Israel and the ‘Holy Land’: The Religio-Political Discourse of Rights among African Migrant Labourers and African Asylum Seekers, 1990-2008

in African Diaspora
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Abstract

The religious arena created in Israel by sub-Saharan African migrants from 1990-2008 was an expanded and flexible one which touched on complex questions related not only to what some may term “purely” religious themes but, among other issues, to identity and rights. The present paper compares two waves of migration,<xref ref-type="fn" rid="FN1">1</xref> the first arriving in Israel by air as tourists or pilgrims throughout the 1990s, mainly from West Africa, part of a larger worldwide expansion of African international labour migration; and the second, which started in 2005, of predominantly Sudanese and Eritreans, who entered the country illegally in search of asylum or work opportunities across its lax border with Egypt. While the former cohort deployed a religious rhetoric of attachment to the Holy Land, the latter invoked international human rights to claim their rights as refugees in addition to religious rhetoric. The paper considers the context and grounds for this shift in political tactics and rhetoric of migrant discursive stance vis-à-vis the state.

Israel and the ‘Holy Land’: The Religio-Political Discourse of Rights among African Migrant Labourers and African Asylum Seekers, 1990-2008

in African Diaspora

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