Israel, Justice

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.

21 thoughts on “Africans Rally in Jerusalem for Release of Refugees

  1. While I agree that asylum seeking Africans should have their process sped up, seeking legal status in Israel is bueracratically different for everyone, especially those who essentially sneak into the border with bedouin help. It’s important to be critical of the issue, but the government and kibbutzim have also been doing wonderful things to get these people into a safe, productive place . More will come, I’m sure. I think this protest is wonderful, it says there is a broad group of people in Jewish Israel concious of the issue.

  2. I certainly don’t want more illegals flooding our borders. And there are plenty of “our own flesh” – Ethiopian Jews – waiting to move here. Yes, their rescue and absorption should take precedence over non-Jews – that’s how this Israeli wants his tax dollars to be spent.
    Guess what? Israel is not a mini America. It never set itself up as a refuge for all the downtrodden, or a melting pot of nations.
    It’s the Jewish national homeland.
    We have a right to restrict who comes in, and how.
    Soft-hearted – and headed! – policies based on mercy will wind up flooding this country with people who have little allegience or cultural affinity to our country or people. We already have big social problems caused by illegal workers coming here – and like every country that is attractive to migrants, we have to implement a firm policy.

  3. so rather than facilitating their migration to countries where they can be granted full asylum, we should ship em back to sudan to be murdered?
    b”h i don’t view you as a representative of torah true judaism.

  4. C’mon Mobius,
    You know Israel only cares about one kind of refugee…..
    Or to quote Daniel Craig in Munich:
    “The only blood I care about is Jewish blood!!!!”

  5. actually, as harry pointed out earlier, israel has helped many non-jewish vietnamese and serbian refugees, let alone russians.

  6. I know, I know, I’m just taking the piss…
    But how many of those non-Jewish Russians still qualified under the law of return? Hasn’t there been a good amount of controversy regarding that?

  7. “Zionism as a people’s liberation movement” Liberating the natives from thier land, I guess. I got into a conversation with a foolish so-called zionist the other day (actually, I’ll be printing a comic based on the episode); he, with a straight face, stated that “Israel” was his homeland. I laughed (of course). I asked when his dissendants came from “Israel” — turned out it was his great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, and then some grandparents who were forced out of “Israel.” Yeah, that gives you the right to the Arab’s olive grove. How can people really buy into an argument like this. If you think that between two people, one a New York Zionist whose great, great, etc… and the other a Palestinian farmer, that it is the Jew who has a right to that land…well, you don’t really get what is meant by “right,” do you?

  8. brian — you’re conflating two separate issues
    a) the right of jews to live in their ancient homeland
    b) the right of palestinians to live in their recent homeland
    you could just as easily say
    c) everyone has a right to live anywhere they choose
    d) anyone who — based on ethnicity alone — tries to deprive someone else of their right to settle somewhere is a bigot
    instead, palestinians are innocent native olive farmers and jews are driving them off their land. the land belongs to god, first of all. second of all, it’s a false paradigm you’ve set up and it ignores all the legitimate land aqusition and settlement which took place prior to (and today still after) israel’s war of independence.

  9. Whoa, wait a minute!
    ” has since inspired the commitment of countless young Jews to Zionism, myself included.”
    You’re a Zionist now??
    I strongly disagree with one of your statements; I don’t think Israel is being hypocritical.
    Although we have helped the oppressed in many cases (There’s a reason Haifa is the Baha’i capital) we never set out to be a refuge to all peoples.
    I would argue that our empathy for their situation should be great, but I don;t think that we have a political responsibility to take them in, particularly given the major complication that Sudan is an enemy state. That having been said, we might do well to help them find permanent settlements in other places
    I nonetheless thank you for posting about this.

  10. BS”D
    Thanks for writing about this, Dan. This is not the kind of story that’s so easy to find in the Canadian media.
    Whether or not non-Jewish refugees are allowed to immigrate to Israel, don’t we each have a responsibility as human beings to do what we can to stop genocide? Doesn’t Judaism call us to work diligently to end murder?
    What about giving of our money & resources, no matter where we live, to at least rescue survivours? Check out how you might be able to save or improve lives here.

  11. Guess what? Israel is not a mini America.
    It’s precisely BECAUSE Israel is not a mini-America that I’m disappointed not to see Israel doing right by these refugees.

  12. Dan –
    “so rather than facilitating their migration to countries where they can be granted full asylum”
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Oh I get it – if we put them on planes pointed in a different direction, we’re heroes instead of brutes. Is THAT all?! Thanks for clearing that up.
    Kindly explain what diplomatic repurcussions/sanctions will ensue from Israel dumping unwanted, undocumented refugees in other countries’ airports, hrmmm?
    Or we could just give them “temporary” visas – like most of the African people at that protest. We’ve NEVER had a problem with any of them going off documentation. Naaaaahh….
    Dan – can you come up with a solution that is both kind hearted AND practical?

  13. First of all, I don’t know what conflating means. Second of all, I start to space out when I hear arguments like these. Legitimate land acquisition? It’s all God’s land, anyway, afterall…
    Thanks for the laugh (cause, you were kidding, right?).
    Look, I know you feel like the land grab was legitmate. But that’s because what the matrix wants you to believe, mobious. I’m sorry, butI don’t believe that Jews have the right to set up a country in thier ancient homeland any more than I believe Christians have a right to do the same. Natilie Portman or the whiney jewish white girl from my seminar class (who went to Israel last summer…and that time, when she was in Israeal…and she was so totally scared when she went to the Sbarro pizzaria…and,oh my god, why do they hate us?) make me vomit as much as Britnany Spears would if she started talking about her homeland in the middle east or about how white jesus was.
    Anyway, I’ll think about your point. But think a little bit about how you’re using the term “settler.” I know American Natives don’t really appreciate the term – it’s a fairly offensive euphemisim.

  14. Do you really not know what conflating means?
    Because if you don’t, then I have no reason to believe you understood what Mobius meant by ‘legitimate land acquisition’ either.
    If yer gonna go all anti-zionistey, go for it, but at least try to know what you’re talking about. You don’t seem to be making any kind of argument other than that you don’t like Zionism.

  15. every time i hear a lefty speak about why “white european jews” have no legitimate right to live in israel, i come closer to the conclusion that their rejection of zionism is predicated on antisemitism

  16. Say folks, anyone ever hear of Devarim (Deutoronomy) 23:16: “You shall not deliver unto his master a bondsman that has escaped from his master unto you. He shall dwell with you, in the midst of you, in the place which he shall choose wihin of your gates, where he likes it best, you shall not wrong him.”
    That applies, according to the Talmud, to any servant, slave, or bondsman from another country. To me, interpreting it to include refugees from genocide is a no-brainer.

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