Ben-Ari proposes moving Africans to Ramat Aviv Gimmel

MK says wants to show reality to leftists; says has already raised tens of thousands of shekels to subsidize housing in northern TA neighborhood.

December 15, 2010 10:43
4 minute read.
SOUTH TEL AVIV is absorbing African asylum-seekers to a degree that is simply inconceivable to more

Asylum seekers south Tel Aviv 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

The controversy over the African migrant community in Tel Aviv has escalated into a war of words between the relatively neglected south side and the upscale northern parts of the city.

In an effort to “unmask the hypocrisy of the leftist elites,” National Union MK Michael Ben-Ari announced on Wednesday that he would pay to rent apartments in the upscale neighborhoods of northern Tel Aviv and inhabit them with African migrants. The right-wing MK told The Jerusalem Post that “when the bleeding hearts are confronted with the reality of living next door to the migrants, they will change their tune and we will see how humane they really are.”

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In the last few months, Ben-Ari has emerged as a leader of the movement calling for zero-tolerance regarding the African migrants, a movement that has grown in size with the increase of migrants crossing into Israel across the Egyptian border. Ben-Ari recently launched the Knesset caucus dedicated to assisting those harmed by the phenomenon of economic infiltrators, and claims to represent and have the support of residents of Tel Aviv’s southern neighborhoods, which are currently home to many of the migrants.

Ben-Ari said that the idea for the new initiative came from an interview he conducted with a Channel 2 reporter several weeks ago, during an anti-migrant protest, held in south Tel Aviv.

“I asked the reporter what she thought would happen if all the migrants moved to the northern neighborhoods,” Ben-Ari said. “She said that it would never happen because they were protected by an ‘economic barrier.’ The migrants couldn’t afford to live there. So I decided to test the theory. We’ll provide the apartments and bring in the migrants and observe to see how the ‘bleeding hearts’ in the north react. We’ll take our cue from them.

They’ll teach us how to be humane.”

Ben-Ari said that he had already raised roughly NIS 60,000 for the initiative, enough to rent around a dozen apartments for a month or two, but that he was already being swamped with offers by people who wanted to donate to the effort. He said that a majority of the offers had come from residents of Tel Aviv’s southern neighborhoods, who claim to suffer the most from the migrants’ presence.

“It won’t take place overnight, but what we’re really interested in is observing the process, to see how the bleeding hearts respond to our plan,” Ben-Ari said.

When asked what sort of reaction he was expecting, Ben-Ari said he expected the mask of hypocrisy and sanctimoniousness to disappear and reveal the “true face of the so-called humanitarians, whose real intention is the destruction of the State of Israel.”

When asked if he was not concerned about the plan backfiring, in case the migrants were actually welcomed when they moved in to their upscale surroundings, Ben-Ari said he didn’t have a shred of doubt about the outcome.

“These are material people who live in constant fear for their property and standard of living,” said Ben-Ari. “I grew up in the south. There, if someone falls or is in need of assistance, the residents will help them out. In the north, they live behind locked doors and in constant fear that someone will scratch their car or step on their lawn. Give them a few days with people sleeping on the grass and throwing garbage in the street, and they will cry with all their might to have them removed.”

Ben-Ari said he was so confident of the results that he was willing to adopt the precise attitude expressed by prospective neighbors. “We’ll see what the fancy ladies of the north say when their daughters are harassed on their way to their ballet lessons.”

In an interview with Army Radio, Ami Greenberg, chairman of the Ramat Aviv residents’ council, said that the initiative was unfeasible and not serious. “I am convinced that no migrant will take up the call. Besides, even if they do, it’s contractually impossible, so it’s not worth talking about.”

Yohannes Bayu, director-general of the African Refugee Development Center, said the migrant population in Israel struggles with daily survival and would not likely reject an offer for free lodging, no matter who offered it or where it was.

“It’s all a matter of economics. The migrants don’t choose to go to the south [simply] because they prefer it over anywhere else. They go there because that’s the only place they can afford to rent,” said Bayu.

Bayu also said that if the government’s plans to prohibit the migrants from working are implemented, they won’t be able to afford lodgings anywhere and will end up sleeping and starving in the streets.

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