Fate has a funny way of revealing things at the strangest of times. I’m finally leaving Israel this morning; leaving behind the political, religious and racial social awkwardness that many Israelis are accustomed to. The tension was finally having its toll on me. I was looking forward to saying ‘good riddence’ to Israel once and for all when I cross the border into Jordan, and from there catch a flight back to my reality in a few days.
Except fate didn’t want me to leave Israel without seeing the truth about how African immigrants are treated!
I had heard the horror stories as a warning from cautious afrocentric friends, and seen the tweets online. However I hadn’t seen anything profoundly negative towards Africans while being here so I stored the notion in the back of my mind. But just as I was heading to the border (on a slight detour to get get falafel for breakfast), I noticed an Eritrean flag was flying…
I left Jerusalem last night on the 23.58 bus to Eilat. I waited at the bus station from 3.48 (the bus was 40 minutes ahead of schedule) until 9.15 with just a small cup of coffee to aid me staying awake. I should have followed the directions I was given to get to the border, but instead I choose try and change some money first (and see if the falafel shop was open yet)!
Just a short turning from the bus station is where I spotted the group of Africans. This wasn’t like the group of African pilgrims I was accustomed to seeing in Jerusalem! For one, the crowd was much bigger, and I spotted the Eritrean flag flying besides the Israeli one.
I could have carried on walking but now I was even more curious to know what was going on after asking two different people (Israeli) who just shrugged their shoulders in a “I don’t know” (or really, “I don’t care”) manner.
I cared !
So I ventured nearer to get a good look (dragging my suitcase along – I had to trade back Matan’s backpack for my suitcase the other day).
About 150- 200 Africans stood to demonstrate peacefully. Women and their children lined the front, signboards where held high, with bold words I could recognise; “No more prisons” “We are migrants” “We need protection“.
I’m proud of my African brothers and sisters for demonstrating for their voice to be heard… But I’m sad for their reality if it falls on deaf ears.