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


kidane said...

hi Tammy,

i am so happy with your safe return to ur second home USA. it is always great seeing and hearing any thing from you. i saw the blog and it is amazing one thank you so much.

i am looking for ward seeing u in person in the beautiful city of Tel-aviv, but i now i have to wait some long months, wish u all the best.

with all the heartfelt greetings,


Tamar Orvell said...

Hi Kidane!

I see you love calling me Tammy, as Josh taught you! Thanks for telling your people's story on the video and elsewhere. I am so proud of you, Filamon, Domoz, and everyone — Eritreans in Israel, Israeli volunteers, and other nationals supporting your struggle. I look forward to your launching your own blog, and I'm happy to share what I know when we meet in Tel Aviv! (With your brains and motivation, you'll probably have it all figured out long before!)


gkassatly said...

Mr. Kidane and Ms. Tamar,

I am a law student representative in Ohio, USA, for an Eritrean asylum seeker who suffered years of persecution at Brigade Six and Mai Edaga. We had our first hearing last week! The judge asked my client several questions about the security at Mai Edaga. Because the judge's questions were unclear, my client struggled to answer in the exact manner the judge wanted. As a result, the judge stated that he does not believe my client. We continue our hearing on in 11 days. I really need to speak with you Mr. Kidane about Mai Edaga prison. I have read previous articles about your experience there and you are the only person who can help us at this moment.

My client deserves freedom. He is only 27 years old and has spent most of his adult years in prison for ARBITRARY REASONS! Please reach out to me as soon as you can.

Write me here, or via email at gkassatly1@gmail.com, or call me at (614)563-8943.

Thank you,

Unknown said...

Tammy and Kidane,

I apologize for contacting you months after we first talked. I lost your contact information recently when my emails were all deleted! However, I have amazing news to share with you. My client was granted ASYLUM a couple of months ago. He is now safe with his brother in the U.S. enjoying his freedom. Although we were unable to use Kidane's testimony, we were able to corroborate his story with that of his brother's and several country reports. The Judge found my client credible by the end of the trial.

Thank you both so much for taking the time to reply to me and speak with me. Please feel free to stay in touch :)

Best Regards,
Gaea Kassatly