Letters to the Editor: Asylum Seekers, Refugees and the Nakba

Demonstrators protest against Israel's planned expulsion of African asylum seekers and migrants at Holot detention facility in southern Israel, March 13, 2018.
\ Eliyahu Hershkovitz

Sad and insulting

Since the fiasco of the attempted understanding with the UN regarding the departure of African work migrants from Israel, cabinet ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked have been intensifying their pressure to get a court override clause passed by the Knesset, which will serve, in their opinion, as a magic recipe for deporting these people from Israel.

The use of South Tel Aviv residents by Habayit Hayehudi ministers is the worst kind of cynical manipulation by politicians. If these ministers were really bothered by conditions in these neighborhoods we’d have seen their presence there over the years and their enactment of legislation benefiting residents there. 

But this is not the case. Habayit Hayehudi is focused on one thing only, the promotion of settling Judea and Samaria and the restriction of the operation of human rights organizations in this country. Any legislation this party promotes is geared to enable even more aggressive settlement in the territories and to finding solutions to legal problems that have cropped up over the years. This is a legitimate course of action which is important to anyone supporting the intensification of Jewish settlement in the territories, but exploiting the distress of Tel Aviv neighborhoods as the justification for providing a legal base for overriding the courts is sad and insulting.

One could expect residents of southern Tel Aviv and social activists there to reject the bear hug of Habayit Hayehudi ministers and to look for true government-sponsored solutions for these neighborhoods, which indeed are greatly suffering as a result of the absence of any policy to disperse the migrants across the country and of the government’s neglect in providing assistance to these neighborhoods in contending with the wave of migrants. Erecting the fence on the southern border and the total block of any further influx have proven that when the government makes the right decisions it can succeed.

Elhanan Meshi

Rishon LeZion

Planting Forget Me Nots for Nakba

On May 15th, I planted Forget Me Not flowers on the front yard of my house to mark the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, or catastrophe. During the Nakba, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced to flee or were driven from their homes at gun point, resulting in the creation of Israel in 1948 and the largest and longest refugee dilemma the world has witnessed.

The flowers I planted were in memory of those Palestinians killed, injured or imprisoned by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) since 1948. The flowers should stand as a constant reminder for me to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians as long as the Nakba continued. After all, my uncle Yousef, whom I never met, was killed by a Jewish terror organization in 1948. In his memory and honor, I named my first born son after him. My father Ahmed and younger brother Samih were also held prisoners by the IDF for 18 months in 1948 and 1982, respectively.

On Monday, 60 Palestinians were shot dead in the Gaza Strip at the fence separating the IDF from Gaza. The Palestinian peaceful protesters were gathered as part of tens of thousands participating in the Great March of Return, demanding their right to return to their homes and lands and the breaking of the 11 years of brutal and inhumane siege on Gaza.

According to Palestinian medical officials, over 100 Gazans have now been killed since the start of the protests on March 30th. Nearly 11,000 people have been wounded, about 3,500 of them hit by live fire. Israeli officials dispute those numbers. No Israeli casualties have been reported, a clear indication that the IDF soldiers were not firing in self-defense.

A good friend of mine posed the question, what would have happened if all the dead and injured were Israelis, American or Canadian Jews? One thing for sure, they would be suing the PLO and Iran under the Anti-Terrorism Act, which allows American victims of international terror attacks to sue for damages in the United States, even if they were enlisted by IDF. You can also bet they would be able to collect compensation. Meanwhile, Palestinian victims can call 1-800-WHO-CARES, even if the victims happened to be U.S. or Canadian citizens.

Why does the Western media value Israeli children’s lives more than those of Palestinian kids? Let’s not forget that it is not only media bias that values children’s lives differently, but appallingly, the Trump Administration as well, as evidenced by the number of and timing of condemnations, issued by the State Department and the White House upon such deaths.

Mahmoud El-Yousseph

Freelance Palestinian writer

Westerville, Ohio

Who is forbidden from entering schools?

(In response to “Principal chided for inviting NIF activist to lecture on refugees,” Or Kashti, Haaretz, May 13).

Or Kashti wrote that a school superintendent contacted a high school principal and told him that inviting the New Israel Fund was “very problematic” since it is “a controversial organization” and since “the education minister had expressed his determined objection to its presence in schools.”

Regarding this superintendent I’d like to comment: First of all, this person never relied on any circular by the Education Ministry’s director general regarding this organization. Secondly, the minister’s view of this organization, determined as it may be, does not delegitimize it. Thirdly, at the end of 2016 the Education Ministry disseminated a circular that was aimed at denying Breaking the Silence any access to the education system. The circular stated that it was possible to criticize the state but not to attack its legitimacy or that of its institutions, such as the IDF or the courts.

The welcome activity of the New Israel Fund, as described by Prof. Noya Rimalt in Haaretz's Hebrew edition last month, even if it were presented by the lecturer as critical of the state, does not harm the legitimacy of the state or its institutions.

Furthermore, the said circular suggests that the education minister should be barred from entering schools since the law he is promoting, proposing to override the courts, is undermining the legitimacy of the Supreme Court in its capacity as the High Court of Justice.

Rika Kidan

Tel Aviv

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