* Among Israeli Arab college graduates the figure was even higher 33 percent think Jews made up the Holocaust
* Arab woman to deliver Hebrew news
* Leonardo DiCaprio tours Yad Vashem with his Israeli girlfriend
* Supreme U.S. Commander in Europe: Israel is a “model state”
This dispatch mainly concerns Israel.
1. Supreme U.S. Commander in Europe: Israel is a “model state”
2. U.S. and IDF hold joint exercise on response to nuclear attack
3. UN to open permanent probe on Israel
4. Tania Reinhardt, campaigner against Israel’s existence, dies
5. Israel singled out by UN as being supposed abuser of women!
6. At start of the Lebanon war, France urged Israel to hit Syria
7. Poll: 28 percent of Israel’s Arabs believe the Holocaust never happened
8. Arab woman to deliver Hebrew news
9. Israel approves Jordan rail link
10. Monument dedicated to 4,000 Ethiopians who died en route to Israel
11. Leonardo DiCaprio and Bar Rafaeli tour Yad Vashem
12. Hooters heads for Tel Aviv
13. Israel to start amateur football association
14. “The struggle of free peoples in our age”
15. “Europe’s Israel problem” (Jerusalem Post, March 7, 2007)
16. “Why Europeans should support Israel” (Brussels Journal, March 12, 2007)
17. “Sudanese in Israel hope they have found a home” (NY Times, March 18, 2007)
SUPREME U.S. COMMANDER IN EUROPE: ISRAEL IS A “MODEL STATE”
The supreme commander of NATO operations in Europe and head of the U.S. European Command (EUCOM), John Craddock, has called Israel a “model state”.
Speaking before the U.S. House Armed Services Committee in Washington, Craddock said Israel was “a model state that encouraged democratic ideals and pro-Western values and economics.” He also said Israel should remain a prime beneficiary of U.S. security aid funds and was a “critical military partner” in what he called “this entangled seam of the Middle East.” Craddock’s extremely forthright comments (made last Thursday) were unusual for such a senior U.S. military officer.
U.S. AND IDF HOLD JOINT EXERCISE ON RESPONSE TO NUCLEAR ATTACK
Israel and the United States are conducting a joint military exercise the main aim of which, according to military officials in both countries, is to improve the allies’ abilities to fend off missiles equipped with nuclear, biological or chemical warheads.
This drill, however, will not now involve intercepting live missiles due to logistical constraints resulting from last summer’s Lebanon war and from U.S. deployments elsewhere.
Israel is testing the latest version of the Arrow and Patriot PAC-2 anti-missile systems. The Americans are testing, for the first time, the capabilities of their Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and Patriot PAC-3 systems. The aim of the exercise is to measure the response time in the event of a missile attack on Israel, the missile interception capabilities and the communications, battle management and command-and-control systems of both countries.
UN TO OPEN PERMANENT PROBE ON ISRAEL
The United Nations’ Human Rights Council is expected to place Israel under permanent investigation for its alleged “violations” of international law. The council is currently in its fourth session which will run until April 5.
The UN body was created last June to replace the Human Rights Commission, which was dismantled upon pressure from former U.S. ambassador to the UN John Bolton because it had a faulty membership composition and repeatedly singled out Israel for attack.
But since it was inaugurated, the 47-member body (which includes such human rights abusers as Cuba, Saudi Arabia and China) has continued to single out the Jewish State.
It has issued eight anti-Israel resolutions, and none against any other nation. It has also held three special sessions on Israel.
In the current session, the Human Rights Council is set to hear a report compiled by UN Special Rapporteur John Dugard that compares Israel to apartheid South Africa.
* For more on the false comparisons between Israel and apartheid South Africa, please see “Israeli Apartheid Week” kicks off around the world (Feb. 13, 2007).
TANIA REINHARDT, CAMPAIGNER AGAINST ISRAEL’S EXISTENCE, DIES
Meanwhile Prof. Tania Reinhardt, one of the organizers of the above-mentioned “Israeli Apartheid week,” died yesterday in her sleep in New York, aged 63.
Reinhardt had called for a worldwide boycott of Israel, and had opposed the Oslo accords on the grounds that they were designed to leave a Jewish state in existence next to a Palestinian one.
Her opinions were so extreme that she was shunned even by other far left Israelis such as Uri Avneri. “Compared to her I was a distinguished Zionist. She rejected the existence of the State of Israel,” said Avneri.
Reinhardt, a linguistics researcher, was very close to her doctoral advisor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Prof. Noam Chomsky. She also subscribed to The Guardian newspaper and urged others to read it for “the truth”.
ISRAEL SINGLED OUT BY UN AS BEING SUPPOSED ABUSER OF WOMEN!
Last Friday, the UN surpassed itself as it finished its annual session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women by singling out Israel and only Israel (which actually has a very good record on women’s rights) as being the only state “found in violation of women’s rights.”
The hundreds of thousands of women who have been killed, raped, mutilated and displaced in Sudan, the women whipped in Saudi Arabia, hanged for “adultery” in Iran, forced to abort in China, murdered in honor killings in Holland, England and elsewhere, all these were ignored by the UN as it attacked only Israel.
The vote against Israel was 40 for and 2 against, with only the United States and Canada voting against. Amazingly (or perhaps not) Germany, on behalf of the European Union, voted against Israel.
For more, see this excellent article published today on National Review Online by Anne Bayefsky. (Both Anne Bayefsky and the editors at the National Review are longtime subscribers to this list.)
AT START OF THE LEBANON WAR, FRANCE URGED ISRAEL TO HIT SYRIA
According to a report on Israeli army radio yesterday, French President Jacques Chirac told Israel at the start of last year’s war with Hizbullah that France would welcome an Israeli assault on Syria. In a message delivered by Chirac to Israel via a secret channel, the French president suggested that Israel invade Damascus and topple the regime of Bashar Assad. In exchange, Chirac promised that Israel would receive full French support.
Former Israeli ambassador to France Nissim Zvilli told Army Radio, “President Chirac saw Syria as directly responsible for the attempt to undermine the Lebanese regime. He saw them as directly responsible for the murder of [former Lebanese prime minister] Rafik Hariri and directly responsible for arming Hizbullah. Likewise, he saw Syria as the one giving Hizbullah orders on how to operate.”
POLL: 28 PERCENT OF ISRAEL’S ARABS BELIEVE THE HOLOCAUST NEVER HAPPENED
More than a quarter of Israel’s Arab citizens believe the Holocaust never happened, according to an extensively prepared poll published by the University of Haifa yesterday (Sunday).
The poll, conducted by Sami Smoocha, a prominent sociologist, showed 28 percent of Israeli Arabs believe the Holocaust is a myth, and that among college graduates the figure was even higher 33 percent.
Asked about last summer’s war with Hizbullah, nearly half of the Israeli Arabs polled 48 percent said they believed that Hizbullah’s rocket attacks on northern Israel were justified, even though numerous Arabs were killed and wounded in those attacks.
Half of Israeli Arab respondents said Hizbullah’s abduction of IDF reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev from Israeli territory was justified. (For more on Hizbullah, see: www.tomgrossmedia.com/HizbullahIran.html)
Israeli-Arab Member of the Knesset Ahmed Tibi said he was dismayed by the poll findings. He added that the Holocaust was “the worst crime ever against humanity” and that Holocaust denial is “immoral.”
Meantime, Palestinians celebrated the forming of the Hamas-Fatah unity government yesterday by firing five Qassam rockets into Israel in an attempt to murder Israeli civilians. Even though the BBC and others reported the formation of the Palestinian government as their main international news story yesterday, they completely failed to mention the rocket attacks on Israel in news broadcasts.
One of the rockets landed in an industrial zone in southern Ashkelon very close to a strategic facility.
This morning a long-distance Palestinian sniper from Gaza shot and wounded an Israeli repairman working over the border at a gas terminal near Kibbutz Nahal Oz. He has been evacuated to Beersheba’s Soroka Hospital.
Norway has become the first European state to welcome the new extremist Palestinian government.
ARAB WOMAN TO DELIVER HEBREW NEWS
An Arab woman is to be the new Hebrew-language anchor for Israel’s popular Channel 10 television news. Lucy Aharish, an Israeli Arab graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said she was looking forward to the job.
Aharish, 25, told the Hebrew daily Ma’ariv that although she has experienced racism in Israel, she believes Arabs can overcome such challenges and succeed. Having barely survived an attack on her family car when she visited Gaza as a child, she also voiced some antipathy to Palestinian terrorism.
Aharish is the fourth generation of a Muslim family who moved to Nazareth but spent most of her life in the southern town of Dimona, where she celebrated Jewish festivals and served in Gadna, Israel’s paramilitary youth training program.
“The truth is that I don’t regret for a moment that my parents raised me in a Jewish environment. They gave me the privilege to be broad-minded and look at the whole picture. I am grateful for this,” she said.
ISRAEL APPROVES JORDAN RAIL LINK
The Israeli government has approved an extensive regional cooperation project which includes the creation of a railway linking Jordan to the northern Israeli port of Haifa.
The plan, dubbed the “economic peace corridor,” is spearheaded by Minister for Regional Development Shimon Peres, and includes a wide variety of projects between Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians.
The project includes the construction of a 160-kilometre canal between the Red Sea and the gradually-evaporating Dead Sea, a joint airport for the three countries, and the creation of a regional industrial zone. One of the most ground-breaking projects would be linking Israel’s railway system to Jordan’s railway to allow future transport of goods from Iraq and Jordan to Haifa.
The bulk of the project will be financed by the World Bank and foreign governments, said Peres.
MONUMENT DEDICATED TO 4,000 ETHIOPIANS WHO DIED EN ROUTE TO ISRAEL
A monument commemorating more than 4,000 Ethiopian Jews who died in Sudan while attempting to reach Israel was dedicated at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem last week.
Thousands of Ethiopian Jews immigrated to Israel via Sudan in the 1970s. In 1984, Operation Moses airlifted thousands more who had been residing in camps in Sudan. However, that operation was halted after details were leaked to the media. While residing in Sudan, the Ethiopians were robbed, murdered and raped, and suffered from hunger and disease. More than 4,000 died.
“Finally, we will have a place of mourning,” said Ethiopian-Israeli Uri Rada, who campaigned for years to have the monument erected. “We will be able to commune with the memories of our loved ones in a dignified place.”
The dedication ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other dignitaries.
LEONARDO DICAPRIO AND BAR RAFAELI TOUR YAD VASHEM
Hollywood heartthrob Leonardo DiCaprio and his girlfriend, Israeli model Bar Rafaeli, toured the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum last week, which opened after hours especially for their visit to avoid the venue being disrupted by DiCaprio’s legions of fans.
DiCaprio apparently showed great interest in the tour and was moved by the experience, asking many questions and pausing thoughtfully at various displays, according to staff at Yad Vashem who subscribe to this email list.
HOOTERS HEADS FOR TEL AVIV
Hooters, the U.S. restaurant chain, famous for waitresses in low-cut blouses and short skirts, and for its spicy chicken wings, has announced it is to open its first branch in Tel Aviv this summer.
Ofer Ahiraz, the man responsible for bringing the franchise to Israel told Reuters, “I strongly believe that the Hooters concept is something that Israelis are looking for Hooters can suit the Israeli entertainment culture.”
Ahiraz said a specific location in Tel Aviv, Israel’s most cosmopolitan city, had yet to be chosen, but he said it would not open restaurants near large religious populations, and they would not be kosher. In the next few years there could be as many as five Hooters restaurants in Israel, including one in Eilat.
International food chains such as Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and Hard Rock Cafe have already failed in Israel where local restaurants and cafes are often particularly good.
ISRAEL TO START AMATEUR FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION
Following hot on the heels of the launch of a professional baseball league this summer, Israel will start an amateur tackle football association in the fall.
Steve Leibowitz, president of Israel’s flag football association, announced the formation of the new four-team league in a ceremony last week at the Kraft Family Stadium.
In attendance was Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots of the National Football League. Kraft donated the money for the stadium, the only one in Israel designed for American football. The IFL plans to kick off with teams in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa and Kfar Saba.
For more on the Israeli baseball league, see Israel to have its own baseball league (& Iran bars women from soccer matches) (May 19, 2006).
“THE STRUGGLE OF FREE PEOPLES IN OUR AGE”
I attach three articles below.
The first is an editorial from the Jerusalem Post. It says that “Perhaps the best explanation, then, is one given by Stephan Vopel of the German Bertelsmann Foundation for why many more Americans and Israelis favor a military strike against Iran than Germans: “While Israelis subscribe to the maxim ‘never again,’ the German dictum is ‘never again war.’” Pacifism, in other words, is the driving force behind European animus toward both the U.S. and Israel.”
The second article is from Brussels Journal, a popular European blog “set up by European journalists and writers to restore three values that are so lacking in the so-called ‘consensus-culture’ of contemporary Europe: Freedom, the quest for Knowledge, and the Truth.”
The blog post, written by “Fjordman”, a Norwegian contributor, is in agreement with the Jerusalem Post editorial: “The Holocaust was an unspeakable crime. It also did massive damage to Europe’s own identity and cultural confidence, and is one of the major causes of Europe’s seeming inability to withstand the ongoing Islamic Jihad.”
The final article below, is a rare positive piece on Israel from the New York Times. It is a report on the black Sudanese refugees now being given protection in Israel having fled from their Arab attackers in Sudan.
It reports that “roughly 200 of the Sudanese in Israel are Muslim, including about 100 who fled the bloodshed in Darfur.” According to the article, the refugees come from Egypt: “After they began hearing that they would be jailed in Israel, they still came, so desperate were they to leave Egypt.”
-- Tom Gross
EUROPE’S ISRAEL PROBLEM
Europe’s Israel problem
The Jerusalem Post
March 7, 2007
Two recent polls tell us what we already knew: Israel is relatively popular among Americans and the subject of considerable antipathy among European democracies. The data suggest that Americans see themselves with Israelis in the same boat, while Europeans have an almost opposite point of view. Why is this so and what, if anything, can be done about it?
The US poll, conducted by Gallup, found that Americans are more pro-Israel than they were 10 and 20 years ago and now sympathize with Israel three times more than with the Palestinians: 58 percent to 20%. Since 2000, Gallup polls have shown that fewer Americans express no preference on the conflict, with most of the shift from the undecided column moving in Israel’s favor.
In the second poll, the BBC asked people in 27 nations to rate a group of countries and found that Iran and Israel were almost tied for the spot of the country most people saw as a “mainly negative influence.” Only in the US and Nigeria did a plurality see Israel as a “mainly positive” influence. By contrast, in Germany, France and Great Britain, 77%, 66% and 65%, respectively, viewed Israel as having a “mainly negative” influence.
These same European countries viewed Iran even more dimly 78%, 86% and 76% negative, respectively, and the US in an only slightly less negative light 74%, 69% and 57% negative, respectively.
Some may interpret these data as evidence of European anti-Semitism. It is, indeed, difficult to entirely avoid such conclusions when the Jewish state is so blithely painted with the same brush as Iran, a dictatorship that opposes every value Europeans claim to believe in, openly foments terrorism and is racing to obtain nuclear weapons.
Yet, according to the BBC poll, Germans and French see the US and Israel in almost identically negative terms, with the British showing slightly less anti-American sentiment.
Perhaps the best explanation, then, is one given by Stephan Vopel of the German Bertelsmann Foundation for why many more Americans and Israelis favor a military strike against Iran than Germans: “While Israelis subscribe to the maxim ‘never again,’ the German dictum is ‘never again war.’” Pacifism, in other words, is the driving force behind European animus toward both the US and Israel.
Europeans realize that Iran is a threat, but they are almost as, if not more, opposed to confronting that threat than they are fearful of the threat itself.
The US and Israel, as the nations that are perceived both as Iran’s main targets and as those most actively fighting back, are threats to the European strategy of lying low and hoping that their adversary will go away.
Further, America and Israel are both seen as provoking Iran and therefore making things worse.
Is there anything Israel or the US, for that matter can do to change this European environment? Though it might not be decisive, the most powerful thing the US can do to shift European opinion is to speak with one voice, at least in areas of bipartisan agreement. While Democrats and Republicans disagree on Iraq, they agree that a nuclear Iran is unacceptable and that sanctions must be tightened dramatically to force the Iranian regime to back down.
If a bipartisan message to this effect were to emerge from Washington, it could help signal Europeans that it is not just the “cowboy” Bush administration that is pushing for draconian sanctions, but liberal Democrats who believe that confronting Teheran now with nonmilitary means is the best way to avoid both war and the threat of a nuclear Iran.
Israel, for its part, needs to stress that it faces a struggle for existence against the same jihadi axis that threatens Europe, as symbolized by the hugs this week between Hamas’s Khaled Mashaal and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Teheran.
Ultimately, it will be difficult to convince Europeans that they need to help defend Israel, at least morally, when they do not accept the need to defend themselves. Such, however, is the struggle of free peoples in our age, a struggle that must be won.
“EUROPEANS NEED TO UNDERSTAND HOW CLOSELY INTERTWINED ARE THE FATES OF ISRAEL AND OF EUROPE ITSELF”
Why Europeans should support Israel
March 12, 2007
One of the most frustrating things to watch is the powerful anti-Israeli and sometimes outright anti-Semitic current that is prevalent in too much of Europe’s media. Bat Ye’or’s predictions about Arab anti-Semitism spreading in Europe as the continent’s Islamization and descent into Eurabia continues have so far proved depressingly accurate. This trend needs to be fought, vigorously, by all serious European anti-Jihadists. Not only because it is immoral and unfair to Israelis, which it is, but also because those who assist it are depriving Europeans of the opportunity to fully grasp the threat and understand the nature of the Jihad that is now targeting much of Europe as well.
In 2005 the Norwegian police issued a mobile security alarm to Carl I. Hagen, leader of the right-wing Progress Party. Mr. Hagen had criticized Islam and could see no similarity with the concept of morality and justice found in Christianity. During the 1990s, Mr. Hagen was one of the few politicians who protested against giving money to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as a part of the Norwegian-brokered Oslo Peace Process.
Hagen said that if Israel loses in the Middle East, Europe will succumb to Islam next. He felt that Christians should support Israel and oppose Islamic inroads into Europe. In an unprecedented step, a group of Muslim ambassadors to Norway blasted Carl I. Hagen in a letter to the newspaper Aftenposten, claiming that he had offended 1.3 billion Muslims around the world. Other Norwegian politicians quickly caved in and condemned Hagen. Maybe Norway, “the country of peace” and home to the Nobel Peace Prize, will get along just fine with Islam, “the religion of peace.”
Although some political leaders such as Mr. Carl I. Hagen have a clear understanding of what’s going on, they are unfortunately few and far between. Most European media commentators are hostile to the Jewish state of Israel, partly because they get angry with anybody defending themselves against Islamic Jihad instead of surrendering, and partly because they want to project their own feelings of guilt from the Holocaust onto Israel by recasting the Jews as villains and the Palestinians as victims.
French filmmaker Pierre Rehov made the film Suicide Killers where he interviewed the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. He warns that we are facing “a neurosis at the level of an entire civilization,” a “culture of hatred in which the uneducated are brainwashed to a level where their only solution in life becomes to kill themselves and kill others in the name of a God. I hear a mother saying ‘Thank God, my son is dead.’ Her son had became a shaheed, a martyr, which for her was a greater source of pride than if he had became an engineer, a doctor or a winner of the Nobel Prize. [...] They don’t see the innocent being killed, they only see the impure that they have to destroy.”
Rehov believes that we are dealing with “a new form of Nazism” that it is going to spread to Europe and the United States, too.
Spanish journalist Sebastian Villar Rodriguez claims that Europe died in Auschwitz: “We assassinated 6 million Jews in order to end up bringing in 20 million Muslims!” Yet in 2007, Ciempozuelos, a small Madrid suburb, refused to commemorate Holocaust Day and opted instead to commemorate the ‘Day of Palestinian Genocide.’ In Britain following Muslim pressure, the Bolton Council scrapped its Holocaust Memorial Day event. The Muslim Council of Britain asked for a Genocide Day to protest the Israeli “genocide” against the Palestinians. The secretary-general of the MCB, Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, has earlier compared the situation of Muslims in Britain to Jews under Hitler.
We thus have the absurd situation where the Nazis of today are presented as Jews while the Jews are presented as Nazis.
French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut thinks that Auschwitz has become part of the foundation of the European Union, a culture based on guilt. “I can understand the feeling of remorse that is leading Europe to this, but this remorse goes too far.” It is too great a gift to present Hitler to reject every single aspect of European culture. This is said by the Jewish son of an Auschwitz prisoner.
The Holocaust was an unspeakable crime. It also did massive damage to Europe’s own identity and cultural confidence, and is one of the major causes of Europe’s seeming inability to withstand the ongoing Islamic Jihad.
As Hugh Fitzgerald notes, “Fortunately for so many, and for the Arabs, the victory of Israel in the Six-Day War promptly provided a reason to depict Jews as villains, not victims. This found an eager audience of Europeans, who were already eager for psychological reasons to find fault with Jews so as to avoid thinking unduly about the behavior of many European peoples and states during the war. [...] The damage done to the morale of Europe because of the destruction of European Jewry has been great. If Western Europe, or the West generally, were after all that has happened to permit Israel to go under, Europe would not recover.”
He warns that those who believe sacrificing Israel would in any way stop the global Jihad are very wrong. On the contrary, “The loss of Israel would fill the Arabs and Muslims with such triumphalism that their Jihad in Western Europe and elsewhere (including the Americas) would receive a gigantic boost. The duty is to make sure that Islam covers the globe; that Islam dominates, and Muslims rule.”
Europeans need to understand how closely intertwined are the fates of Israel and of Europe itself. The term “Judeo-Christian” is not a cliche. We cannot defend Western civilization without defending its Jewish component, without which modern Western culture would have been unthinkable.
The religious identity of the West has two legs: The Christian and the Jewish ones. It needs both to stand upright. Sacrificing one to save the other is like fighting a battle by chopping off one of your legs, throwing it at the feet of your enemies and shouting: “You won’t get the other one! We will never surrender!” We could always hope that our enemies will laugh themselves to death faster than we bleed to death, the Monty Python way of fighting. Maybe that works, but most likely it will leave us crippled and pathetic, if not dead.
I agree with Mr. Finkielkraut: To reduce absolutely everything about Europe to gas chambers, thereby allowing the Nazis the opportunity to expropriate everything that has been created during thousands of years, is to grant Adolf Hitler victory posthumously. We should not award him that pleasure, especially since what would replace Western civilization would be Islamic culture, the most warlike and anti-Semitic on earth, and greatly admired by Mr. Hitler for it.
We cannot change what has happened in the past. We should, however, consider it our duty to combat anti-Semitism in the here and now and make sure that the remaining Jews both in Europe and in Israel are safe. This is not just because it is our moral and historical obligation, which it is, but also because we only gain the right to defend ourselves against Islamization of we grant the same right to Israel. Likewise, we can only begin to heal our self-inflicted civilizational wounds if we embrace the Jewish component of our cultural identity.
FLEEING SUDAN TO THE SAFETY OF ISRAEL
Sudanese in Israel hope they have found a home
By Dina Kraft
The New York Times
March 18, 2007
It is a simple tin shed on the edge of a carrot field, but the young man from Darfur is relieved to call it home.
There is room enough for a pair of beds, a small refrigerator and a stove. Outside, a wooden table is propped under a tree. Here, he savors his meals, feels the sun on his face and fills his notebook with the details of his long journey to Israel.
It is a welcome change from the 13 months he spent in an Israeli prison, locked up for illegally entering the country one of some 300 Sudanese arrivals whose illegal entry via Egypt and status as citizens from an enemy country landed them in prison.
The son and grandson of a line of ruling sheiks in his village, the 29-year-old prefers not to be identified by name. He fears for his family’s safety should it be discovered that he has ended up seeking refuge in Israel, a place he once knew only as an enemy.
In his journal, the young man recorded his first day out of jail as “Freedom Day.”
“It was a very important day in my life, a turning point,” he said. “I felt as if it was my first day in Israel. I never had really seen Israel before.”
After rounds of Supreme Court appeals, parliamentary hearings and a public push by human rights groups, some of the detained Sudanese are beginning to be released to collective farms known as kibbutzim and moshavim, while their official refugee status can be determined and a country of asylum found. About 190 remain in custody.
Roughly 200 of the Sudanese in Israel are Muslim, including about 100 who fled the bloodshed in Darfur. Others include Christians who say they are fleeing persecution from southern Sudan and those simply looking for work.
In Egypt, their prior haven, they struggled with poverty and dismissiveness and sometimes outright hostility from the authorities. Some of them had been part of a Sudanese encampment in a Cairo park in December 2005, meant to try to pressure officials in the nearby United Nations office to relocate them. When they refused to follow the orders of Egyptian authorities to disperse, they were blasted with water cannons and dragged away. Twenty-seven people were reportedly killed in the melee.
Some of the Sudanese in Egypt then began moving on. Israel attracted them simply because it is easy to get there from Egypt, but many say they would be content to stay if granted asylum. Most begin their trip by bus from Cairo to towns closer to the Israeli border. From there they cross the desert on foot, sometimes with hired Bedouin guides.
Once in Israel, they usually sit by the roadside waiting for an army patrol to pick them up. When they first started coming, they assumed they would be taken to local United Nations offices. After they began hearing that they would be jailed in Israel, they still came, so desperate were they to leave Egypt.
The young man now living in the tin shed said he had no choice but to leave Egypt after being followed and harassed by security police after he was ousted from the Cairo encampment in the 2005 raid that cost his wife her life. He found her name on a list of the dead, he said, after days of going from hospital to hospital searching for her.
The presence of refugees from the Darfur conflict, which the United States calls genocide, presents Israel with a particularly difficult problem.
Israel, founded in the shadow of the Holocaust, has felt a responsibility to harbor refugees plucking Vietnamese boat people out of international waters, for example.
But now, government officials fear that if word spreads that Israel is a good place to settle, their country could be overwhelmed by large waves of refugees from Sudan and elsewhere in Africa. Mediterranean countries, particularly Spain and Malta, have been stunned by surging African migration, much of it illegal.
“Israel is endeavoring to be as humane as possible,” said Mark Regev, a Foreign Ministry spokesman. “Israel has a special understanding of the genocide in Darfur. We have a very real compassion for the refugees, and no one is being turned back.” But, he added, “Israel does not have the capability to deal with all of Africa’s refugees, so we have to be mindful.”
Mr. Regev said Israeli authorities were in discussion with Egypt about sending some Sudanese back there, and with other governments and international organizations about their possible repatriation.
Israeli human rights groups like the Committee for Advancement of Refugees from Darfur, which has led efforts to get the Sudanese out of jail, say officials are deliberately exaggerating the likelihood of drawing more refugees as an excuse for inaction.
Even after the government agreed to substitute their time in prison with placements on farms for a time, the release process is slow, advocates say.
Yosef Lapid, a former justice minister, noted the parallel with “the historical curiosity” of German Jews who escaped Hitler, landing in England only to be put in detention camps because they, like today’s Sudanese refugees in Israel, were considered enemy nationals.
“I don’t think that the Jewish people can look the other way when such a horrible genocide is being conducted. It is our obligation to be as of much help as we can,” said Mr. Lapid, a Holocaust survivor.
[A group of Sudanese recently were taken on a tour of the museum at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial. They stood silently, some wiping away tears as they looked at photographs of corpses and cases displaying children’s dolls and a mother’s final postcard. “It was very hard to see this, really shocking,” said a 24-year-old man who fled Darfur last year. “It reminded me of my own people. I hope one day we can have a museum like this in Darfur.”]
Theo Kaminer, who is coordinating the kibbutz movement’s efforts to take in the Sudanese, said the farms felt a moral obligation.
“If not us, who will help them?” he said. “No one else is lifting a hand. These people are refugees from a Holocaust.”
The young man now living in the tin shed emerged from a low-security jail in central Israel last month, arm in arm with other Darfur refugees.
He and another of the released Sudanese, who also asked not to be named, now spend their days working the farm’s irrigation system in the eucalyptus- and cedar-lined fields.
The second refugee, 39, said he was relieved to be out of prison, but grateful that it had been so different from his time in Sudanese custody. Then, he said, he was beaten routinely. Now, he prays to be reunited with his family.
During a break from work, the young man sits at the table by the tin shed and thumbs through his notebooks.
In neat blue ink, he has written a timeline of his life and the names of his relatives and their birthdates.
The day Arab militiamen swept their village, shooting to kill and setting fires, he fled to the nearby hills on foot. He remembers dense smoke and screams. But he does not know the fate of his mother and eight siblings, including his twin sister.
When he crossed into Israel, after an all-night trek through the desert, his throat was parched and his hands bloodied. But he felt a need to record what happened.
“I had one pen in my pocket and started writing,” he said.
He says he wants a permanent home be it in Israel or some other country that will accept him.
For now he awakes at dawn to pray and takes in the sunrise.
“I feel like my life was hidden in darkness and now there is a little bit of light,” he said. Then he climbed on a tractor and headed to work.