Haifa is one of Israel’s newest port cities, but it has become a hotbed of anti-Semitism after the arrival of several immigrants from Africa, the Middle East and other countries, according to locals.
They also complain that they are being singled out by the local authorities.
“We were told that we were not allowed to come here, and they threatened to put us in jail if we continued to live here,” said Yair Ben-David, a local shopkeeper.
“They also said that we are foreigners, that we should pay taxes or move away, because they are not here.”
Ben-David said that he and other residents of HaIFA are not allowed in the town center, even though the port is not a commercial center, because of a policy that forbids Jewish businesses from coming into the city.
The Haifa port, with its 1,600-meter long pier and more than 1,000 vessels, has been a center for the Jewish community for decades.
The port’s opening was hailed as a breakthrough for the city and a way to help Israel’s economy.
But since the arrival, some local residents have accused the port authorities of racism and discrimination.
In a petition to the Haifa city council, the Haaretz daily reported that the port has “repeatedly refused to allow the Jews to come and work in the city.”
The port is now a magnet for immigrants from African countries, Middle Eastern and other regions.
“This is not about Jews or the port, it is about a policy of exclusion and prejudice that has no place in Haifa,” Ben-Bechal said.
“It is also a message to the local Arab community that we will not tolerate anti-Arab discrimination.”
According to the Port Authority of Haaretz, there are no plans to build a second port in the Ha’avara area.
It did not respond to a request for comment.
Haifa residents also said they feel the police are not doing enough to combat anti-Semitic incidents.
“The police are trying to solve this problem by cracking down on people who are coming here and calling them anti-Semites and racists,” said Ben-Abraham, who did not want to give his last name.
“The police have no power, and there are not any laws that specifically address this problem.
They just ignore it.”
Ben Abed, a Haifa resident, said the police should also do more to address racism.
“It’s really not that easy,” he said.