Children march in solidarity with African migrants in Tel Aviv
Hundreds of school children demonstrate support for African migrants who are set to be deported as part of a governmental plan in the coming weeks; 'The children and the youth don’t make decisions but if anyone can reach the hearts of the citizens, it is us.'
The demonstration—held under the banner of “Children of God—Children and youth against deportation”—began at Habima Square from where the children made their way to Sderot Chen and concluded at Rabin Square.
At the conclusion of the march, the famous Israeli musician and activists, Aviv Geffen performed at Rabin Square together with a band from the Bialik Rogozin high school in south Tel Aviv, the area most noticeably affected by the influx of the migrants. The school teaches many of the migrants’ children.
“We came in the name of the principle that the State of Israel is composed of refugees who had the doors slammed on them. We can’t do the same thing to people from other terrible places,” said one of the school girls, Hayley Kopperstein.
“It isn’t ok that we, of all people, behave this way. The children and the youth don’t make decisions but if anyone can reach the hearts of the citizens it is us.”
Liam Strikovsky, a school boy who attended the march from Jaffa’s Open Democratic School said that he had come to show Israel’s sympathy.
“We are here to show the state and the government that we care about what happens and that it affects us too. It seriously bothers us how the state treats people who are just looking for a home. I care so I came because if we don’t do anything, nothing will change,” Liam said.
Yuval Gurvitch said that the matter was more important that studies. “There are some things that are more important that two hours of math and I call on everyone who is at home to come here instead of watching TV,” Yuval added.
The Israel children also walked side by side with some of the migrant children. “We came here nine years ago because of the situation in Eritrea,” said one of the 17-year-old migrants from the Bialik Rogozin high school. “It was very hard for us, but now, when they talk about deportation, I am worried about my family, about my future and my education.”
Jaril, 16, also from the same school said: “I am a son of a Filipino immigrant and I was born in Israel. A few years ago we were supposed to be deported and I remember how scary and hard it was. I have friends who are 18 who would have wanted to draft into the army. Think how they feel about the deportation. We invite you to our school to come and see how much we are like them.”
Five prominent US Jewish Zionists have urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against proceeding with a government plan for the mass deportation of illegal African migrants from Israel, warning that it could cause “incalculable damage” to the moral standing of Israel and the Jewish people.
On Thursday, Israel’s High Court issued a temporary injunction for the state, ordering it to halt the expulsion of asylum seekers from Israel until it submits a response to a petition made to the court against the expulsion. The state's reply, the justices ruled, must be submitted by March 26.