Letters to the Editor (October 6, 2010)

Refugees, not infiltrators

In response to “Forty infiltrators per day” by Nehemia Shtrasler ‏(September 24‏)

In a report handed to the United Nations Refugee Agency in 2009, Israel stated that some 90 percent of the “infiltrators” from Eritrea and Sudan are refugees.

However Israel has chosen not to deal with the issue, and it has not begun the process of recognizing them as refugees.

The situation in Eritrea and Sudan is known to all. Two million people were killed in Sudan, the ruling party murders and tortures those who are jailed and its president is accused of genocide at the International Court in The Hague.

If those who fled from there are not refugees and merely came here to find work, what are hundreds of thousands of Sudanese then doing in refugee camps in Chad? Did they go there also to get rich?

Eritrea is one of eight countries in which the worst political situation in the world exists, according to the United States State Department.

It is a tyrannical country that is torn by wars that are provoked by its government, which kidnaps citizens for military service without furloughs and murders defectors. In fact, this is life-long enslavement.

It appears that Israel is in a state of confusion over everything to do with the refugees. On the one hand, it is clear we are talking about people who are supposed to be recognized as refugees. On the other hand, Israel does not have the wherewithal to deal with a task of this kind because of its lack of an immigration policy and its fearful entrenchment in a nationalistic worldview.

Meanwhile people, who have lost their families, who have been persecuted and tortured, suffered torment and were prepared to risk their lives on their way to Israel are living here under difficult conditions, rotting away and depressed and without hope for the future.

It is much easier to shout that the vast majority are not refugees and therefore have to be expelled than to deal with this complex problem, which raises complicated questions about the nation state, ties between peoples and grave moral issues.

Sharon Livneh
Activist with Assaf, which aids refugees and asylum seekers in Israel
Tel Aviv

Sadat did not wait for a freeze

Mahmoud Abbas’ memory of history is betraying him. Instead of twisting and turning over the question of whether to continue the negotiations so long as there is construction in the settlements, he would do well to remember what happened 32 years ago.

When Anwar Sadat was asked how he could negotiate with the Israelis when they were continuing to build in the settlements, he replied that the issue of construction was secondary in importance to the peace process.

Sadat was right. It is a fact that Israel evacuated Sinai to the last grain of sand, as he demanded.

The chairman of the Palestinian Authority should learn from this experience in history not to relate to the issue of the freeze but to concentrate instead on peace.

In that way, he will come out ahead, but so will we.

Albert Paposhadu

The way we admire ourselves

I went into the “Masbirim” ‏(Explanations‏) site of the Ministry of Public Diplomacy. It calls on each and every one of us to join in explaining Israel − “Together we shall change the picture,” it states. Its aim, so it states, is to uproot preconceived misconceptions about Israel.

There is a plethora of proposals how to do this and what is common to them is all is presenting Israel as a modern state with many achievements. It is suggested that we “understand” the problem and participate in admiring ourselves.

This is where things go wrong. The American and European publics are interested in only one topic. Is there a chance, with the Israeli approach, to save the world from the nightmare of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

After reading the Israeli public diplomacy site, the question arises whether there is any chance for coexistence with views like this?

Micha Yadlin