Russia Today called rally 'Israeli Kristallnacht'

Anti-migrant rally stirs global media storm

World news sites call Tel Aviv rally against influx of African migrants 'race riot,' 'Israeli Kristallnacht'

A violent rally that manifested some Israelis' frustration with the growing number of African migrants in Israel has prompted much media coverage in recent days, with some news outlets going as far as dubbing Wednesday night's event a "race riot" and the "Israeli Kristallnacht."


Earlier this week, Hezbollah mouthpiece Al-Manar claimed that Israel has "declared war against African migrants," accusing Israeli officials of "racist incitement." The report suggesting that the migrants have been wrongfully held responsible for crimes in southern Tel Aviv.


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Meanwhile, headlines in the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir and the London-based pan-Arab newspaper claimed that Israeli xenophobia and racism have triggered attacks on African asylum seekers.


About 1,000 people gathered in south Tel Aviv's Hatikva neighborhood Wednesday evening to protest against the government's handling of the flow of African border jumpers into the Jewish state. Several Knesset members spoke at the event.


Some of the demonstrators shattered the windshield of a vehicle in which three African migrants were riding. Twelve people were arreseted for rioting and looting migrants' shops.


'Surging anti-African violence'

Wire reports, which have been picked up by news sites and papers from Washington to Bangkok, initially featured dry reports about Wednesday's violent rally, but have since offered a deeper look into immigration and the ties between Israelis and migrants.


Reuters described the situation as "surging street violence against African migrants, including a rampage that an Israeli broadcaster dubbed a 'pogrom.'"


The Associated Press spoke about a "political and emotional backlash" against the ballooning numbers of the illegal refugees, suggesting that the violence was ignited by the "recent rapes blamed on African migrants."


The report notes Israel's inability to expel the refugees due to the state's commitment to an international refugee treaty, and ponders the implications of the situation for other countries.


"It has raised questions, relevant all over the developed world, about how much is owed to the impoverished migrants who manage to sneak in," the article reads.


The French wire service, AFP, called Wednesday's demonstration a "race riot" that has prompted senior officials to call for the migrants' deportation. 


'Israeli Kristallnacht'  

News sites that have chosen not to pick up the wire stories opted for even bolder phrasing and commentary. The website Russia Today called Wednesday's events the "Israeli Kristallnacht," referring to the 1938 pogroms across Nazi Germany in which Jews were killed and Jewish institutions were destroyed. The night is regarded as marking the beginning of the Holocaust.


"The rage of those who attended the rally seems to reflect a growing intolerance of the incoming African asylum seekers and migrant workers, even among those in the highest ranks of power," the author claimed. The site quoted several politicians who spoke at the rally, including MK Miri Regev who called the migrants "a cancer in our body."


While the UK's Guardian dedicated at least three articles to the issue, The New York Times addressed the situation with a blog post.


The Daily Beast released an opinion piece by Peter Beinart, who pointed out the disproportionate media coverage that the violent incidents have received due to the fact they took place in the Jewish state.


"I doubt there’s a single first world nation where an influx of migrants from the global south has not sparked public hatred," Beinart wrote.


"So yes, what happened yesterday in the Hatikva neighborhood of Tel Aviv has happened in other countries with swelling immigrant populations, some of which don’t get as much international flak as does Israel, which is unfair," he added.


Meanwhile, the US-based Christian Science Monitor stressed the fact that Israel once was a nation of refugees.


"In an ironic twist, Israel's most tolerant city erupted in violent riots against African migrants last night, eliciting comparisons with 'pogrom' attacks on European Jewish communities in the 19th and 20th centuries," the popular site wrote.


Gili Gurel contributed to the report




פרסום ראשון: 05.26.12, 10:28
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