Africans Rally in Jerusalem for Release of Refugees
In the canon of Zionist mythos, there are few tales as heroic as those of Jewish refugees braving the dangers of illegal immigration to The United States and Palestine. Prior to and during WWII, they came by the boatloads from Europe, attempting to breach British defenses, or petitioning “the greatest democracy on Earth” for asylum, in hopes of gaining refuge from the genocidal fate awaiting them at the hands of the Nazis.
Few are unaware of the tragic story of the SS St. Louis, the immigrant runner ship that, once denied entry to the United States, was forced to return to Europe, jeopardizing the lives of nearly 1,000 Jewish refugees. Likewise, there is the infamous tale of The Exodus, the Aliyah Bet ship which was captured by the British Navy and returned to Germany where its passengers were interred in displaced persons camps.
Such stories are often used to illustrate the world’s moral failure in its treatment of the Jewish people, thereby substantiating the necessity of the State of Israel. The story of The Exodus itself was later immortalized in Leon Uris’ famous novel which has since inspired the commitment of countless young Jews to Zionism, myself included.
How soon we forget.
African residents of Israel rally for the release of asylum seekers.
More photos here.
In the last decade, hundreds of Africans have fled on foot through the North African desert to Israel seeking respite from the ongoing strife in nations such as Sudan, The Republic of Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone, only to beg the Jewish people — those who have endured a similar historical fate — for refuge. These brave men and women are now meeting a fate no different from that which which our predecessors faced at the hands of the British, as they are being held captive in Israeli prisons while awaiting deportation back to their native lands. Many are refugees from Darfur, who have come to Israel to escape genocide.
To say that Israel’s actions towards these refugees are hypocritical is an understatement. To say that they undermine the legitimacy of the Zionist endeavor would be more apropos, as our historical experience of the very same human atrocity is an axiom upon which the existence of Israel rests.
This was the message I received from many whom I spoke with today that were present for a rally staged earlier in the day by several Israeli human rights organizations, demanding asylum for African refugees. Dozens of African residents and foreign workers gathered outside the Prime Minister’s house this morning holding Israeli and African flags and banners bearing the words of the prophet Isaiah, “And what is of your flesh do not ignore.” They later marched on Zion Square in downtown Jerusalem where they delivered speeches in Hebrew, English and French, and shared with us the words of Sudanese refugees currently being held prisoner despite a High Court ruling ordering their release.
I implore all who perceive of Zionism as a people’s liberation movement, as I do, to take an active stance on behalf of these refugees. Please contact Israel’s representatives in the US and Jerusalem and demand justice for African asylum seekers, lest we permit our silence to result in further hypocrisy and tragedy.