an issue that has existed for a long time, but is now coming out into the open. It really is about a lack of balance between the powers – between the legislative, the judicial and the executive authorities,” he explained in the radio interview. He argued that issue of African migrants exposed weaknesses in Israel’s legal system and in the balance of power between legislative, judicial and executive that lies at the basis of every working democracy.

Goren also warned against underestimating the power held by residents of south Tel Aviv.

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“We will prove to the PM and to the ministers that the Israeli citizens are on our side. It’s not worthwhile for them to go against us and to be defined as the enemies of the residents of south Tel Aviv.”

However, Goren clarified, deportation is not a good solution to the presence of tens of thousands of African migrants. “Third countries are maybe good for very specific cases on the sidelines of the issue. We have here a huge population of immigrants – that are not all refugees – and we need to find a solution that allows them to stay in Israel.”

Instead, he argued in a post on Facebook, refugees should be resettled in other areas in the country.

“The open facility in the Negev, where they receive all the conditions required to live and even beyond, is currently the solution that seems most sane and realistic.

“If you want to help them and us – excellent. Organize cultural and recreational activities, vocational training and occasional trips around the country. And if you find communities that volunteer to absorb a few hundred or thousands of them, we will stand and applaud you.”


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