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More U.S. groups slam anti-African migrant rioting in Tel Aviv

JTA

May 30, 2012 | 10:18 am

African migrants sleep overnight in a park in Tel Aviv on May 26. Photo by REUTERS/Ronen Zvulen

African migrants sleep overnight in a park in Tel Aviv on May 26. Photo by REUTERS/Ronen Zvulen

More U.S. Jewish organizations are condemning anti-African migrant riots in Tel Aviv.

Among those weighing in on last week’s riots during a protest against the large numbers of African migrants living in the city were the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the New Israel Fund, the American Jewish Committee, J Street and the National Council of Jewish Women.

“Some Israeli politicians and leaders have characterized the migrants in negative terms, referring to them as ‘infiltrators’ and ‘occupiers,’ and the Israeli government itself has at times threatened to start mass deportations,” HIAS said in its statement. “Such harmful characterizations have continued even in the context of the government’s condemnation of the xenophobic riots.”

The new statements follow condemnation of the May 23 riots by the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Jewish Federations of North America, the Reform movement and Americans for Peace Now. 

Violent riots in south Tel Aviv’s Hatikvah neighborhood ended with 17 arrests. The violence followed a rally against the presence of the migrants, addressed by several Knesset members who have championed deportation, among them members of the ruling Likud Party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has condemned the riots.

Africans who passed by the rally were attacked. Rioters smashed the windshield of a car carrying three migrants as well as other car windows.

The rioters also set trash bins on fire, threw firecrackers at police and broke into and looted shops associated with the African migrant community.

One American Jewish group, the Zionist Organization of America, did not condemn the riots, focusing instead on praising Netanyahu’s efforts to slow the crossing of illegal immigrants.

“The Israeli Government has shown that it understands that it must maintain the peace, prevent violence and provide all necessary security for its citizens and refugees,” the ZOA said in a statement.

An Israel-based group that monitors U.S. and other human rights groups in Israel, NGO Monitor, also stopped short of specifically condemning the riots, saying instead it “deplores acts and expressions of violence, incitement, and hatred in all forms.”

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