20,000 Attend Demo in Tel Aviv to Stand with Asylum Seekers
On Saturday 24th February, we took a critical stride forward in the struggle against deportation and displacement. In South Tel Aviv, over 20,000 people stood together in the name of one simple statement: ‘no to the deportation of asylum seekers through policies of incitement.’
Protesters called on the government to develop an efficient process that fairly examines each individual’s case instead of summarily deporting people to countries where they may face substantial danger. They also made it clear that a policy is needed which recognises that asylum seekers are already contributing to society and must therefore be recognised as valued members of their communities. It is time to stop repeating the false claim that one cannot support the safety of asylum seekers if they care about meeting the needs of longtime residents of south Tel Aviv.
Togod Omer Adam, an asylum seeker from Sudan, gave one of the most powerful speeches of the night:
“You ask yourself: where will you be forced to go and how the hell will you survive? How you will survive life in countries that do not want you, who send you on to another journey? How will you find the power once again to survive the militias and the smugglers and desert? Where do you find the strength to do it all again and get out alive? But there is also a lot of hope. You here give me hope and strength…You are the ones who choose to stand by me despite the price you pay. And thanks to you I have faith in the Israeli public and in Israeli society and in the Jewish heart.”
Overall, it was an evening of hope and clear understanding that this struggle can and will be won. It was an evening in which the streets of South Tel Aviv filled with people who joined together to convey a single powerful message. Veteran residents of its neighbourhoods standing with asylum seekers, Jews with Arabs, the centre with the periphery, Mizrahim together with Ashkenazim.
Mutasim Ali, the first Darfurian to gain refugee status in Israel
NIF Executive Director in Israel Mickey Gitzin
Cover image: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90
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