|Israelis and Africans On the Same Side in South Tel Aviv|
|Written by Tamara Symonds|
October 17, 2013
Earlier this year, we profiled NIF grantee Power to the Community, a group of veteran Israeli and African refugee activists who joined together in an attempt to address the problems facing economically disadvantaged neighborhoods in South Tel Aviv. This week, following months of training from SHATIL, they organized their first high-profile demonstration in the area under the slogan "Residents of South Tel Aviv Demand Security for All."
Participants in the demonstration included veteran residents, young people, foreign workers, and African asylum seekers. As the group marched through the streets of South Tel Aviv, there were chants in Hebrew, Arabic, Tigrinya (spoken in parts of Eritrea), and English, all promoting the same goals – greater personal safety, increased solidarity, and joint action on behalf of the community. "We are aware of the politics of divide and rule," said Oscar Oliver, an asylum seeker from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, "and we are working for togetherness."
Specifically, Power to the Community activists are focusing their efforts on the problem of security for residents in South Tel Aviv by seeking to improve local police services in the area. Other issues of concern for the group include the numerous abandoned buildings (which are a danger to children); the inadequate sewage system; and the lack of street lighting in the neighborhood, which attracts crime. Shula Keshet, head of NIF grantee Achoti, which also supports the initiative, spoke to the crowd and said: "The establishment is always blaming the victim…What is happening in South Tel Aviv every day is a crime."
SHATIL's Kalela Lancaster explained that, because the refugee issue is so controversial, it is very important to reduce tensions between the residents of South Tel Aviv and to bring these diverse communities together as much as possible. Power to the Community is the only civil society group pursuing the goal of uniting these residents, which is why supporting its work is so critical.