Monday, June 12, 2006

Sudan's 'genocide' lands at Israel's door

"And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13"and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good?  18"He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. 19"Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.      Deuteronomy 10:12-13, 18-19 New King James Version

By Joshua Mitnick | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
TEL AVIV - Shlomo Reisman remembers vividly from his childhood the visage of Jewish refugee kids after World War II.

Now, a new group of refugees is slipping into the country illegally - a mix of Muslims and Christians from a country that's officially at war with Israel.

As Israel decides what to do with those who have fled what the US has described as a "genocide," Reisman says the government should be mindful of Jewish history.

That sentiment is part of an emerging debate in Israel over whether the Jewish state has a moral obligation to release from jail the refugees fleeing Sudan's civil war and genocide.

The flow of refugees to Israel has picked up over the past six months since 27 Sudanese asylum seekers were killed late December in clashes with Egyptian police at a sit-in demonstration at a UN refugee agency office in Cairo.

I was afraid that my visa had expired and they would take me back to Sudan," says Deng, a Sudanese refugee who paid $600 to a Bedouin guide to sneak him into Israel from the Egyptian Sinai desert.

"Prison is a prison, but it's better here than the jail in Sudan or life in Egypt," he says.

During a recent hearing in parliament, Israeli Interior Minister Roni Bar-On told legislators that security forces often try to return the refugees to the Egyptian side of the border.

Avner Shalev, chairman of Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust museum and memorial, recently appealed to Mr. Olmert on behalf of the refugees.

"We are not sending anyone back to Darfur," says Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mark Regev, a son of Holocaust survivors who took umbrage at the World War II association.

Summarized by Copernic Summarizer


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