6 items tonight
Items 1 and 2 are about Israel’s ugly treatment of migrants. How after WWII and what Jews suffered can Israel’s leaders be so cruel to others? But that’s a result of demographic fear. That’s a result of thinking and living like a tribe. Like it or not, Israel is not a western country. It is much closer in its conduct (with the exception of voting) to countries ruled by Sharia law than to western powers, none of which is founded on tribal grounds.
In item 3 Sharansky complains that all the talk about attacking Iran has caused persons who are thinking of immigrating to Israel to hold back, and perhaps even decide to stay at home. Good for them. Let them stay where they are. Wherever that is it will be safer than here, Israel.
Item 4 is a curiosity—a NY state senator comes to Israel to play soldier, but with reasons that have no grounding in reality.
Item 5 states that “Leftist views don’t keep professors from teaching at Ariel.” It would have been more correct to state that their views do not keep these professors from teaching at Ariel. I know leftist professors who would not set foot in Ariel college. Those cited in the article apparently think that they know what side their bread is buttered on, and, moreover, the term ‘leftist’ here should be modified—they might be leftist-tending Zionists, but leftist I doubt that they are.
Item 6 is a video from Time Magazine about how Palestinian bloggers manage to show their people’s plight to the world . The video is about 10 minutes, and worth watching.
That’s it for today.
August 19, 2012
Israel’s new shut-ins: Migrants afraid to leave home
Illegal migrants in Tel Aviv rely on activist groups for food. Increasingly desperate, some are even asking welfare authorities to take care of their children.
By Or Kashti |
Migrant children eating in Tel Aviv’s Levinsky Park. Photo by Daniel Tchetchik
Four Sudanese quickly gathered up the things brought them by Levinsky Soup, a group of activists who provide hot meals to migrants. There were two large sacks of rice, fresh bread, vegetables and fruit, canned goods, disposable utensils, a large cooking pot and an electric hotplate, as well as a few mattresses. Within a few minutes the four of them – two adults in their 20s and two boys of 14 or 15 – disappeared into a building in one of the cities in Gush Dan, where seven families were waiting for them.
The food was supposed to last for a few days, until the next delivery. Even if they do not actually suffer from hunger, as in some of the African countries, many migrants do not know if and what they will eat tomorrow. In some cases the distress and the despair have become so great that a number of such families have recently turned to welfare authorities in Tel Aviv and have asked them to take their children.
Most of the families in question are from South Sudan. The parents hardly go out into the streets, for fear they will be caught and deported. This is also why they do not come the central bus station in Tel Aviv, where Levinsky Soup, established some seven months ago, does most of its work.
According to one welfare services source, the requests are “to take the children for a week or two and sometimes also for a longer period.” Another welfare worker notes these are families “that aren’t managing to see to food for the children. The families have no money because the parents cannot work and their savings, if any, are being used to pay rent. The parents are simply asking us to take the children under our care and send them to boarding facilities or somewhere else. They want their children to be safe, at least in the meantime.”
A third source confirms that migrant families have indeed applied with such requests but noted that the background isn’t “hunger, in the sense of malnutrition like in Somalia, but rather the lack of nutritional security. The desire to hand over the children is not only because of this, but rather is part of the personal distress they are experiencing.”
“The situation in which a parent is able even to consider separation from his children so they will get food is terrible and extreme. This is the situation to which government, with the help of the public’s silence, has brought some of the refugees,” says Yigal Shtayim, one of the founders of Levinsky Soup. “There are parents who are asking themselves which is preferable: to suffer from hunger together with their children or to give them to other people. The parents are hungrier than the children because they have denied themselves food, limited their intake. They don’t have anything more to save.”
Fear of immigration authorities
Some Sudanese parents in this predicament recently approached the Mesila Aid and Information Center for Migrant Workers and Refugees, a nonprofit operating under the auspices of the Tel Aviv municipality. Though the organization does sometimes deal with removing children from families of refugees and migrants, this is only in cases of injury and abuse – not because of economic distress or a shortage of food, as the families were describing. Mesila staff did not know what to do about the requests, and contacted the Levinsky Soup activists in the hope they would be able to help.
At 9:30 P.M. on a recent Tuesday, after another shift at Levinsky Soup at the central bus station, Shtayim and fellow activists Orly Feldheim and Lior Levy packed up the little food that remained from the distribution, stopped along the way to get some more to cram into the car, tied mattresses onto the roof of a second vehicle and set out to meet the migrants. Fear of the immigration authorities is so great that the meeting took place on a side street and not at the families’ apartment.
‘A place of death’
D. says he arrived in Israel from South Sudan five years ago. He is in his 20s, married and the father of a son who is a few months old. In an apartment in the center of the country, where they came after leaving Tel Aviv a few months ago, D.’s family is now living crowded together with six more migrant families – all with children of various ages. In an earlier conversation, D. had asked for mattresses because there are not enough beds. In recent months, he relates, the young children have not been examined by a doctor. One tenant is in her eight month of pregnancy.
After the group took the things from the activist, a Sudanese teenager asks for powdered milk. Fresh milk gets used up very quickly and they prefer, insofar as possible, to avoid going out to the street. The powder, he explains, lasts a long time.
“You (the Israelis ) don’t understand that South Sudan is a place full of death. I don’t want to go back there now. Maybe in the future, when the situation there stabilizes,” says D. He keeps using the phrase, “a place full of death,” about the country that received its independence just over a year ago.
According to him, the seven families shut themselves into apartment during the day and try to go out only in the evening.
“In the meantime the neighbors are fine,” D. says, “but I don’t know how long we will be able to be here. We don’t always have anything to eat. There are days when we go hungry. We are trying to manage. Each day is a new struggle.” Of the possibility his family will be caught and possibly imprisoned for a certain period, he smiles and says: “In a case like that, at least we won’t have to worry about food.”
Meanwhile, in a makeshift clinic in Levinsky Park in Tel Aviv, Physicians for Human Rights members are increasingly treating migrants who are “hungry, asking for a little bit of money and a place to sleep,” says the medical director of the clinic, Dr. Ido Lurie. “These are refugees mainly from Sudan and Eritrea. They come into the clinic because of medical problems, but the background of social problems like housing, food, access to medications and to medical services, is very salient.”
Levinsky Soup operates seven days a week, and every evening the activists distribute about 500 meals. The menu changes, depending on the donations obtained each day and the dishes volunteers have cooked at home.
On this particular day the meals consisted of a small portion of rice with meat, bread and a few vegetables. Dessert was fruit and a slice of bread with chocolate. At 7:30 P.M. the volunteers began preparing the tables. Within minutes, there was a long line of scores of migrants from Africa, along with a few veteran Israelis. Everyone waited patiently. In turn, each person took a disposable bowl and sat down on the unkempt grass. According to some of the migrants, this is their only meal that day.
A simple calculation shows that since the start of the soup kitchen’s activity, about 100,000 meals have been distributed here. Without Levinsky Soup it’s possible that some migrants would be walking around with the swollen belly of malnutrition.
In the meantime, the project led by the Interior Ministry for deportation back to South Sudan is in full swing. So far some seven flights have taken off, the last one carrying 70 adults and 30 children. So far about 1,000 migrants from South Sudan have been deported, out of a total of about 1,500.
August 19, 2012
Israel’s immigration police detain African migrants, despite pending visa appeals
The three South Sudanese migrants are seriously ill, and are waiting for their asylum applications to be considered on humanitarian grounds.
By Talila Nesher
African migrants marching to the UN headquarters in Tel Aviv in protest of violence against asylum seekers from South Sudan and Eritrea, June 10, 2012. Photo by Daniel Bar-On
The Immigration and Population Authority has arrested three migrants from South Sudan who are seriously ill and are waiting for their asylum applications to be considered on humanitarian grounds. The three – one of whom has AIDS, another has epilepsy and the third has chronic arthritis and liver dysfunction – were arrested three days ago.
Two of the three have submitted official requests to stop their deportation, in keeping with the procedures of the Immigration and Population Authority. According to those procedures, steps are not to be taken to deport people whose applications are under review. The third person was arrested after he was sent to bring a certain medical form attesting to his condition. His application was submitted for him by the United Nations Refugee Commission.
Because the state has lifted the group protection from deportation it had accorded citizens of South Sudan in Israel, deeming it safe for them to return home, the three are asking that they be allowed to remain in Israel on medical grounds. The three say their fate is sealed if they return to their home country, considering the poor medical care available there.
The Physicians Without Borders NGO has asked the tribunal that oversees incarceration to release the three immediately and that deportation proceedings be halted. In the case of one of the asylum-seekers, the group wrote that it was his right to remain in the country in light of his medical condition. Regarding another of the three men, the group wrote: “From information conveyed to Physicians Without Borders by a representative of the U.N. Commission of Refugees, who visited him in prison, for the first two days he received no medical treatment and the medications he had were taken from him.”
The group warned that “such conduct could harm the patient, especially in light of the fact that the Immigration and Population Authority is aware of his medical situation and the medications he needs were readily available.”
Physicians Without Borders said it decried the man’s incarceration “considering that he acted according to the Interior Ministry’s own procedures in order to exercise his rights vis-a-vis the authorities. The place of such a person is not in custody, both because of his medical condition and mainly because of the fact that he is in the process of exercising his rights.”
Shahar Shoham, head of the Migrants and Refugees Department of Physicians for Human Rights, said: “We are seeing a significant worsening of the attitude toward sick people who are seeking to prevent their deportation on medical grounds. What we had seen until recently is that people who submitted applications were not arrested.”
However, Shoham said, despite the fact that procedure says people must not be deported while their cases are under review, and the requests of all three individuals in question are under review, they have been arrested “just to make their lives miserable and to pressure them to sign a waiver that they are leaving of their own free will.”
Shoham said the medical conditions of all three are well-documented.
The Immigration and Population Authority said in response: “The applications of the three are under review even while they are being held, and there is no reason not to do so. There is medical treatment [for those] in custody. They will not be deported until there is a response to their application.”
August 19, 2012
Sharansky: Iran war talk is harming immigration
By JPOST.COM STAFF
Dozens of immigrants are delaying their aliya [literally ‘going up,’ but meaning immigration] until the prospect of war with Iran passes, Jewish Agency chair says, adding that public discussions of war plans are “crossing every red line.”
Photo: REUTERS/Jason Reed
Loose lips may have sunk ships in World War II, but according to Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, loose lips in the 21st century delay flights. Sharansky told Israel Radio on Sunday that dozens of potential immigrants to Israel are delaying their arrival over fears of a war with Iran.
The dozens of would-be immigrants have already finalized the details of their aliya, including where they will live upon arrival in Israel, Sharansky explained, but said many recently informed the Jewish Agency they are delaying their big move until the perceived lead-up to war passes.
The criticism appeared to be unique as most calls to end public discussions of war plans have generally centered on the wisdom of revealing internal Israeli security discussions to the international community, and even Iran.
Three-hundred and fifty new immigrants from North America arrived in Israel last week, nearly 130 of whom arrived to join the IDF.
Sharanksy’s criticism of the public discussion of war, however, was not limited to the realm of immigration. The discussions “have crossed every red line,” he told Israel Radio, claiming they are harming Israel’s deterrence power.
The international community views gravely the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, which Sharansky attributed to the efforts of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has left no doubt that “if the world doesn’t attack, Israel will attack.”
President Shimon Peres last week came out against any go-it-alone Israeli attack on Iran, saying he trusted US President Barack Obama’s pledge to prevent Tehran from producing nuclear weapons.
He immediately came under attack from the Prime Minister’s Office and other corners of the political arena, who called on the president to stay outside of the discussion.
On Saturday, former president Yitzhak Navon defended Peres and his decision to enter the discussion.
“It is clear to Peres, as it was clear to me, that it is not his job to intervene in government decisions, but there are situations in which it is necessary to say what you believe – even if you are president,” Navon stated.
The fifth president recounted that during his tenure in the early 1980s, he voiced his opposition to government policies “when I felt it was my responsibility as a human, like in the case of Sabra and Shatila, in which I publicly called for an inquiry led by a judge, against prime minister Menachem Begin’s wishes.”
According to Navon, Peres must have felt that this is a “fateful time” and that he must have an influence on events.
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.
4 +972 Sunday, August 19 2012Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine
August 18 2012
NY State Senator’s unbelievable excuse for posing in IDF uniform
Last week, my mother went bird-watching in the north. She called me on the way back – her party was traveling down Mt. Hermon and along the Syrian border – asking about nearby restaurants. Little did I know that they were crossing a dangerous war zone, where hostile snipers are constantly looking for plainclothes visitors to shoot down.
Or, at least this is what you are supposed to think if you are buying the stories coming out of the office of one Republican New York Senator.
Following a visit to Israel, the office of New York State Senator David Storobin distributed this picture, in which the senator is posing in IDF uniforms, with a gun, on the Syrian border. Next to him, looking like a dropout from basic training in a B-action movie, is the senator’s chief of staff.
NY State Senator David Storobin posing with IDF gun and uniform during a visit to Israel (photo: PR)
Mondoweiss posted the picture and the press release, causing a mini-storm. Then came the following explanation from the office of Senator Storobin, in the form of a mass email written by Storobin aide Steven Stites (h/t Adam Horowitz):
The ginned-up controversy about the Senator’s photo on the Syrian border is quite amusing, especially to folks who have been to Israel.
As Israelis know all too well, the Syrian border is a hostile area. Visitors there are required to don a uniform and carry a gun. Even members of the Knesset do so. There are snipers on the other side. If they see an unarmed person not in uniform, they may assume it’s a leader of some kind, and that person could be a target.
This is probably the most ridiculous bullshit I have read in a long time (note the we-know-Israel-and-army-stuff-better-than-you-leftist! tone). I don’t know of any place in Israel where “visitors are required to don a uniform and carry a gun,” let alone the Golan Heights and the Syrian border. In fact, in the last month or so, the Israeli media reported a new trend: families on vacation – kids and all – that travel to the border area to see and hear echoes of the fighting in Syria.
If New Yorkers want to vote for a guy that likes to make a fool out of himself – posing with a gun like a kid in an amusement park and then having someone come up with the strangest, most absurd explanation – that’s their own business. I am more worried by the Israeli army’s willingness to play along with the adolescence fantasies of American politicians.
August 17, 2012
Leftist views don’t keep professors from teaching at Ariel
Part of the Israeli left sees the recent decision to upgrade Ariel University Center to a full university as a move that bolsters the occupation.
‘I thought the road to Ariel would be full of army troops, and I’d be stopped at six checkpoints,’ said chemistry Prof. Haim Cohen. Photo by Nir Keidar
Criminologist Mally Shechory-Bitton has been teaching at the college since 1997. Photo by Daniel Bar On
Yossi Goldstein said he sees no contradiction between having leftist views and working at Ariel. Photo by Daniel Bar On Several academics who teach at the Ariel University Center in the West Bank have distinctly leftist views. But they see no contradiction between their work place and their political positions, and some were even pleasantly surprised when they discovered what it was like.
“I thought the road to Ariel would be full of army troops, and I’d be stopped at six checkpoints,” said chemistry Prof. Haim Cohen, who worked in the Negev Nuclear Research Center near Dimona for 36 years and previously lectured at Ben-Gurion University. “I thought all the students and faculty members would be wearing skullcaps and [ritual] fringes and their eyes would burn with messianic fervor.”
Cohen, who always voted “between Meretz and Labor,” received an offer to teach at the college in Ariel eight years ago, when he was about to retire. To his surprise, most of the faculty are of Russian origin, and chose to live in the settlement of Ariel due to the lower cost of living.
“There are a few more skullcap-wearing people here, but no messianism,” he said. “I was also surprised by the increase in the number Arab students. When a student from Kafr Qasem comes to Ben-Gurion University, he has difficulty renting an apartment in Be’er Sheva. Here, he can take the bus and sleep at home.”
“I think the conflict’s solution is two states for two peoples, but three large settlement blocs will remain – Gush Etzion, Ma’aleh Adumim and Ariel,” he added. “I’m very optimistic.”
Part of the Israeli left sees the recent decision to upgrade Ariel University Center to a full university as a move that bolsters the occupation. Some 1,000 academics, including 18 Israel Prize laureates, signed a petition against establishing a university in the territories, warning that it would undermine international academic cooperation and harm the existing universities. “The identification of Israeli academia as a whole with the settlement policy will put it in danger,” they wrote.
“The university in Ariel strengthens the occupation,” agreed MK Dov Khenin (Hadash ).
But a number of leftist academics who have chosen to teach at Ariel disagree. Prof. Yossi Goldstein, for example, said he sees no contradiction between having leftist views and working at Ariel, despite his initial misgivings.
An expert on Zionist history and Israel, Goldstein said his voting ranges from Meretz to “more radical” parties. Having written biographies of prime ministers Levi Eshkol and Yitzhak Rabin, he is very familiar with the history of West Bank settlement. But this hasn’t stopped him from teaching at Ariel University Center for the past four years.
“It wasn’t a simple decision, but I decided to try it for one year, to see if my fears that it’s a rightist bastion were corroborated,” he said.
Goldstein advises 13 students on their master’s theses, “all of them from the hills around here. They pick subjects like the beginning of Gush Emunim [the settlement movement] or the [now-defunct] National Religious Party’s approach to security in the state’s early days. These subjects correspond to the stereotypes of Ariel’s students,” he said.
But another group consists of Arab students “writing papers about the Nakba” – literally, “catastrophe,” the Arabic term for Israel’s creation.
“They all know my political views,” he said. “I don’t hide it in any way. I even joke with them about politics and religion.”
“The term occupation is correct” as applied to Ariel, he said. “We’re in occupied territory … But I’m in an academic institution.”
“All Israeli universities were established for political reasons,” he added.
“I don’t deny the politicians who founded Ariel wanted to divide the West Bank in two and quash the chances of creating a Palestinian state in the West Bank,” Goldstein said. “That’s not my responsibility … My conscience tells me I’m a tenured history professor here. If it means my children and grandchildren can live in peace, I’d be ready to return every bit of land.”
Goldstein sees no contradiction between his work and his political positions. He even looked into buying an apartment in Ariel for investment purposes, but the plan didn’t work out.
“My view is simple: Israel must stay strong until peace agreements are signed,” he said. “I don’t think an academic institution can prevent peace.”
Criminologist Mally Shechory-Bitton has been teaching at the college since 1997, as well as at Ben-Gurion University. She supports “territorial compromise. I’m not willing to die for any land.”
But she sees no connection between establishing the university in Ariel and territorial compromise.
“Ariel College was built to strengthen Ariel. That doesn’t interest me,” she said. “The state decided to settle people there. They didn’t come here out of the blue.”
6 Annie’s New Letters (& notes)
The Golden Rule… Do unto others as you would have them do unto you
Sunday, August 19, 2012Time Magazine Video: How Palestinian Bloggers Cover Protests in Their Own Villages
In the West Bank, Palestinian citizen journalists cover events from their unique perspective
[AS ALWAYS PLEASE GO TO THE LINK TO READ GOOD ARTICLES IN FULL: HELP SHAPE ALGORITHMS (and conversations) THAT EMPOWER DECENCY, DIGNITY, JUSTICE & PEACE... and hopefully Palestine]