International Women’s Day: Hundreds March in South Tel Aviv against the Planned Deportations

Over 700 women, both asylum seekers and long-term residents of south Tel Aviv, gathered Friday morning, March 9, for a solidarity march through the city’s southern neighborhoods, calling for the government to stop the planned deportation of asylum seekers from the country. The women marched from the Achoti (“My Sister”) center, until they reached Levinsky Park, while chanting slogans such as “Residents and refugees refuse to be enemies,” and “No to deportation, yes to rehabilitation.” Among the marchers: Hadash, Communist Party of Israel and Standing Together movement activists.

Asylum seekers, activists and residents of south Tel Aviv marched through the city streets to protest the planned deportation of thousands of asylum seekers from Israel, March 9, 2018.

Asylum seekers, activists and residents of south Tel Aviv marched through the city streets to protest the planned deportation of thousands of asylum seekers from Israel, March 9, 2018. (Photo: South Tel-Aviv against Deportation)

During the demonstration, feminist activist Shula Keshet, who heads Achoti, called to “dismantle the ghetto and spread the refugees throughout Israel,” telling the crowd “we support south Tel Aviv. They turned our area into the country’s backyard. The deportation of asylum seekers is just one step before they deport us, long-term residents of south Tel Aviv, in favor of the tycoons.” Our slogan is that women are for justice and equality, against deportation, and for south Tel Aviv. This is a strong statement by hundreds of men and women who came to support us. We act for feminist equality every year, and we also support the asylum seekers for the sake of justice.”

The guest of honor at the event was Dr. Alganesh Fasea, the founder and president of Gandhi, an organization that provides support for refugees from West and East Africa who are currently living in Europe. She told the crowd: “Israel has its own past, and it can understand the situation and the importance of human rights. Let’s work together for human rights for all.” Helen Kidana, a local Eritrean activist, also spoke, saying that her dream is to continue fighting for her rights. “I am still optimistic. Our time is now!”

Dr. Esther Elam, one of the founders of the feminist movement in Israel, also spoke during the rally. “When we started the feminist struggle, we understood that the personal is political,” she told the crowd. “The struggle against racism is inseparable from the feminist struggle. The liberation of women is the liberation of all humans. Unfortunately, there are many radical organizations led by men that do not understand this point.”

Another mass rally against the deportation of African refugees and asylum seekers will be held in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, March 24, under the slogan “Israel is stopping the deportation!”

According to organizers, “This is a struggle for our values, for the State of Israel. Throughout Israel and across the society we already know, the country can take care of citizens and asylum seekers. All you have to do is come, join us, in demanding together, with one voice, loud and clear: ‘We want a responsible solution.’” “The State of Israel has already passed the deportation legislation. For those in Holot [detention camp] it has already begun. On April 1 it will begin for asylum seekers outside of Holot.”

On Saturday, February 24, more than 20,000 Israelis gathered alongside African refugees in Aviv to protest the government’s plans to deport asylum seekers and to indefinitely imprison those who refuse to leave the country. The protest took place in south Tel Aviv, where most of the city’s asylum seekers reside. Hadash MK Dov Khenin (Joint List) and a number of those slated for deportation addressed the crowd, as did some of the area’s Israeli residents.

The protest at Rabin Square on Facebook: