June 05, 2011

Breaking Into Israel: my Eritrean hero Kidane Isaac

My Eritean friends (L to R) Kidane Isaac, Filamon Juenist, and Domoz
 Bereket. Behind me, American pal Josh Gomes (Levinsky Park, Tel Aviv)

Update | Wedding in Jaffa, Israel: Kidane Isaac and Laurie Lijnders

In the Sinai, thousands of Eritreans fleeing conscription, torture, and conflict in their East African homelands have been seeking safe harbor in Israel (many were turned back from Libya and Italy). Along their way, human traffickers raped, tortured, killed, and held hostage the impoverished refugees for extravagant ransom monies. Those who survived the perils then risked shooting by Egyptian and Israeli border guards.

In Tel Aviv, Kidane Isaac, my gentle friend, courageous community leader, and Eritrean asylum seeker who survived the treacherous journey inspires me daily to act on the Torah injunction (Leviticus 19:34) —

כְּאֶזְרָח מִכֶּם יִהְיֶה לָכֶם הַגֵּר הַגָּר אִתְּכֶם, וְאָהַבְתָּ לוֹ כָּמוֹךָ כִּי גֵרִים הֱיִיתֶם בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם

Treat foreign residents living among you as your native-born. Love each one as yourself because you were foreigners in Egypt.

Kidane and others are interviewed in "Eritrea to Israel: Dying to cross the border," a British public-TV station Channel 4 documentary. Watch the video (23.5 minutes).

No country for refugees, article on The Refugee Voice, in Haaretz newspaper, April 15, 2011

The African Refugee Development Center
Founded in 2004 by refugees and Israelis to help refugees and asylum seekers in Israel, ARDC provides community services and lobbies for fairer policies towards refugees.
Email: info@ardc-israel.org

The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants
Founded in 1998, HMW is a non-partisan, not for profit organization promoting undocumented migrant workers' and refugees' rights, and eliminating human trafficking in Israel.
Email: info@hotline.org.il

Organization for Aiding Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel
Founded in 2007, ASSAF is a non-profit organization that provides support and runs programs to protect and strengthen the African refugee community in Israel.
Email: assafaid@gmail.com