Holocaust Survivor's Daughter Will Defy Apartheid Israel to Save African Refugees - by Mark E. Smith
Those of us familiar with Holocaust studies know of the righteous Christians who defied the Nazis to save Jews. Although Anne Frank's story is best known, there were many others. Today in Israel, it is Black refugees who have been targeted for deportation. Blacks in Israel have been subjected to hate crimes and attacks by angry mobs. Yet not all Israelis are racists or fascists, and there is one group that is dedicated to saving as many African refugees as it can. Here is a summary by a professional translator of a recent story published in Hebrew in Israel:
A woman who identifies only under nom de guerre of Dita explains her mother’s sensitivity (“to the point of fanaticism”) to the distress of any sentient being through her experiences in WWII - having lost her parents and sister in Poland, she survived the death march to Auschwitz.
She was considered a bit eccentric on her kibbutz, but accepted due to her past. In a MyNet piece, Dita explains that she was left a sacred charge, which led her to join a group dedicated to providing refuge to 400 families of Africans who were hunted by the Immigration Police.
Dita explains that her mother saw the story of the hunted children and said she knew exactly how they felt. In response to last month’s assertion by the state that it had found a third country to accept the Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers, Dita reports that some two thousand activists would step up and hide and convey refugees when what she refers to as “the manhunt” begins.
Challenged by the MyNet reporter to consider the distress of the neighborhoods in south Tel Aviv where most of the asylum seekers live - traditionally the residence of low-earning or out of work stratum of Israeli society, where residents have been vocal in their objection to what they see as an invasion of people of the ‘wrong’ religion (not Jewish) and skin color, Dita finds the question insulting, and turns her anger at the Israeli government, which has been remiss in discharging its treaty obligations with regard to asylum seekers.
Dita and her group intend to hide away asylum seekers in sheds and warehouses on her kibbutz, despite not having received authorization from its governing committee. She is not afraid to violate the law.
Drawing on her mother’s childhood story of the removal of the Jews from her small Polish town, she says she does not want to be one of the dogs who chases a truck that removes the undesired people from their town - so she’s willing to put up with a little fear.
Quite a story! But is this mission possible? Undoubtedly the Israeli government manhunt with be thorough and the private homes of everyone suspected of supporting human rights are likely to be invaded by the Israeli police and military searching for refugees. It will be difficult to hide Africans, as even a glimpse of them by a neighbor will send them to their doom due to their evident skin color. But for dedicated people no risk or sacrifice is too great to save lives. Should they succeed, their names will go down in history as being among the righteous of the earth, and their stories told and retold by future generations. Should they fail, they will probably be imprisoned if not deported themselves. Some may even be killed if they place their bodies between the refugees and the armed forces of Israel's apartheid government.
Although this group must necessarily operate in secret, I'll try to find out if there is someplace that we can send money to support them. And there may also be a need for some way in which the refugees can be granted asylum in safe countries where they will not be persecuted. It is very hopeful to learn that even in apartheid Israel, there are decent people willing to do whatever it takes to help others survive. The world must not let them stand alone.
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