Saturday, September 22, 2012



It's that time again...Theoretical Weekends at Scission.  I am not sure how to describe today's contribution.  Is it theoretical, is it historical, is it analytical, is it something else? Basically what you will be reading is a letter written by Anne Braden to white southern women.

Hopefully you have heard of Anne Braden.   As described by the Anne Braden Institute, she, "...  was a racial justice organizer and journalist, whose outlook was global but whose activism was concentrated at the grassroots level."   In the 1950's, she was indicted on charges of sedition in a famous case after she helped buy a house for a black family in an all-white suburb of Louisville, Ky.  Anne was one of the first white southerners singled out for praise by Martin Luther King and aptly so.  

Amazingly, in 1967, the Bradens were again indicted on charges of sedition, for helping to organize a protest against strip mining in eastern Kentucky. That year, in connection with the case, a federal court in Lexington declared the state's antisedition law unconstitutional.

Media Database writes of her:

Braden was born in Louisville, the daughter of a socially if not always economically privileged family, and grew up in the segregated Mississippi and Alabama of the 1920s and ‘30s. In the early 1940s she attended women’s colleges in Virginia where she was influenced by a number of independent, intellectually curious, and politically sophisticated women. She began a career as a newspaper reporter in Anniston and then Birmingham but the horrors of the Jim Crow South that she witnessed as a court reporter began a wrenching process of breaking with the segregationist and privileged society to which she belonged. Fleeing the Deep South, she took a job with the Louisville Times. There she met and married Carl Braden, a working class German-Catholic and fellow reporter who was heavily involved in popular front and Progressive Party politics. Anne’s recollections of growing up, starting her journalism career, and beginning to see the South for what it was will be visualized with early photos and archival film of Alabama environs.

Braden vividly tells the story of an attempt to breach the color line in Louisville that ultimately led her to “the crossroads.” In 1954 at the height of the Cold War and the anti-communist crusade led by Sen. Joseph McCarthy, and a week before the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, Anne and Carl Braden bought a house in an all-white neighborhood for a black couple, Andrew and Charlotte Wade, who were unable to purchase it due to racial restrictions in real estate. This act resulted in mob violence against the Wades and bombing of the house. Anne recounts:The Prosecuting Attorney said there were two theories.  One was that the house was bombed by the neighbors to get rid of the Wades. The other was that this was all a communist plot to foment race hatred in order to overthrow the government of the state of Kentucky.  Lew Lubka, a member of the Wade Defense Committee, recalls being pulled before the Grand Jury and asked, out of the blue, "Were you ever or are you now a member of the Communist Party?"  Although Carl Braden answered “No” he was found guilty of sedition and served 8 months of a 15 year sentence.  From that point on the Bradens vowed never to give that question legitimacy by answering it. Numerous photos and newspaper headlines as well a 1980s ABC News documentary interview with Andrew Wade and some of the angry neighbors illustrate this story.

During her first night in jail after the Sedition charge Anne wrote, “There come times in everyone’s life when he must go back to the crossroads – to determine who he is, from whence he came, what he believes in, and from this knowledge to draw the inner strength that he needs to meet the challenges of life.  This is a traumatic experience that has jolted me back to the crossroads.” That jolt led Anne Braden into a lifetime of social justice activism, but one in which she and Carl (who died in 1975) were blacklisted, red-baited, imprisoned and shunned, even by many in the civil rights and civil liberties movements, for over 30 years.
Nowhere in this country was the Cold War’s silencing so vivid as in the South. Anne’s account of these events is precise and chilling.  She demonstrates what happens when civil liberties are violated in a time of national fear, when dissent is equated with disloyalty. Dr. Catherine Fosl, Braden biographer, will dig deeply into this facet of Braden’s story, providing a searing analysis of how anti-communism buttressed white supremacy and the price paid by those who struggled against that deadly partnership. Professor/activist Angela Davis draws striking parallels between these events of the 1950s and the anti-terrorism actions of the government recently. Excerpts from a 1965  “educational” film produced by the Alabama State Sovereignty Commission pinpoint members of the alleged communist conspiracy within the civil rights movement, including the Bradens as well as every other prominent civil rights leader, and illustrate the intense red-baiting of the times.

Black-listed from employment, the Bradens went to work for the Southern Conference Education Fund, sharing one salary and traveling the South seeking support for the civil rights movement, especially in white communities. For almost 20 years Anne edited The Southern Patriot, developing SCEF’s monthly newsletter into the movement paper of that era and a major organizing tool. Southern Patriot headlines, photos, and recitations of Anne’s most important stories and editorials will highlight the impact of this work.

In the mid-60s as blacks sought greater leadership of the movement in the South, many young and idealistic whites looked for a place to continue the effort for social change, often turning to SCEF, where the Bradens’ increased efforts to organize working class whites in the belief they were logical allies of the civil rights movement through the GROW Project in Mississippi and Southern Mountain Project in Appalachian Kentucky. Organizing against coal interests in Kentucky led to a second sedition charge: this time the law was quickly ruled unconstitutional.

Undeterred by the attempts to marginalize her as a“subversive,” Braden lived as a freedom fighter whose unflagging drive, patience, and compassion showed other white people, and African Americans as well, what is possible in the struggle to end racism and white privilege. She describes finding her strength and endurance for 60 years of struggle through her participation in what she called “the Other America” – her vision of Dr.King’s “Beloved Community,” a physical and a moral network where people of all races, classes, genders, and creeds are engaged in a struggle for an America that lives up to its principles. She believed that in order to find the soul of that struggle, white people needed to give up the privileges they were born into. She fought for that transformation in her personal life and in our society.

Anne Braden died in 2006.

Anne Braden was a truly inspiring and awesome human  being who I had the honor and pleasure of meeting a few times and in different decades....

The following is from the blog Why Am I Not Surprised.

A Letter to White Southern Women from Anne Braden

As I mention from time to time, I've been studying the socially-constructed, political notion of "race" for fifty years now. That's a while. But I just keep learning. Which amazes me.

A year or so ago, one of my students mentioned Anne Braden because the Flobots had sampled one of her speeches to include in a spoken word/rap cut on one of their albums. The student thought she sounded like me -- and she did. But she sounded like me nowback in the 1960's, so I was impressed.

Then, last month, Appalshop (an arts and social justice collective in the mountains of Kentucky in a little tiny town named for one of my notorious and very likely super racist ancestors) came out with a documentary entitled "Anne Braden ~ Southern Patriot."And now we can see her in action for ourselves.

Braden was the genuine article, the no-holds-barred, go-for-broke, take-no-prisoners real deal. And the film is beyond inspiring and all the way into challenging. At the risk of sounding like all the other commercial hawkers out there, I'm going to say this film is a must-see if you're a regular reader of this blog. You can buy the film directly from Appalshop or from California Newsreel. Or you can ask your local public or school library to buy it (they have money for this sort of thing and are just waiting for people to make good suggestions).

To whet your appetite, there's a letter floating around from Anne Braden to White Southern women. I've edited it slightly to leave out a few lines that are now untimely. But this will give you a sense of who she was and how far short many of the rest of us fall when it comes to the fight for social justice.

A Letter to White Southern Women from Anne Braden

I believe that no White woman reared in the South – or perhaps anywhere in this racist country – can find freedom as a woman until she deals in her own consciousness with the question of race. We grow up little girls – absorbing a hundred stereotypes about ourselves and our role in life, our secondary position, our destiny to be a helpmate to a man or men. But we also grow up White – absorbing the stereotypes of race, the picture of ourselves as somehow privileged because of the color of our skin. The two mythologies become intertwined, and there is no way to free ourselves from one without dealing with the other.

The awareness never comes easily – and perhaps it comes to each of us in a different way. Perhaps for my generation it was a bit easier – when the mythologies were acted out more obviously and more crudely than today.

For me, the awareness began 26 years ago in a courtroom in Birmingham, Alabama.  I was 22, a young newspaper reporter, covering the courthouse. That day, a young Black man was being tried – not for rape, but something called "assault with intent to ravish." A young White woman testified that he passed her on the opposite side of a country road and looked at her in an "insulting" way. He was sentenced to 20 years.

I was appalled by the case. Torn by what was happening to the Black man. But torn, too, as I watched the White woman. She appeared to be very poor, but she had obviously dressed in her best – and for that day she was queen in the courtroom. The judge, the prosecutor, her father who told of her fright when she came in from that walk – all rallied round to defend her honor.

Later that day, I told the prosecutor I thought the conviction and sentence had been terribly unfair. "Now don't you worry your little head about things like that," he said. "As long as I'm prosecutor in this county, we're going to protect our women."

He smiled at me in a confiding way – as if we were on the same side in some great battle – and began telling me about another case, new information, a "scoop" for my paper because we would report it before the competition paper.

I felt a smothering sensation – and left his office as soon as I could. It was not until much later that I was able to articulate my feelings that day. At the time, I wondered how that woman could do this cruel thing to the Black man – sending him to prison for 20 years for absolutely nothing. It was only later that I realized the horror of what she was doing to herself.

Tomorrow, after her day as a queen, she would go back to a life of poverty and boredom: waiting on her father, on her brothers, and someday on a husband – paying with a lifetime of drudgery for those magic moments when she could achieve the status of a wronged White woman.

It was even longer before I realized that my conflicts that day also arose from questions about myself – before I came to understand that my position and that of the woman on the witness stand were not very different after all.

I thought I was different. At 22, I had already had an image of myself as a "free" woman – today, the term would be "liberated." I had grown up in Alabama, where the role of women in my world was clearly defined: make yourself as attractive as possible to men; hide the fact that you have a brain since men don't like smart women; learn to make men feel important; be a belle of the ball; marry and have children and make a home.

I had rejected that and chosen a career, in which I was doing well. People at the newspaper said I was one of the best reporters they had ever had; I managed to get the news no one else could, and I knew how to write it.

Yet, sitting that day in the prosecutor's office, I was just one more brainless woman. By my acquiescence, I was part of the conspiracy that said White women must be protected. Even my news-gathering ability was perhaps not real after all, but rather the result of the attitudes of White officials around the courthouse who saw me as one more woman to "protect."

I could not articulate any of this at the time – but I knew something was wrong, and this and many similar instances finally made me flee Birmingham – feeling that if I got away from Alabama and the South, I could escape the forces that seemed to be smothering me.

It was after I took another newspaper job in Louisville, Kentucky – seeing it then as a way stop to the North and further development of a career – that I became involved in the organized civil rights movement. Then I began to analyze. I met people in the movement and talked with them. I began to read things I'd never heard of before.

And so, of course, I learned that I was not the first Southern White woman who had been torn by these conflicts. I learned about the White women who fought in the Abolitionist movement against slavery – and, in the process, began to achieve their own freedom.

I learned, too, a little history of the South – how rape had been made a capital crime only after the Civil War, after Reconstruction brought poor Whites and Blacks in the South together to create a better society. It was then that those who formerly ruled had to institute a new terror to come back to power. And how between 1890 until the 1930's, thousands of Black men were lynched, many of them because of the cry of rape.

And how it was a group of White women in the South who first spoke out dearly against this – in the 1930's. They organized the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching and declared to the world that they were tired of being used as an excuse for the killing of Black men and they'd protect themselves, thank you. I identified with those women, although I had never met any of them – and sensed that herein lay the road to my own freedom.

By this time, lynching had declined in the South – partly because of the work of those women. But the lynchers had moved into the courthouses, where they still reside today. But by then there were fights around some of the most atrocious cases.

The Scottsboro Case in Alabama (about which I only knew vaguely as a child – although it was happening all around me) had awakened many people. In Virginia, Whites as well as Blacks were fighting for the lives of the Martinsville Seven.

A turning point in my life came when I became involved in the case of Willie McGee. McGee was a Black man sentenced to die for the rape of a White woman in Laurel, Mississippi. His accuser was another of the South's tragic women.

Laurel is a town whose political and economic life was dominated then – as it is now – by the Masonite Corporation. Masonite workers at one time had a union that had the reputation of being the most militant in Mississippi.

McGee was arrested in November, 1945 – at the height of the post World War II strike wave that was sweeping the country. His case, which went on until 1951 and brought 1,500 cheering Whites to the courthouse lawn on the night he was finally executed, kept Laurel in turmoil for almost six years. It played an important part in maintaining the gulf between Black and White workers on which Masonite thrives.

The McGee case became the focal point of an international campaign. The fight did not save McGee's life; he was executed on May 8, 1951. The state of Mississippi was determined to kill him, and at one point the governor said in a public statement that if the state did not kill McGee he would do it himself. But I never felt the campaign really failed. It clarified the issues as nothing else had, except perhaps the Scottsboro case, and the lives of many other Black men were saved because of it.

After that, for several years at least, public officials were more careful about making random arrests for rape.

One of the historic features of the campaign was a mobilization of White women throughout the country to say what those Southern women in the 30's had said, what I was now feeling so strongly: "We are women, we are human beings, we will no longer be used as things, as tools of White supremacy."

Several delegations of White women from across the country went to Mississippi at various times – to talk to the women there, to take their message to the heart of the monster. I went down from Kentucky where I was then living, with the last delegation – the weekend before the execution. Ours was a last-minute effort; our mission was to see the governor, to state the case for the nation's White women.

We never got to see the governor. Jackson was tense that day – police mobilized on every corner to head off an expected demonstration of Blacks from the surrounding countryside. As we were preparing to cross the street to walk to the capitol building, we were arrested. Actually they did not call it arrest; they said we were in "protective custody." So they put us in a jail cell. It struck me as symbolic of what the South's protection of its White women really means.

I rode to the police station in a patrol car with two other members of our delegation on the back seat along with one burly cop – and two more cops on the front seat. One of those in front was making comments all the way: "You girls ought to go back where you came from; you don't know anything about our problems in the South."

I stood it as long as I could and then I said: "I think I know a good bit about the South. I grew up in Alabama – and before that I lived in Mississippi as a small child. As a matter of fact, here in Jackson. And I'm ashamed of the city of my childhood today."

At that point the mood of the cop in the front seat changed from contempt to fury. He had thought we were all "yankees." Traitors are worse. "And you're here on this – why you…you are not fit to be called a Southern woman. You ought to be killed."

He turned as if to hit me, and hesitated long enough for the cop on the back seat to say, "Wait a minute, Joe," and for me to simply look at him and say, "No, I think I'm not your kind of Southern woman." I guess I must have stared him down, because he turned around and contented himself with growling insults the rest of the way to the station.

What I had said to him, of course, was not exactly what I meant. One can always think later of what it would have been better to say in a tense moment. And this was before I had really analyzed my own feelings as a woman and what was happening to me in those years. Looking at it in retrospect, I think what I was really saying was: "No, I have had enough. From this time on, you and the society you represent will not define me. I will define myself."

But then, in that moment, I only knew that I suddenly felt free – really free for the first time in my life, free that day I spent in the jail cell, the first time I'd been in jail. I think now that I knew instinctively even then that I had reached a turning point in my life – and in a sense, a point of no return.

No longer was I the helpless victim of a "protective" society as I had been that day in Birmingham in the prosecutor's office. In a single moment of action, I had placed myself on the "other side" – the other side from that cop who at first wanted to protect me, and when I didn't want to be protected, wanted to kill me…the other side from the prosecutor who took my brain and my humanity away from me by granting me favors as a young reporter because I was an attractive woman…the other side from the people in Mississippi who were determined to kill Willie McGee, who had made his accuser a heroine for a time, and used her for all of her life…the other side from the people I had grown up with, who had taught me so carefully where a woman's place was…the other side from the rulers of the South who treated Black people like children and put White women on “pedestals” – and turned on both in fury when they asserted their humanity…I was on the other side from the death and decay that gripped the society I lived in.

For in an exploitive society, there are always two sides. And at some point, one must choose.

Perhaps because of my own experience, I have believed ever since that the choice comes not in areas of thought and theory – but in some moment of action. An action that puts us on the "other side”…

Perhaps the real difference now as compared with the time of the McGee case over 20 years ago is that then there were forces on the left in this country that were making this kind of struggle a focal point of their work and organizing. Willie McGee was not the only Black man sentenced to die for rape in that period – but his case was particularly atrocious and people who understood the issues organized around it, dramatized it – and thus illuminated for many people the depth of the racist myths that imprisoned us all.

Racism has not declined in this country since then; in many ways, it has embedded itself more deeply in our minds and institutions. There is an illusion to the contrary, because of the small gains won by the civil rights movement that crested in the South 10 years after the McGee case.

These gains were real – won by the blood and tears of many people, and the lives of some. But they were only a beginning, only a scratching of the surface. And suddenly a smug and self-satisfied White America turned away, said the battle was over – as the racists moved to recover the ground they had lost, to crush the Black movement wherever they could and to fix firmly in the hands of the powerful White few the ultimate control of our society.

Just how successful they have been is indicated by the current national retreat on the issue of school desegregation – a question many of us thought had been decided in 1954.

What the myths of racism do to us as White women may not come to everyone as dramatically as it did to me – in Birmingham, Alabama, and in Jackson, Mississippi. But it impinges on the lives of us all.

For example – recently, in Memphis, Tennessee, underpaid White women workers in a small factory were persuaded to vote against a union because the company told them a victory for the union would mean they would be associating on a basis of equality with Black men in the plant. This was an affront to their "Southern White
womanhood," and to preserve that ancient myth they sacrificed the chance of better pay, food on their tables, and a more decent life for their children.

I am aware that my appeal to you to take up the fight…comes at a time when the women's movement in this country is struggling to make our society recognize and deal with the crime of rape. My position is not at odds with this struggle; it is simply another dimension.

For the fact is that…most real rapes go unpunished – and often unreported – because of the contempt with which police treat the complaining woman. Police and the society generally extend "protection" only to women who are willing to be pawns in their game.

I don't think all this will change until women – organized and strong and asserting their humanity – demand it.

We haven't had that kind of strength – and don't now – because of the deep chasm that divides White women from Black in our society, a chasm created by crimes committed in the name of White womanhood.

It may seem paradoxical – but in this racist society we who are White will overcome our oppression as women only when we reject once and for all the privileges conferred on us by our White skin. For the privileges are not real – they are a device through which we are kept under control.

We can make a beginning toward building a really strong women's movement as we openly reject and fight racist myths that have kept us divided. We can begin by joining with our Black sisters – and go on…from there to free others, and ourselves.

There is an epilogue to my experience in the Willie McGee case. Several months after his execution, I met his widow, Rosalie McGee, who had worked day and night for six years trying to save him, traveling the length and breadth of the land. After he was electrocuted, she continued in the fight for freedom for other Blacks for a number of years.

She has since died, but for a time it was my privilege to work with her in some of these efforts. We did not know each other well, we lived in different parts of the country, we saw each other only a few times – I doubt that I ever particularly stood out in her mind, any more than the many other women White and Black with whom she was working.

But I felt a deep kinship with her – and with the other women I met during that campaign for her husband's life. For one of the things that came home to me in that period was how the myth of White womanhood had separated us from our Black sisters. In that moment in Jackson when I "changed sides," some of those barriers began to fall – first within myself, then with others. And I began to glimpse what true sisterhood can mean.

In that period, there was a black poet named Beulah Richardson who wrote a long poem that summed it all up. It was called "A Black Woman Speaks of White Womanhood," and it said in part:

"It is right that I a woman
should speak of white womanhood.
My fathers
my brothers
my sons
die for it, because of it.
And their blood
Chilled in electric chairs,
stopped by hangman's noose
cooked by lynch mobs' fire,
spilled by white supremacist mad desire to kill for profit,
gives me that right.
I would that I could speak of white womanhood
as it will and should be
when it stands tall in full equality.
But then, womanhood will be womanhood
void of color and of class,
and all necessity for my speaking thus will be past.
Gladly past."

Friday, September 21, 2012


It is Friday and that means the focus is on prison.

How about a graphic that gives a pretty grim depiction of the prison industrial complex.

It comes from the web site of Rehab Today.

You may have to enlarge it to really see it...or just click on the graphic below and you will be rushed off to the original source where the graphic is plenty large.

The Prison Industrial Complex – Infographic

With more and more studies revealing how private prisons don’t save public money, the for-profit caging of America is clearly little more than a growing outlet of corporate greed. Take a look at the current state of the private prison system, and see why our criminals are our problem – not something to be passed off to private interests.

The Prison Industrial Complex – Infographic

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Tired of the same old Scission.  Today will be different.  This isn't a big news story, or even a little one.  This isn't some in depth analysis or some long winded theoretical piece.  This is something else.  It is a little sad at first and a little happy at last.  It's a tale of the San Francisco Bay, but for the vast majority of us who do not live there it likely will still ring true.

Of course, you might have to ride the bus...

The following is from Poor Magazine/Prensa Pobre..

Black and Brown Laughter

PNNscholar1 - Posted on 19 September 2012
 Tony Robles
If you’re a native San Franciscan you know the sound. It’s as sweet as the smell of BBQ ribs and cornbread and sweet potato pie when the city had soul food restaurants all over with black folks cooking in black kitchens on black grills with black pots and pans bubbling music in the background, in the foreground—all over. Imagine that, black folks cooking soul food in a soul food restaurant—not like what you see when you walk in the city today. The black and brown laughter I grew up with was nourishment, it told me where my mother and father had been, where my ancestors had been, it told me who I was. Black and brown laughter, like the smell of adobo, tortillas and rice, chow mein—nourishing us and keeping us fighting for things that mattered—our elders and children and community; black and brown laughter, the sound of struggle, the sound of strength—the sound of legacy; the laughter of our skin, with the scars and sweat filling the air with the fragrance of our lives. San Francisco, where is the black and brown laughter? All I hear is empty chatter, tinny voiced cell phone code, no laughter, no music, no nothing.
But sometimes you hear it. It comes like a friend who knows you, who’s glad to see you. And the beautiful sound came to me a couple days ago. I was on Muni heading home. I was anticipating a surly driver followed by a bus full of empty faces. The driver was a Filipino guy who grew up in the city—a Filipino who’d grown up in the barrio, the ghetto, the neighborhood. How’d I know? It was his voice and the way he tilted his head to the side. He said 4 words: How you doin’ brother? It was the voice of ungentrified Frisco, the voice of my father, my uncles—the voice of my life. I felt relaxed and alive, like I’d walked into my grandma’s old living room. He drove several blocks before coming to a stop. He rose from his seat to make way for the relief driver. The relief guy got on and the switch took place. It was an African-American brother, from the city too—I could tell by his voice, his laughter. The two drivers talked to each other, laughter of black and brown intertwined and beautiful. It was voices saying, “You ain’t right man” and “All right now” and “Man…you late again…what you doin’, starin’ at all the girls?” And the men looked at me and I said, “No, the brother was on top of it…he wasn’t lollygaggin’…fo’ real”.
And they laughed, their laughter drawing me in. I felt at home in a city that’s feeling less like home.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012



Remember the movie  EXODUS.  It was about a ship of Jewish refugees trying to make it into British controlled Palestine seeking refuge.  The British did all they could to keep the refugees out.  Eventually, the story turned into to a romanticized view of the birth of the Israeli state and of zionism.

Time for a new movie.

Anyway, fast forward to an Israel today which does all it can to turn back African refugees seeking asylum at the border and when that doesn't work making life as miserable as possible for the asylum seekers....all in violation of international law.

Just a few days ago about 20 Eritrean asylum seekers were stuck and starved in a no man's land between Israel and Egypt, between the border fences.  Eventually according to authorities in Israel the refugees agreed to go back to Egypt.  What really happened was that the Eritreans were teargassed and forced with metal rods toward the Egyptian border where the border guards said they didn't want the men, but they would take the women...and rape them (ah, in some places the Israeli Jewish State and the Egyptian Muslim can find a place to cooperate).  Eventually, the Israeli's decided to take the women and "send the men away."

Israel itself never bothered to officially find out what happened to the migrants who were "sent away."  The High Court of Israel ruled against a petition filed by We Are /refugees to find out what happened to the refugees.

From +972 comes the following:

Israeli officials suggested to the press that the 18 men weren’t interested in asylum, only in work, and suggested that they “agreed” to turn themselves over to the Egyptian army. The affidavits of the three detainees, taken separately at the Saharonim detention compound and released to +972 by “We Are Refugees” attorneys, tell a very different story. The fate of the 18 men forcibly returned to the Egyptians remains unknown, and the Prime Minister’s Office has been denying request for comments on their situation and whereabouts. 

…And then they moved us to the Israeli-Egyptian border, we stayed there for eight days, the hunger and thirst were horrible, the Israelis shot gas at us twice, they shoved a long iron rod through the fence and tried pushing us away. [On the 8th day] the Israeli crossed over and pulled B., N., and me through the fence and threw the other men onto a tarp and dragged them underneath the Egyptian fence. The men had been begging for eight days and on the eighth day they didn’t have any strength to resist, they were fainting and screaming “kill me right here.”

After what we went through everything that B. told you, me and another man were the first to get to the fence. Shooting started from both sides and we started digging. The Israeli soldiers took a long piece of iron and tried pushing us away through the holes in the fence. After we tried breaking through the fence they gassed us. We held onto the fence and wouldn’t let go. When I saw them mending and closing the fence again I fainted. The Israeli soldiers gave me an infusion through the fence. Every day the Israelis said “go to your country” and the Egyptians said we’ll take the women, we don’t want the men, and indicated with their rifles that they’d rape us and spoke about the two women they’ve been raping until now. We begged the Israelis and they said we’ll take the women and let the men go back. The men said we’d rather die here than go back. The Israelis crossed the fence to our side, we scattered in fear and the Israeli soldiers lifted the fence on the Egyptian side, grabbed the men and forcefully shoved them under the fence, to the Egyptian side. The men resisted and screamed, kill us right here, but to no avail. Then they took me, B. and V. to the Israeli side.

And then we saw the fence and right away the Israeli army showed up and told us in Arabic to go back to Egypt, fired into the air and tried driving us off with an iron rod and the Egyptian soldiers said don’t come back. After two days the men tried breaking through the fence and they shot tear gas at us, our eyes burned, we started crying and begging, please save us. A general with rank insignia showed up, a car came and fixed the fence, N. fainted, they started welding the fence and it became hot and the people who were holding onto the fence had their hands burned every day they told us go to Egypt…  The Israelis heard the Egyptians threaten us women and so on Thursday, the Israelis came and said you [men] go and we’ll take the women because we fear the Egyptians will rape them, the “ranks” [officer - D.R.] said women go in and you men go, and the men said, we’ll die, take us in as well. So they started talking at them through a bullhorn, called me because I speak Arabic and D., who speaks English, and said, the men go back, the women go in. The Israelis cut the fence and crossed to our side, and told the Egyptians, come and get them, but the Egyptians wouldn’t come, so we stayed on their side. A lot of the men were unconscious, we crawled in and I saw the others go back and the Egyptian soldiers waiting. We were taken, N. was unconscious, they lifted her and took us to be checked in a military place and then we got to Saharonim.

Holy shit!

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz wrote in an opinion piece:

This shameful incident cannot be allowed to pass quietly. The authorities must immediately launch a probe into who gave the order to treat the migrants this way - in violation of international refugee law and the international conventions Israel has signed - and punish the guilty parties. The way the High Court of Justice evaded hearing the case - first by postponing the hearing for three days, then by deciding that the issue had become moot - is also very disturbing.

In its treatment of migrants from Africa, Israel is gradually degenerating toward committing crimes against humanity. According to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, such crimes include broad or systematic assaults on a civilian population. The brutal expulsion of 18 Eritreans doesn't meet this definition, but the interior minister's plan to jail tens of thousands of migrants without trial for three years or more might very well be such a crime. The state must stop this degeneration immediately.

It is bad at the border.

Guess doesn't stop there.

The following is from +972.

Mistreatment of refugees not limited to border

Although the recent incident on Israel’s southern border involving Eritrean asylum seekers received international attention, structural violence against African refugees has been going on for over five years now. It is important to remember that those who make it in face enormous difficulties due to state policies.
Earlier this month, 21 Eritrean asylum seekers, including a 14-year-old child and two women, spent over a week trapped between fences on the Israeli side of the Israeli-Egyptian border. As the temperatures soared, the group was not provided with any shelter; the “most moral army in the world” gave the refugees only small amounts of water and scraps of cloth to protect themselves from the sun.
Soldiers did not give them food and turned away the activists who tried to bring the asylum seekers something to eat.
After the two women and the child were let into Israel – where they were taken to prison – and the men were returned to Egypt, reports surfaced that the army behaved violently towards these refugees. According to the three who entered, soldiers shot tear gas at the group and used an iron pole in an attempt to push them back to Egypt. The 18 men who were returned to Egypt were returned by force.
International law prohibits states from forcibly returning asylum seekers to countries where their lives or liberty might be in danger, as does the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention, to which Israel is a signatory.
While this was a dramatic example of the Israeli army’s treatment of the refugees, African refugees in Israel have faced the state’s structural violence and an increasingly hostile public for over six years.
Although small numbers of African asylum seekers have been coming to Israel since the 1980s, a tremendous majority of the 60,000 refugees who are here now have arrived since 2005. More than 80 per cent are from war-torn Sudan or Eritrea, which are gripped by brutal dictatorships. After they enter the country, usually via the Egyptian border, those who are caught are jailed without charge for an arbitrary period; when Israel needs to make way for more prisoners, the asylum seekers are dumped in south Tel Aviv and other cities.
For those bearing the scars of war, detention in Israel is traumatizing. Sunday Dieng, a 26-year-old asylum seeker, left his village in South Sudan when he was 10 years old after he saw his parents murdered by Sudanese forces. In Egypt, Dieng says, he faced racism and violence on the street. So, in 2006, he headed to Israel – only to spend his first 14 months behind bars.
“To live in jail for one year and two months for no reason … it’s terrible, it’s very difficult,” Dieng says. “It causes some damage to the [mind], because you know you didn’t do anything wrong, you didn’t do any crime.” Although Dieng was an adult when he arrived, unaccompanied minors make up a significant part of Israel’s refugee population. And those children are also detained without charge.
Once out of jail, the state either refuses to process refugees’ individual requests for asylum or arbitrarily rejects them without adequately investigating their claims. Instead, Israel gives citizens of Sudan and Eritrea group protection. So they get visas, but not work visas – forcing refugees onto the black market where they face exploitation.
Many are unable to find jobs at all and, because they do not have citizenship or residency, they do not get help from the state. South Tel Aviv’s parks are filled with homeless, emaciated refugees. Others scrape by on odd jobs and live in crowded apartments; sometimes two dozen asylum seekers will share a single room.
Their children, even those who are born here and speak fluent Hebrew, are not recognized by the state. Although they can attend municipal kindergartens and schools from the age of three, before then, their parents don’t get help paying for day-care as poor Israelis do. So they are forced to send their toddlers to cheaper, unregulated black market day-cares, places one NGO worker refers to as “storage of children”.
Mimi Hylameshesh, a single mother from Eritrea, earns approximately 2,000 Israeli shekels (about 500 US dollars) a month working as a house cleaner. Her rent is 1,500 shekels; day-care for her toddler runs another 600 shekels. What about food?
She shrugs and looks away, embarrassed. “It’s hard for me,” Hylameshesh says. But her child always eats.
When Hylameshesh doesn’t have the money, she goes without–just like those 21 refugees who spent over a week on the border.