Posted Olja Andrynowska
Banner with the inscription was being held by one of the Eritrean men during a demonstration at the Embassy of the United States last Friday of November in Tel Aviv. Other banners almost screamed:
“USA: The Victims need your help”,
“Eritrean lives are not for sale”,
“Rape in Sinai must be stopped”.
Some Israeli politicians have developed a habit of repeating that the asylum seekers in Israel are not threatened by anything or anyone in the countries they come in search of work, but absolutely do not take into account that over 50% of asylum seekers in Israel come from Eritrea, a small country situated in the Horn of Africa, which enjoys a well deserved bad reputation because of the lack of freedom of speech and brutal regime repeatedly violating human rights. Eritreans are the majority of victims of organized groups of Bedouin who smuggle the Israeli border in the count from $350 to $7,000 (following: “The Self-Perceived Needs of Homeless African Refugees in Tel Aviv’s Levinsky Park,” Suhail Stephen and Michael Schmautz.) (depending on race, religion and other factors), and if you are not able to meet the financial requirements Bedouins are to withstand as hostages, who can be a source of ograns to be transplanted and the victims of the most abominable crimes to frighten the rest. Women are brutally raped and many of them give birth to their children in Israel after because they are kept in prison in the Negev desert Saharonim too long to be still able to make abortion ( Quotation “An open letter from ARDC,” written by Nicholas Schlagman.) Further 35% comes from the Sudan, in particular from the two zones of conflict: Darfur and Southern Sudan and they are often people who managed to escape a brutal slaughter. The rest are citizens of different countries, including African, but not only. It is true that the number of asylum seekers is growing almost exponentially and is now estimated for 45,000 people. Why, instead of writing “refugee” I use the term ‘asylum seeker’? Well, it turns out that in a country founded by Jewish refugees, survivors of the Shoah, the reception of such status is equal to being the victims of modern genocide. Israel has not ratified the Geneva Convention of 1951, according to which:
“A refugee is a person who as a result founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or does not want to because of these concerns enjoy the protection of that country, or who has no nationality and being the result of such events, outside the country of his former habitual residence is unable or unwilling to return because of these concerns to the state. “
Since the inception of the State of Israel, the refugee status was granted to 190 people , while according to UNHCR, more than a hundred of them already live in Israel. The Olmert government decided to give the temporary status to the first 500 refugees from Darfur, but most of them had left Israel, or are getting ready for departure. Therefore it is an abuse which is based on telling people that the greatest dream of asylum seekers in Israel, is to remain in this country forever. The exceptional uncertainty about the fate makes it impossible to build a normal future there and refugees above all need a sense of security, not speculations concerning any future prospects. The reality of refugees in Israel is not optimistic one because their status is a kind of limbo - the abyss without the possibility of change, or the situation, of which they are often well aware.
Refugees from Africa usually receive conditional release visa, which must be renewed every three months what in practice means the only protection against deportation. The basic problem is that the vast majority of refugees is deprived of the opportunity to find legal employment, thus they are forced to work on the black market without any guarantee of receiving compensation or they appeal to doomed to charity organizations which have limited possibilities and thus cannot meet the needs of the number of people who currently stay in the Israel limbo. Some of the refugees are highly educated people and if they can count on any kind of work in Israel, it is usually the worst sort of physical work. Lawyer washing dishes at Tel Aviv’s lovely restaurant may not complain about his fate, but I look at it in disbelief and I wish that people changed their residence to a country that will reward them for their work, not only providing the basic rights, but also opportunities for development, according to their qualifications. Not only stalemate situation in the labor market is degrading for them - hundreds of refugees are becoming homeless, what can be seen around the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station . Every day late in the evening I pass people sleeping on playgrounds for children, the station building, in almost every available shelter. No one knows the number of women and children who live on the streets of Tel Aviv, and yet I know that most women in shelters, were taken there straight from the street. Refugees left to themselves are not able to meet the high cost of living. Sometimes I wonder if tourists and residents of the “white” and “bauhaus” Tel Aviv, know this. Perhaps living in the center or north of the city makes you unaware of the seriousness of the situation and labeling the refugees as economic migrants does not help them.
With all this discussion in the Knesset the law allowing to put in the prison all those who cross the Israeli border illegally in search of a safer piece of land, sounds like a gloomy joke. The people helping the opressed - often the ones that avoided being the victims of genocide - may also land in prison. How is it possible that in a democratic country such solutions are being discussed?
During my first visit in Israel I took part in the meeting for the new olim and one sentence is still in my memory:
“Israel is a country where everyone can make phone call to the Prime Minister”.
And I thought how it was amazing and quite comparable to Poland, the country where I was born. Now I think about - everyone or who? Maybe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, instead of going to Africa, could explore neglected southern neighborhoods of Tel Aviv? Maybe the politicians instead of repeating the data, could meet real people and ask them who are they and why they are in Israel? And finally, whether the scars remaining after excision of the kidneys are convincing?
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December 14, 2011 | 1:32 pm
Posted by Klaudia Klimek
TSKŻ- Social-Cultural Association of Jews in Poland is looking for heirs of houses, flats that during the WWII lost their owners.
If your name is… or you are a relative of this person:
1 Abraham Blumenkranz
2 Abrahamer Mendel
3 Abrahamer vel Mendel Emanuel
4 Altman Sara
5 Anna Staalerowa
6 Aron Bietscher
7 Becker Maurycy Jozef
8 Beitscher Aron
9 Beitscher Chawka Ryfka
10 Beitscher Maria
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Very soon new list of heirs, please follow us.
December 14, 2011 | 3:35 am
Posted Pavel Pustelnik, UK
Who sees the elephant?
The event you should have taken part in? Civic Society Days on Migration and Human Development organized in Geneva in December this year is one of those. It has shown that we have a problem that we do not want to talk about.
What Is It All About?
Migration is one of those issues that high rank officials seem to remain silent on and smoothly switch to climate change, hunger in Africa or humongous deficit in country A, B or C. Even the United Nations, who claims to deal with all the problems of the world is reluctant to fill its agenda with the problems of migrants. If they are irregular, the situation is even worse. Obviously, there has been the High Level Dialogue on Migration back in 2006, but since then not more has changed. However, the elephant IS in the room. One of the effect of that status quo can be observed by the increased role of the civic society organizations. They tend to grab the unwanted land playing more and more important role in identifying problems and playing a key role in agenda-setting. Civic Society Days once again were supposed to be the tool for the global policy makers to consult the public and see what the problems are. The problems that from behind the fence of the UN quarters in Geneva may look very different.
This year over 180 delegates representing organizations that are dealing with migration has been invited to take part in the consultations that played a role of a side event to the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD). The participants of the main event have been mostly government representatives and consultations were populated by practitioners. They ranged from academia, business, human rights organizations as well as religious associations or churches. This misleadingly wide array could have been significantly reduced because more than 500 applicants have been rejected.
You’ve got 15 minutes
The NGOs have been meeting to for three days to work on a Statement that was presented to the governmental forum. The final version was of 13 pages and the chosen representatives were given 15 minutes to present the main ideas of the document. – The meeting is not about this quarter of hour that you are given. It is mostly about the fact that we meet here and can network, we can see the problems we are facing and look for solutions – says Carol Barton, who was in the United Methodist Church’s delegation. Most of the participants had this impression. Obviously, the constant sensitizing is vital, but the outcomes cannot be taken for granted.
Off the UN
Events like GFMD tend to be associated with a rigid schedule of meetings, lobbying for specific points in the agenda and polished-glass-environment of the UN buildings. Features that cause allergy to some of the activists, who suffocate there. There was a special space for them: Peoples’ Global Action on Migration, Development and Human Rights – where the grass roots organizations could share extensively and truly network. Seeing the contacts being exchanged all the time, projects drafted on little pieces of paper and discussions till late night was much more inspiring than sipping juice and eating pastries at the UN. The criminalization of migrants or lack of regular channels for migration finally became tangible through people who suffered from maltreatments, whose passports have been taken by the employers or whose families have been split due to hostile immigration laws.
The grey-haired man are on one side of the barricade, the group of man and women, who come from all walks of life is on the other side. The facilitation to promote the rights and the whole advocacy task relies mostly on individuals who are tremendously caring about the issue. The answer that comes from the international bodies is weak. The UN Rapporteur who comes to the activists and the only thing he can offer is saying ‘I am just writing a report, that is my task, but irregular migration is not a crime’ is not enough to fulfill the expectations.
But why was this an event that you should have taken part in? Why haven’t I written about a concert or a festival? Perhaps it is idealistic way of thinking, but the elephant will be still there, looking at us, playing with his ears and perhaps event punching our shoulders with the trunk, but as long as the migration is remaining in a shadow and rights-based policy making is a far cry, there is apparently need to engage to empower the diaspora of migrants to stand up and claim at least regularization.
Overtures of the great music pieces are well-known. Almost everyone can recognize the one that starts The Magic Flute or The Marriage of Figaro. Than, there are some pieces in the middle and it ends with a great ‘Finale’. It is similar with discussions on migration with high stake-holders. They see can easily say that the Filipinos and Filipinas are migrating, they know that there are people from North Africa trying to reach Europe or that perhaps there are some issues in Thailand. The ‘Finale’ happens when the hope for the better future drowns in the Mediterranean Sea or a huge trafficking is discovered. What is happening in between is just left apart and nobody feels responsible to tackle. The less public participation is seen in the debate over migration the less visible the problem is, and the less probable sensible labour migration policies are.
December 14, 2011 | 2:49 am
Posted Kate Rudolph, Germany
It´s sunny Sunday morning and I am in Frankfurt on Main.
Immediately after waking up I realize, where I am and why am I here at this very moment.
It`s third October and The 2nd German Israel Congress with about 200 pro-Israel organizations takes place today, It is the biggest event of this kind in Europe and I am excited to take part in it.
I am here for three reasons: I want to represent my organization Action Reconciliation Service for Peace and make some advertisement for our guest house in Jerusalem called Beit Ben Yehuda. Secondly I want to write an article for Jewrnalism and last but not least, I want to meet Mosab Hassan Youssef.
But one after another: Why does this conference take place in Frankfurt? One answer could be: for logistical reasons, It was smart to look for a city easy to get to (by plane, train or car) with a huge Congress Center which can host up to 3.000 persons, that gathered here today. The less obvious (but still important) reason is, that the city of Frankfurt has a long German- Jewish history and that Tel Aviv and Frankfurt are twin cities nowadays.
All greetings everyone underline the special relationship between (just rarely the word friendship appears) Germany and Israel. Also almost everyone of the speakers mentions the release of Gilat Shalit, which is celebrated from the audience with lots of applause.
In all greetings everyone underlines the special relationships (just rarely the word friendship appears) Germany and Israel have. Also almost everyone of the speakers mentions the release of Gilat Shalit, what is greated by the audience with applause.
While I was outside, eating some really good food and talking to some of the people from other organizations, as well as informing myself at information stands of travel agencies, the talks and discussions in the main hall kept on. Then it was Danny Ayalon´s turn to speak. In his speech he mentioned nothing that was new to me, but in the end he was asked, what he would give as a message to the Jewish Youth in Germany. He answered: “To the Jewish Youth in Germany - I would like to say: Your first loyalty belongs to your country, but you also have a responsibility towards Israel. You are privileged to live here and to live in a pro- Israel country.”
At least I have not expected that. No talk about Aliya? Nothing like ambassadors for Israel in Germany? Well, I guess, that question came unexpected also for him.
And finally the speaker I was waiting for all afternoon appeared: Mosab Hassan Youssef, co- author of the New York Times Bestseller “Son of Hamas”. In his autobiographic book he talks about his growing up in the West Bank, his families involvement in Hamas (His father was one of the seven founding members of the terror organization.) and his work with the Israeli intelligence for about ten years.
The one who once was a enemy of the state of Israel now declares: “People came here to say I like Israel I came to say I love Israel!”
Nowadays he lives in the United States and he says: “My people consider me a traitor and yes, they want to kill me.” Talking about the Israeli- Palestinian conflict he states that it is a bad idea to have an own state for Palestine. “Israel has no room for two states and we all see, what had happened in Gaza Strip. Not only Israelis would suffer, but also Palestinians.” He explains how he became the person standing in front of us now : just by following the example of Jesus, who was thought “Love your enemy.” By understanding and suiting the action to the word, his whole life changed.
Later, while buying his book and letting him signing it - still full with all the impressions of his speech- I would love to ask him a thousand questions, but all I hear coming out of my mouth is a stuttering “Thank you!”
Anyway when I met an ex-terrorist leader on a conference, whose topic is “Peace through Security - Security through Peace”I feel strange. No one could have expressed this theme in one person better than Mosab Hassan Youssef. And I start to dream, if there would be just 10 more people like him in the Palestinian - Israeli society, we might keep on going forward in a Peace process. But then I wake up from my daydream and ask myself: but when this story is too good to be true and when he is just a rare exception - what wouyld happen then?
Maybe, I think and I try to convince myself, maybe one day there will be Peace in the Middle East, but not today and not tomorrow. There is still a long way before us to go : education, sharing resources (water, energy etc.), learning each other´s narrative and stopping racism and hatred. I want to close with one last quote of Mosab, who says: “I hope that none of my children will go through what I did.”
In the end, I guess, we are all just human beings and not as different as we think. We want Peace, if not for us, at least for the next generation.
December 13, 2011 | 12:04 pm
Posted Ian Shulman, Austria
yes wasn’t it miserable wasn’t it grand
when the world had an iron divide
and people could take a political stand
just by singing a song for the opposite side
now nobody cares who you are anymore
and nobody cares what you say
it’s liberty’s curse
but was it really much worse
in the good old bad old days
Daniel Kahn, “Good Old Bad Old Days”, 2011
The newly (re-)invented genre named “Jewish radical music” sounds odd even for those who know something more about Jewish music in general. What can old and lovely Klezmer, sweet and bitter forgotten tunes of Jewish Eastern Europe, fight for today? Veyz mir. Well, we can bring those songs back to life and let everyone enjoy it, after all, Balkan style is popular nowadays. We can even sing about something different. Merry songs about Israel. All right, even sad songs about Holocaust. But how on Earth can Klezmer be radical?
Daniel Kahn knows how. This Detroit-born and Berlin-based singer-songwriter takes Klezmer standards, blends them with some jazz, rock and French chanson flavours and stiffs them with his own lyrics, or at least quite unusual translations. His instruments range from rather Klezmeric accordion to a music box and a megaphone. Yet all of that would never be enough to be truly radical.Daniel brings all your most Jewish conversations right from your small Jewish table packed with your a little bit drunk closest Jewish friends and shouts them out . He sings about a Berlin love-story (“oh my lover, my murderers’ daughter, accoumplice of all of my sins”), recalls a hundred-year old anthem of Jewish workers’ movement, which seems to regain its meaning (“through the city streets we go, idle as a CEO”), recalls Abba Kovner with his after-war revenge plans in a song named “Six Million Germans” (“Can vengeance put upon a shelf be taken out later on someone else?”). Of course, Daniel’s repertoire includes more neutral songs, which are performed live more often - these are generally variations on traditional Chassidic/Klezmer tunes such as “Yesterday is Buried”, Yiddish versions of ‘Lili Marleen’ and ‘The Internationale’ and even a Yiddish-Russian-English cover on ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ by The Rolling Stones, performed together with Russian songwriter Psoy Korolenko.
Kahn keeps on impressing the audience with an elaborate choice of venues - for example in Vienna he performs in a WWII bunker, while in Berlin the gig is taking place in former Nazi airfield, Tempelhof.That’s where I got a chance to meet him in person - a person in a black leather jacket squeezing through the crowd with some boxes shortly before the concert appeared to be the performer himself.
You might say that Daniel is nothing more then a provocateur playing around with his beloved pre- and in- war Jewish topics which are, of course, noteworthy, but irrelevant for the last 70 years. You might even say that this “Jewish radical music” can’t be radical or shocking anymore, at least in Europe. But why then Daniel decided not to sing his “Six Million Germans” live? Will you yourself rather put on your headphones if you like to hear “cause history has its unpaid debts / and is it better if we forget?”. Will you post a song on your classmate’s Facebook wall with such words as “You won’t ever have to leave your nation / You won’t ever have to even try / Just make a secret inner emigration / & you won’t ever have to say goodbye”? It is certainly a matter of one’s attitude. As for me, I probably won’t. It’s not because I am afraid of misunderstandings or being indiscreet. It’s just because Dan Kahn is one of my slightly drunk Jewish friends at my tiny Jewish table. And what is said, proclaimed or sung there is meant to stay there.
December 13, 2011 | 2:10 am
Posted Dana Hadadi Israel/ Hungary
There’s something both confusing and exciting about taking part in a pioneer project. It concerns finding your place, your voice, your impact. The search… My name is Dana, and I’m addicted to the rush of new beginnings. Before I decided to add my personal opinion I have read four articles.
Let’s try it out and see how it goes.
Back in my beloved Jerusalem I took my first steps in the Israeli film industry, but much before I was an active writer and producer in the Tel-Avivian Fringe theater scene. I adore stages, the people standing on them, and the people who took the time out to gather for 2 hours in a collective experience of sharing some social signs of their culture, and exploring their humanity by their reactions to what is presented for them on stage. Signs such as musical notes, a mixture of colors, a sense of humour.
Coming to Budapest I stepped out of my own individual artistic isolation to face the existence of a community. Some eye brows could rose up here: You? An Israeli? Never experienced a sense of a community in the land of all Jews? That’s right. Cynical as I was when I was initially introduced to the concept, it attracted me strongly. And my God, what a wonderful surprising breath-taking life change it was. Could you believe, a very large percentage of my generation is not aware at all of the beauty of the Jewish cultural life in the Diaspora? Most of us are sure that after the Holocaust there’s nothing as the Jewish life in Europe.
Finishing one fantastic year with my new educators in Budapest, I couldn’t just go back to where I was without the need for more. This new tool- a new set of eye-glasses to observe the strongly rising Jewish world with amazement and respect together with my old skills: writing, producing and editing, I bring now together to ease my addiction’s craving for new projects by going out on a journey of searching for the most basic human need to define your culture- laughter.
I start my Journey in Budapet, then Milan, Italy and Poland. I watch local Jewish comedians giving a show in their own language to their own local public about their Jewish lives. I will go on with my journey as long as you will actively support it: Invite me to see your local Jewish comedian with his show; if he/she is a non-professional performer funny friend, you could organize a meeting at home.
My goal is to put together a first remarkable mosaic repertoire demonstrating your community’s culture in its greatest form: Jewish Jokes.
This will be the base of a friendly competition. Candidates’ shows will be uploaded to the web, and the winner will get to go to Jerusalem and perform there in English.
Your main goal is to make me laugh.
My idea is to come with open mind and arms to experience your culture.
* You will be responsible to give translation in sub-titles to the videos I’ll produce.
Please write me: email@example.com; or find me on FB as Dana Int.
Looking forward to meeting you.
December 13, 2011 | 1:20 am
Posted by Klaudia Klimek
It is the second time JEWRNALISM introduces the contest for the best article. It`s going to be held in December and its aim is to add a spirit of an entertainment to our activity. The task is both simple and difficult in the same time. In the form of an article, photo or video the jewrnalists have to make the Jewish life in the Europe more interesting and closer to all the readers of the Jewish Journal and give them a lot of fun and pleasure. There is no limit to the volume or the subject is not imposed , anyway there are three categories intended to help the reporters. The articles to be evaluated are going to appear on our blog today 13/12/2011 11:00pm. We will take into account the style, the choice of the topic and emotions they awake in the readers. You can add your remarks concerning your opinions or some hints, as well as join the discussion. Your voice would decide which of the articles would be chosen and its author would receive 250$ to take part in any Jewish event in the Europe. Of course we are going to write about it. Join our reporters in discovering the European Jewish diaspora!
1) Story that I should tell about
2) Person that you should know about
3) Event on which you should be ( it was in the past, or it will be)
December 6, 2011 | 2:51 am
Posted Katarzyna Odrzywołek, Poland
“What matters is only what we do for others and everything else is unimportant”
On November 23rd Oskar Schindler`s Enamel Factory ,the branch of the Krakow Historical Museum held a special evening dedicated to Mietek Pemper. The event was conducted by prof. Aleksander Skotnicki. The meeting enjoyed a considerable interest, both from the history enthusiasts, and students of Cracow secondary and high schools. Besides, there were many distinguished guests - Mieczyslaw Pemper family from Germany, the chairman of the Jewish Community in Cracow Mr Tadeusz Jakubowicz. The curator of the Museum Beata Łabno took care of the whole event. The meeting began with a 10 minute presentaion of a television interview, that Mieczyslaw Pemper gave a few years ago. In this way he was present between us the whole evening.
Mieczyslaw Pemper was born in 1920 in a Jewish family in Podgorze. From an early age he learned to play the violin, he also had a keen interest in history and language learning. He used to spend his free time reading the books. He studied law at the Jagiellonian University and economics at the University of Economics. During the occupation twenty years old Mieczyslaw spoke fluent German, he worked as a clerk in the Jewish Council and after the liquidation of the ghetto he was sent to a camp in Plaszow, where for 540 days he worked as secretary and stenographer of the camp commandant Amon Goeth. During this period he observed the everyday realityt of the camp as well as personality and behavior of his commander (hanged for war crimes in 1946). Mieczyslaw was subjected to daily attacks of fury Goeth, who prosecuted the prisoners mentally and physically, daily sending a few of them for death. They used to say : “Whoever saw Goeth he saw the death”. From the forthcoming correspondence he learnt about threats to Jews and about the detailed plans headquarters prepared for them. In a short time he began to cooperate with Oskar Schindler, a German entrepreneur who often appeared in Plaszow. Pemper spoke about him, ” we, the Jews would never survive but for Schindler’s help. Oscar gave me the courage to resist the violence and all the time he was a support for me. “
Thanks to Schindler’s orders Plaszow camp workshops became essential to the war, which meant not only the production of military uniforms and clothing, but above all military equipment. It was due to contacts with Schindler that Pemper with the whole family got on the famous list and was taken to the factory Brünnlitz in Moravia. Thousand Jews owes their miraculously saved lives also to Pemper.
After World War II Pemper took part as a witness in the process against Goeth. In 1958 he finally left Poland and moved to Augsburg where he spent the rest of his life. Being an honorary citizen of this city till the end of his days he was giving testimony returning twenty five years in time taking an active part in meetings with young people. He was often asked questions about Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List,” in which he was a consultant. His death at the age of 91 was received all over the world and many flags were put down the masts in Augsburg as a sign of mourning. The newspapers such as New York Times and the German Franfurkter Allegemeine Zeitung wrote a lot abot him and his life.
During the meeting Mieczyslaw Pemper`s niece said : “I often met my uncle often, and he did not say much about Schindler, what`s more he was convinced that the movie will not be a success - and he was wrong! The fact that the archives after 1989 were revealed and wrote a book ” The true story of Oskar Schindler.”
Aleksander Skotnicki strongly urged all participants to remember the words often quoted by Mieczyslaw Pemper ” in vain lives who never helps anyone ...” I think that it was a real history lesson,especially for the young people which will remain in their memory for a long time .