Until this week, we thought the Sharm el-Sheikh summit was nothing but a vaudeville show from the light summer repertoire. But once again, we were mistaken. In recent days, it has become clear that serious matters were in fact decided there, and first and foremost, gates were closed. The prime minister of Israel and the president of Egypt met privately and hardheartedly decided on the fate of the Darfur refugees. To date, the genocide in Darfur has claimed about half a million victims, with more to come, and has scattered 2 million refugees in all directions. But who is counting? To date, about 2,000 have arrived in Israel - and they are being counted.
This week, Ehud Olmert ordered escape routes blocked. Whoever manages to infiltrate will be returned immediately to Egypt. Order must be maintained, and let us stop the anarchy on the border. Israel's citizens are convinced, because that is how it was explained to them, that without this dike, the country will be flooded with hundreds of thousands of refugees, perhaps millions: All of Africa will gather here. How fortunate that Olmert stuck his finger in and saved us from being flooded.
Jews were also about to flood entire countries when they fled the sword hanging over them. And responsible statesmen met then, too, and decided that these people knocking on the door would not be allowed to cross en masse. The reasons given then are the same as those being given today. First, our country is small, like neutral Switzerland, and will not be able to take in so many people, as the flight will go on endlessly. Second, they are coming to us from an enemy country, or from occupied areas, and are liable to endanger our security: Who knows how many planted agents are hiding among them? Third, we have our own problems, and your own poor come first. And fourth, we will not extradite them to Germany, but to Austria and Italy and Vichy France - not to Sudan, God forbid, but only to Egypt.
It is all true, and it is all despicable. First, despite the disgraceful inaction by the international community, headed by America, the genocide in Darfur will not continue forever, and most of the victims who are still alive have run out of physical and emotional strength, so they will not have enough strength to endure the long journey from there to here. Second, they are not coming from an enemy country, they are fleeing from it, and it is possible that hostile agents were also planted among Jewish refugees at that time. Third, one would think that Israel's poor were being cared for devotedly until the Darfurians befell them and us, and that this dedicated treatment of poverty will be resumed even more energetically the moment the uninvited guests are expelled. Fourth, returning the refugees to Egypt is like returning them to Sudan, as that is our neighbor's policy. It also expels; human rights are not its strong suit.
American Jews have recently placed themselves on the front line of assistance for Darfur. They have promised to neither rest nor remain silent until it is redeemed. That is a hollow commitment. Bush's America will not take in new survivors, just as it did not take in old ones, our grandmothers and grandfathers. It is slamming the door even in the face of the Iraqi refugees, who are refugees of its own war, people who cooperated with the United States and are now being thrown to the dogs of terror.
So let the good Jews from America donate several hundred million dollars for temporary absorption of the refugees in Israel, and maybe even in Egypt, until the fury has passed. They know how to get their act together, as they proved in their struggle for the lost tribes from India to Ethiopia, who, after a campaign of persuasion, came to Israel and built up the settlements. And they were not even sure that they were Jews, these lost ones.
When Israel locks its gates and expels refugees, it ends its mission as a Jewish state. The light unto the nations has been extinguished, and where is the light unto the Jews? From now on, Israel is just another country, with the same unacceptable and selfish considerations. And what will Olmert do next Yom Kippur, which is not far away, when the entire congregation calls out in a loud voice: "Open the gate for us, for the day is nearly past."
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