Thursday, November 25, 2010


One officer in the Israeli Defense Forces, whose name we'll perhaps never know but whose story we read this week in the papers, patrolled one night with his soldiers along the Egyptian border and encountered a group of newly arrived refugees from Africa. He was ordered to return them immediately to the Egyptian side of the border. Thinking about what these refugees might have already undergone at the hands of unscrupulous smugglers who got them so far, and what they might expect from the Egyptian army immediately upon their arrival back in its territory, and what they might expect later on at the hands of the regime or of rival ethnic groups upon being returned to the country from which they escaped, the officer refused the order and tried to bring the refugees to his unit's base camp. For this disobedience the officer is to be severely punished. The refugees were handed over to the charge of another officer, who duly did his job and expelled them across the border on the same night.

But the difficult dilemma faced by soldiers and officers with a conscience will be resolved soon. From now on - so is the government of Israel due to decide on Sunday at the initiative of the Prime Minister - all the refugees will be taken to an "Open Stay Center" to be erected deep in the desert. There, the generous State of Israel will provide them food and drink free of charge, and also tents to live in. Also free of charge the state will provide them with the armed guards, well-trained by the Israeli Prison Authority, who will guard the locked gates of the Open Stay Center and patrol day and night the fences surrounding it.

And best of all: in this Open Stay Center the Admissions Committees Bill, due also to be enacted into the law of the land next week, will not apply. No one, absolutely no one, will be turned away. No one will be denied entry or residence there. There will be no "admissions committee" to screen those who seek to enter its portals and reject those who do not "fit the community's social fabric."
An egalitarian community in which e-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y will live, like it or not.

"Israel is the only developed country which you can reach by foot from the poorest countries in Africa," complained our Prime Minister, adding that the infiltrators crossing the border every night are threatening the Jewish and the democratic character of the state.

Indeed, it might have been a serious miscalculation on the part of Herzl and the other founders of the Zionist movement to establish a Jewish and democratic and progressive and successful and flourishing state at such an unfortunate and inappropriate location. A location which allows hungry and desperate people, who are willing to walk a thousand miles and more in the desperate hope of improving their lot, to come knocking on its gates.

Every year, the highly developed and prosperous State of Israel is getting a full three billion dollars in aid from the United States of America. More, much more, than the total sum of American aid given to the whole of Black Africa.

If the aid does not come to Africa, Africans come to the aid.