Monday, July 16, 2007

Let the shame be on the Muslim nations, not on Israel

Israeli citizens are taking action to prevent shame from coming down on the Israeli state over its treatment of refugees from Darfur.

An Israeli volunteer holds a Sudanese child in her arms during a demonstration at the Wohl Rose Grden in Jerusalem on Sunday. The sign reads 'Deportation=Death'.
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

One family who took in a Darfuri family Sunday morning said they felt it was their duty as Jews and Israelis to help asylum-seekers.

David, who asked not to use his real name for fear of putting both his family and the Darfuri family at risk, is on the board of the international Jewish volunteer movement Brit Olam.

"What is interesting to me about it is that private Israelis don't go around making declarations about what they want to do, they just go and do it," said David. "The government has made the declaration 'never again,' we heard it from [Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert and other politicians on Holocaust Remembrance Day. But those declarations have not yet yielded action."

After reading about the refugees in the press, David and his daughter visited a group camped outside the Wohl Rose Garden. After a discussion with his family, they decided to offer a family two rooms in their house.

"We are currently handling it on a day-to-day basis," said David. "I was talking to my daughter about some of the problems on the phone. I said, 'We are all pushing boundaries to do this.' And she told me, 'Yes, I guess that is what it means to do a mitzva sometimes.'"
Israel has legitimate security concerns about people infiltrating over its southern border. But as far as refugees from Darfur are concerned, let their mistreatment be the shame of the Muslim world, and let Israel be a light unto the world to show how compassion should be extended to the oppressed.

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