Israel is Paradise
1 August, 2009
Recently, an article entitled ''My Hell in an Israeli Jail'' has been circulating across the internet. This was first published in the Voice Online, UK taken from an interview with Black British film maker Ishmahil Blagrove. Firstly, I would like to thank him for trying to highlight the plight of Black Africans even though I feel that the article is not objective, misguided and appears to be used to hype anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish feelings in the black community. As a Black African man I am utterly disgusted that a fellow Black man, a film maker whom in every sense is a Black intellectual, should allow himself to be made an object and material for anti-semetic propaganda.
At this juncture, I would like to point out that Mr. Blagrove's observations and comments are his personal views and opinions, they do not reflect the observations, opinions and views of Black Africans, those in Africa or those of us who have travelled to Israel. Individuals should not be generalising the opinions of an entire continent of people for a personal media stunt or propaganda issues. Attitudes like this damage social and political cohesion between communities and fuel hatred in society. Those who start such actions will then hide behind the internet newspapers that publish it, while their mis-information continues to wreak havoc in society.
In a disclaimer, written by Mr. Blagrove he insisted that he is British born, he was unable to refer to any African or Caribbean or Black ancestry but yet he has now made himself a mouthpiece of Black opinion. Anyone that has the interest of Black people at heart, a love for social harmony and cohesion between Arabs and Jews, or Palestinians would find out that there are so many objective issues that can be raised. I do not want to draw parallels to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the experience of Black Africans in Sudan, Arab countries or the Igbos in Nigeria but for analytical expressions I cannot help but do so.
Let us, firstly look at the experience of Jews in Israel, the Middle East and the west and the experience of Igbos in Biafra known as the ''Jews of Africa''.
As late as 1945 many Jews were killed in Libya and in the same year many Igbos were killed in Kano, Northern Nigeria. In the early 1940's Jews, mostly White, died in the Holocaust killing over 6 million people. Other events have shown that Jews have been persecuted, killed and deported from many Arab and European countries over the centuries.
I would argue that the White Jews among all societies do not need a lesson on empathy towards the oppressed because they have have had more than their fair share of persecution in the world.
The Igbos in their own events have suffered genocide resulting in the death of 3.5 million people deliberately starved to death. Over the years they have seen their businesses, shops and properties destroyed by people influenced with the same ideology that hates Jewish people. These atrocities like we are witnessing in Sudan, Chad and Mauritania are perpetuated by their Black brothers and Arab neighbours, yet Mr. Blagrove failed to make media propaganda out of this.
Many argue that Israel is the aggressor rather than the victim. But looking at the Igbos in Nigeria, I can argue strongly that Israel is a victim of its own success. A success of such magnitude that it has influenced positively the life of everyone on Earth. These successes are something we should celebrate and emulate. These include in 60 years Israel achieving the highest ratio of University degrees per person compared to the rest of the world, Israel has the 2nd highest output new books per citizen, it holds more patents per person than any citizen in any other nation in the world. More than 85% of solid waste in Israel is treated in an Environmentally friendly manner. Israeli companies; Amdoc, Comverse, Nice system all pioneered voice mail, sms and other cellular phone services.
The Intel high speed Centrium processor was developed in Israel as was Microsoft's Windows XP operating system.
The list of Israel's' achievements and contributions goes on. One has to remember Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir's Foreign Policy included helping newly - independent Black African nations to develop. Israel has emerged and asserted itself as a successful democracy in the Middle East where there are no other democratic countries, operating with The Rule of Law, with enviable technology and economic technical know-how.
We the Igbos will always appreciate and look up to Israel because judging from our own situation right now living in a country that is endemically corrupt, constantly under the threat of imposed religion and facing massacre and pogrom on a yearly basis along with being politically disenfranchised. Black people from this area will not want to be associated with Mr. Blagrove's comments.
We do not know the reasons why people are held in jail in Israel, nor how one person being held in a cell can ascertain that 90% of people in Israeli jails are Black people. We also do not know the political, ethnic and social background of the people in these jails and are not aware of the religion and ideological influence of the writer Mr. Blagrove, but yet Blacks have now been used in the midst of the Israeli - Palestinian conflict to stir up discord between Black people and Jews, rather than making peace between Israel and Palestine.
May I inform Mr. Blagrove that no Black African would seek asylum in any of the neighbouring countries to Israel unless they cannot make it to Israel, which is 'Paradise'. Every year hundreds of people, if not thousands, are walking through the desert hoping to reach Israel, passing on their way many countries.
Your article insults the intelligence of these men and women who have to go through hell to enter Israel, risking being shot on the Egyptian-Israeli border. To those of us that have been to Israel I do not think it is so bad as suggested.
I would like to take this opportunity to reassure Jewish people and Israeli's that the views and observations of Mr. Blagrove is only his opinion and the opinion of those who ascribe to his views, it is not the opinion or views of all the Black people. I will assure you that the majority of Black people whose colour and ethnic origin is African, and as such, has been used in this context, are not even aware of it.
Not long ago thousands of Africans were lifted up from Ethiopia and were re-settled in Israel. We have not forgotten that Mr. Abie Nathan and many others in the Jewish community worked tirelessly to prevent the starvation of Igbos during the Biafran-Nigerian war (1967-1970). In recent times, Israel has helped the Sudanese Refugees and has contributed in alleviating suffering in Sri Lanka and other conflict zones around the world.
Israel has done all this as a nation of only 7.4 million people.
Israel is a democracy and operates with The Rule of Law, I am sure that the Red Cross, Amnesty International and other credible Human Rights agencies already have access to these prisons and have not recorded any such occurrences nor major incidents.
Right now there are numerous atrocities being carried out against Black Africans in their own countries regardless of democratic government or religion. Such crimes against them include being beheaded, mass rape, slavery, torture and murder.
The last time I visited Israel I met many people from My community who have entered Israel through Egypt with no documents whatsoever yet they are allowed to stay. They expressed the nightmare they have been through crossing several countries to reach there.
Black African nations would like services produced in Israel, such as agro-industrial technology, solar panel technology and many other technical advances that have helped to make Israel a success. In my opinion, many Black Africans who have benefited from the technical support provided by Israel as early as the late 60's would feel outraged on how their colour and ethnicity has been used to promote hatred but I am sure they will never succeed.
President , Good Shepherds Movement