“We want to see Israel fulfilling the vision it was founded to be,” says Gabe, who became interested in this topic when he lived in Israel in 2010-2011. “The State of Israel was founded by refugees. We can’t forget that.”
“They say these people are economic infiltrators and economic migrants who are not from places that are genocidal,” says Gabe. “But these people are fleeing unrest. [Just to get to Israel] many walk through Sudan, are smuggled by human traffickers through Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula, and along the way many are abused, raped and held hostage.”
“The most often repeated Jewish value in the Torah is our collective responsibility to not subvert the rights of the refugee/stranger/other in our midst since we were strangers in Mitzrayim. These people were literally refugees that came through Egypt and the Jewish state is subverting their rights.”
Asylum seekers who make it to Israel are given deferred deportation orders while they await a determination of their status. Thus, their stay in Israel is legal; however, the status does not allow them access to formal work permits, health care or welfare services. Asylum seekers are stuck in a legal limbo called “temporary collective protection.”
Gabe’s presentation at Adath will include movie clips and thoughts on how this issue is playing out in Israel, especially how it is affected by the elections there. He will also discuss what American Jews can do to help. “As American Jews, we have an ability to influence change,” he says.
Learn more about African Asylum Seekers at Adath’s Sampler of Jewish Culture, 5:30 PM – 10 PM, Saturday, January 19, 2013. There will be 11 other topics of interest throughout the night. Cost: $20 at the door. See adathjeshurun.org for more info.