January 12, 2018
I don’t know if this is a case of Jews believing their own propaganda or of American Jews not wanting to deal with the backlash of Israel’s behavior. Probably it is both, to some degree.
It’s very funny, whatever the mechanism behind it is.
Yikealo Beyene’s story is — up to a point — perfect feel-good fodder for a Saturday morning talk at synagogue.
As a refugee from Eritrea, he read Anne Frank’s diary in his native tongue and translated it, teaching the tale to kids in an Ethiopian refugee camp. He sought out Israel for the refuge it promised and can’t stop talking about the kindnesses that Israelis afforded him once he arrived. He lived in Israel for eight years, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and is now living in Seattle, a leader of his community.
But Beyene’s story, which he related in a speech on Shabbat morning at Ohev Shalom, an Orthodox synagogue here known for its politically involved congregation, hit a bump toward the end. That’s when he brought up his mission, backed by the New York-based philanthropist Joey Low, to stop Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government from deporting or jailing tens of thousands of refugees from Africa.
“I now consider Israel as my second home and I feel dutiful to defend it,” he said. “Now if I stop my speech here, I would be a bit dishonest.”
Some 60,000 African migrants entered Israel prior to the construction of a barrier on its southern border with the Sinai in 2012. Israel, which considers them economic migrants, not refugees from persecution, until now has encouraged the Africans to leave by handing them cash — generally about $3,500 — and a plane ticket. About 20,000 have taken the offer, leaving nearly 40,000 in Israel, most living freely.
This month, Netanyahu said those who do not take the deportation offer face jail. Rwanda and Uganda reportedly are the likeliest destinations for deportees, though both governments deny it.
In recent years the refugees have made their way to Israel from various countries, including Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia.
“As much as I love Israel, I do not want to conceal how deeply concerned I am about the recent move by the government to expel African refugees and asylum seekers in Israel to Rwanda,” said Beyene, 33. (The event was on the record but on Shabbat, so no recording or note-taking was permitted. A JTA reporter was present and given a copy of Beyene’s prepared remarks.)
Low, an investor who has donated millions of dollars to Israeli causes over the years, says convincing American Jews to pressure Israel on the issue is a long shot — but he is determined to try.
“My heart is in Israel,” said Low, who spends several months a year in the country and has invested in startups there.
It’s especially painful, he says, considering that the philanthropy he founded has given millions of dollars to Israel at Heart, an NGO that sends young Israelis around the world to improve the country’s image.
“You can’t do something like this in the name of Jews and Israel,” Low said of the deportations.
Honestly, I want to see Israel deport these people – or better yet keep them in camps.
It is a basic-bitch nationalist point that Jews push immigration onto we, the goyim, while interning and deporting brown people in their own country, but it is one that is very easy to explain to people who are not #Jwoke.
Virtually everyone pushing for immigration in the West is Jewish, they claim that we have to have it or we are evil, but they won’t allow it in their own country. That is a powerful fact to people who don’t already know what we know.
Anyway, these American Jews are not going to have any impact on Israeli policy. That just is not happening.