Book: African Refugees in Israel

Documenting the harsh treatment the State of Israel doles out to the Africans who have arrived in recent years, fleeing political persecution & ethnic cleansing
David Sheen
Tel Aviv
1 Team Member

I'm turning to you because I need your help to complete the project I'm working on, documenting the hardships that African people face in the State of Israel, and compiling them into a full-length book. I've been reporting on this topic for the last three and a half years, probably more than anyone else in the country. But no one has yet published a full-length book about this issue. Publishers are hesitant to fund a book like this, partly because so many books have already been written about Israel and Palestine. But not about this issue, which is almost unknown outside of Israel. And that is scandalous! Because it is a shocking story.

According to its own national narrative, Israel was founded to provide a safe refuge to people fleeing political persecution and ethnic cleansing. And yet, when political persecution and ethnic cleansing force millions of Africans to leave their home countries, countries with much poorer populations take in huge numbers of refugees, but Israel refuses to allow almost any to stay in the country. For those who have managed to make it into the country, the government won't let them work, incites racism against them, criminalizes them, jails them, and expels them back to the horrors they fled from.

For decades, Israeli governments have claimed that the country is a democracy, that it doesn't discriminate on the basis of race or religion, and that there is no peace with the Palestinians because of decades of bad blood between the two peoples. But there is no history of conflict, no bad blood between Jews and sub-Saharan Africans. The government doesn't want any African refugees in the country partly because they're poor, partly because they're not white, but mainly, because they're not Jews.

Is that a legitimate reason for a country to refuse to open its gates to asylum-seekers? Because the people applying for asylum are not of the same ethnicity or the same religion as the majority of the country's citizens? If it is, then all of the Christian-majority countries of the world that refused to permit entry to Jews fleeing the Holocaust 75 years ago were well within their rights. When Israel rounds up and deports African refugees, it makes a mockery of the millions of Jews who died during World War II because no one would grant them shelter.

This story has huge implications for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Because if Israeli policy is not based on equal treatment regardless of ethnicity, but on ensuring that as few as possible non-Jewish people remain in the country, then that would go a long way towards explaining Israel's actions vis-a-vis the Palestinians for the last 66 years. Perhaps the source of the conflict isn't Arab anti-Semitism, or even competing land claims, but as distasteful as it sounds, a drive by Israeli political and religious leaders for racial and religious purity.

The American media tends to report news narratives that conform with American foreign policy. Because the American government is such a staunch advocate of the Israeli government, the American media has all but ignored Israel's treatment of African refugees. And yet, if any of the government measures and grassroots attacks on African refugees that I have been reporting on had occurred in the United States, they would surely have rocketed to the top of the news cycle. Book-length coverage of the issue could force the media to grapple with the topic.

I'm calling upon you to support me, which will allow me to focus my efforts on this project and produce a professional document that will catalogue the abuses that African refugees are being subjected to on a daily basis in Israel. Because only by shining a light on these shameful stories can we hope to have a conversation about how to improve the situation. Ultimately, I live here, and I want to live in a country in which the majority treats the minority as if it would want to be treated if it was the minority.

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raised by 114 people in 1 month
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This campaign ended on December 20, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $10USD

    Be one of the first people to get an electronic copy of the book

    29 claimed
  • $25USD
    Print Book

    Be one of the first people to get a physical copy of the book

    28 claimed
  • $50USD
    Signed Print Book +

    Be one of the first people to get a physical copy of the book signed by the author and an electronic copy of the book

    20 claimed
  • $100USD
    Shout out +

    A special thank you in the credits of the book, which you will receive both a signed physical copy of and an electronic copy of

    13 claimed
  • $250USD
    Skype Session +

    A special online dialogue with the author of the book, plus a special thank you in the credits of the book, which you will receive both a signed physical copy of and an electronic copy of

    1 claimed
  • $1,000USD
    Tel Aviv Tour +

    A guided tour of the flashpoints between native Israelis and African asylum-seekers (does not include transportation to TelAviv!), plus a special thank you in the credits of the book, which you will receive both a signed physical copy of and an electronic copy of

    0 claimed
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