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Darfur

  • Israelis, treat us as humans — at least until we can go home

    The Israeli government continues to pass discriminatory laws against African asylum seekers, turning the Israeli public against us. But how could it be that Jews have forgotten the word 'refugee?'  By Monim Haroon A new law that went into effect starting on May 1 stipulates that the state will take 20 percent of asylum seekers' monthly salaries, and 16 percent from our employers, putting the money into a fund that will only become available to us the moment we board a plane that flies us away from Israel. If we refuse to leave the country, the Administration of Border Crossings, Population and…

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  • In first, Israel grants refugee status to Sudanese asylum seeker

    Six years after he fled Darfur for Israel, Mutasim Ali, one of the leaders of the asylum seekers' struggle in Israel, has been granted refugee status. Ali: 'Now I can live a normal life with dignity.'  By Yael Marom Mutasim Ali was in the middle of his law school class when he learned that he would become the first Sudanese asylum seeker to be granted refugee status in Israel. According to the announcement, which was sent by fax to Attorney Asaf Weitzen, who represents Ali on behalf of the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri had decided to…

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  • The importance of being earnest about human rights

    In an open letter, one of Israel's foremost refugee rights lawyers calls on the deputy attorney general to follow her conscience. By Asaf Weitzen Dear Deputy Attorney General Dina Silber: I am familiar with a bit of your academic work, including two books you authored and speeches that you give from time to time. You have demonstrated a deep commitment to basic rights and an understanding that the any government must be checked if and when it seeks to infringe upon basic rights. What I find incomprehensible is the disparity between those views and your intensive involvement in legislating the amendment…

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  • Marching toward freedom in a fictional plot of land

    Nearly 1,000 African asylum seekers walked out of Israel's 'open' detention facility last week, saying they were headed to a strip of UN-controlled territory along the Egyptian border. This is the story of their march -- full of hopes, determination and desperation. Encampment air hangs hot and still. Under a dry canopy of Eucalyptus it swaddles the crowds of Sudnese and Eritrean asylum seekers who make temporary beds here, some 300 meters from the Israeli-Egyptian border. Hassan Abdaiiah Adam, a 30-year-old asylum seeker from Darfur, passes thick fingers over the yellow whistle that he wears around his neck. He has…

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  • WATCH: Confronting an Israeli minister for flouting int'l law

    Sadiq al-Sadiq was returned to Israel earlier this month after finding himself being sent -- against his will -- back to Sudan, from where he fled persecution and genocide. Sadiq is just one of hundreds or thousands of Sudanese who have been pressured to leave Israel. Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar, who is responsible for the asylum seeker population in Israel, has made it clear that he intends to empty the country of African asylum seekers. "If we treat this [problem] like liberals, we'll lose the country," he has said in the past. Earlier this month, one Israeli activist confronted Sa'ar…

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  • Photos of the week: Remembering a genocide

    This week: remembering Darfur, asylum seekers in Belgium, refusing military service, tear gas in Nil'in, Bedouins face demolitions in the Negev, Palestinian prisoners go on hunger strike, housing struggles in Israel, and Ethiopian Jews protest discrimination.                      

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  • The origins and politics of Israel's refugee debate

    An in-depth look at the historical and political developments that shaped Israel’s current African asylum-seeker crisis — and one way to resolve it that meets Israel’s own needs while doing right by those who most need its protection. African asylum seekers in Israel have brought their struggle into the limelight in recent weeks. Through acts of civil disobedience, public protests and a mass labor strike, the mostly Eritrean and Sudanese nationals are attempting to shift the public discourse surrounding their presence in the country, gain access to a credible process in which they can seek asylum, and challenge a new…

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  • No excuse for Israel's denial of asylum seekers' plight

    Refugees’ fear of arrest, torture, and death should be sufficient justification for their inability to return their countries of origin. So why is the Israeli government refusing to grant African refugees asylum status? A personal story. By Guy Josif and Anna Rose Siegel For the past three weeks, tens of thousands of African refugees in Israel, along with Israeli activists, have participated in demonstrations, hunger and labor strikes, and continual political engagement in opposition to intensified efforts by Israeli officials to detain refugees without due process. In response to these actions, Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that these people are not refugees,…

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  • Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel: Something’s missing

    With Holocaust Remembrance Day upon us once again in Israel, I am republishing a piece I wrote four years ago. I’ve decided not to make any changes because not that much has changed and the spirit of the piece remains true to today. This year, I dedicate it to the people of Syria, may someone or something stop the slaughter and suffering of our neighbors. As a "second-generation Holocaust survivor," Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) has always been of great importance to me; its lessons were etched into my conscience from the earliest times in my childhood memories. The words, “never…

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  • Photos: Sudanese refugees in Israel celebrate their culture with dance and music

    The Sudanese refugee community gathers in south Tel Aviv to remember their homeland, celebrate their culture, music and dances and share them local Israelis.  Text by: Adam Bashar Photos by: Activestills.org The idea behind The Cultural Day of the Sudanese refugees community, held at the Goren Goldstein Country Club in south Tel Aviv, was to expose local Israelis to the tradition of our uprooted community. We worked jointly with representatives from the different tribes living in Israel to create an event that will tell the story of the harsh situation we as refugees experience, while sharing our culture through dance, music…

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  • Deport the African refugees to Egypt? Not so fast

    Refugees in Egypt face regular threat of arrest, torture, and deportation to their countries of origin. The revolution has not changed that reality. On the life of one Darfuri refugee in search of protection. By Amir Heinitz "No one cares about what happens to refugees anyhow. Last week 300 Egyptians were detained without cause," expressed an employee at a Cairo-based refugee organization in response to the arrest of Monim Atron Soliman, a Darfuri refugee activist, just weeks before Egypt’s first democratic presidential elections. Fear runs deep. Publicly expression of political views constitutes a gamble. Unencrypted phone calls, emails or Facebook…

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  • Israel's new prison for African refugees reeks of cruelty

    As the new prison for refugees and their children demonstrates, racism is a profound problem in Israel today. But it is only a component in a broader ethos, which tramples all over those who are weak and vulnerable. In Israel's hierarchy of sympathies, even those at the very top suffer from the devaluation of compassion itself International Holocaust Memorial Day is a good opportunity to reiterate Noam's important warning against comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany, and to heartily endorse his policy of banning comments making this comparison. Israel can certainly be compared to Switzerland, though. The Swiss government, during…

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  • An Argentinian lawyer who might get things moving in the Mideast

    Luis Moreno Ocampo has a big decision to make: should he recognize the Palestinian territories as a state? One of the most important decisions concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the near future could soon be made not by a local leader (not surprising), but by an Argentinian lawyer. Meet Luis Moreno Ocampo, the first Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Israel, along with the United States and Sudan, ratified the Rome Statute which created the ICC - only to later “unsign” themselves. But this past week, Ocampo heard Israel’s case against a Palestinian strategic move that could change the…

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