Israel, Politics

Thousands rally for Darfur while Israel detains Sudanese

And people wonder why some of us are bitter about having to constantly battle the conflation of Israel with representing all Jews:

As American Jewish leaders were publicly calling on the Bush administration this week to do more to end the killing in Darfur, behind the scenes they were quietly pressing the Israeli government about its treatment of 160 imprisoned Sudanese refugees.
Over the past year, dozens of Sudanese asylum-seekers have crossed into Israel illegally, particularly after a protest by refugees in Egypt turned deadly last December. While Israel has said it will not send the refugees back to Sudan, the government is not letting them apply for asylum because Sudan is considered an enemy country. A law against infiltrators from enemy countries bars the refugees from appealing their cases in court, and most of them are currently being held in prisons or army bases…
Korzen said she found it ironic that Israel was using the infiltrator law as a reason not to give the Sudanese a haven as refugees when it was Israel itself that promoted a section in the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 requiring countries to exempt refugees from measures they normally might take against enemy nationals.

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5 thoughts on “Thousands rally for Darfur while Israel detains Sudanese

  1. let’s keep airing out the closet – get those Israeli skeletons out in the open… with enough good old-fashioned guilt and shaming Israel will hopefully do the right thing

  2. Don’t leave out the editorial in the same issue of the Forward:
    Memory, Mercy, Bureaucracy
    May 5, 2006
    Of all the human and inhuman dramas to emerge from the Darfur crisis, none is more cruelly ironic than the fate of the 160 Sudanese refugees incarcerated in Israel as, of all things, security prisoners. They should be hosted as refugees, not locked up as enemies, but Israel’s famous bureaucracy can’t seem to tell the difference.
    The refugees, most of them from Darfur, were among thousands of Sudanese who fled north into Egypt last year to escape their country’s genocidal militias. In the wake of a December protest in Cairo that turned into a police riot, one little group fled east in the forbidding sands of the Sinai desert, hoping to find shelter in Israel. It was an unlikely journey for a group of war-bedraggled African Muslims — not unlike, say, a group of Brazilian Marranos fleeing the Portuguese Reconquista and ending up somewhere like Dutch New Amsterdam.
    As first reported last week on our Web site by columnist Kathleen Peratis, Israel greeted the refugees by classifying them as enemy infiltrators — Muslims from a hostile Arab state who slipped over the border illegally — and clapped them in prison, where nearly all of them have languished ever since.
    To treat refugees from persecution as though they were agents of the tyrants they fled is ludicrous, of course. But the refugees cannot make their case in court; under Israeli law, suspected infiltrators have no right of judicial review. And so they sit behind bars and wait.
    Israel should know better. It was Israel, after all, that pressed hardest for provisions in the 1949 Geneva Conventions to outlaw such mistreatment of refugees. At the time, memories were still fresh of the nightmare that faced German Jews who sought refuge in Allied nations, only to find themselves viewed with suspicion, incarcerated as enemy aliens — or worse, sent back to Germany. Alas, memory fades, even Jewish memory.
    Jerusalem is savvy enough to know that the Darfur refugees cannot be sent back to certain death in Sudan, but it is not wise enough to set them free and offer them refuge. Inquiries by concerned outsiders, including several major American Jewish organizations, have produced only muddled promises to search for a solution. That’s not enough.
    There is a simpler way. Israel confronted a comparable dilemma in 1977, when a boatload of homeless Vietnamese refugees was plucked out of the South China Sea by an Israeli commercial ship. Menachem Begin, in one of his first acts as prime minister, invited them to settle in Israel and ordered his bureaucrats to take whatever steps were needed to welcome them. Those refugees have lived in Israel ever since as loyal, useful, contributing citizens and an enduring symbol of Israeli compassion.
    Israel’s newest prime minister, Ehud Olmert, could begin to secure his place as Begin’s worthy heir by doing the right thing, cutting through the bureaucracy and ending the shameful incarceration of Israel’s Sudanese refugees.

  3. Here’s the latest as of 12:18 pm … three items
    High Court: State can’t hold Sudanese refugees in detention
    Ha’aretz, Israel – 51 minutes ago
    The High Court of Justice ruled on Monday that the state cannot hold Sudanese refugees in administrative detention without judicial review, and ordered it to …
    Darfur refugees’ case goes to High Court
    Jerusalem Post, Israel – 13 hours ago
    The last memory Yantin Adam has of his village in the Bora Valley in northern Darfur, Sudan, is plumes of smoke rising from the burning homes he and hundreds …
    Darfur refugees’ case goes to High Court
    Jerusalem Post, Israel – 7 hours ago
    The last memory Yantin Adam has of his village in the Bora Valley in northern Darfur, Sudan, is plumes of smoke rising from the burning homes he and hundreds …

  4. It sucks, but sorry guys, technicalities arising from security concerns have led to this situation. Not just anyone seeking asylum can just waltz right into a country with protected borders, especially one such as Israel where security is such a huge concern and hostile neighbors abound. As bad as this is, the asylum-seekers are going to have to wait a little while before they are cleared for residence. I say, at least Israel is not sending them back.
    Is this really a reason to be “bitter” about being associated with Israel? You are unappreciative of all the good things that Israel has done.

  5. Matt, Israel is genraklly a great country of which many who read this blog are proud. this just happens to be one case where the actions of israel in ints treatment of refugees embarasses many jews.

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