Marc Schulman


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January 5, 2014 African Refugees Demonstrate- Kerry Taking up Residence

Today there was a very large demonstration by African refugees in Tel Aviv. The protest was organized to demand that the refugee's requests for asylum be reviewed. There are currently over 50,000 African refugees in Israel. The government recently passed a law allowing these refugees to be placed in a facility for up to a year. That law was passed after the Supreme Court threw out an earlier such law. In this case, unfortunately, it is our government that is violating international law. Until this past year the government has not even been willing to process their asylum requests. Since the government began reviewing the requests, it has accepted 1,200 applications, and begun the review of an additional 300 applications-- of which only 14 have been approved. It should be noted that since the fence has been built, the flow of refugees has ended completely.

This morning I heard the head of the department responsible for dealing with people here illegally interviewed. After he finished detailing how humanely we are treating the Africans, he was asked whether he himself would be willing to change places and live in the detention camp in their place. His answer: "No, I am an Israeli, and therefore, I do not have to."

Secretary of State Kerry is back in Israel, I think. Honestly, it is getting tough keeping track of his visits. He was here last Friday. Kerry was in Ramallah yesterday. He flew to Jordan and Saudi Arabia today, and he will reportedly be back in Jerusalem tonight. He seems to be making an almost Herculean effort to get us and the Palestinian to reach an agreement. I am one who favors such an agreement. However, there is something surreal about the American Secretary of State shuttling back and forth almost setting up home here, while we see images of the Al Qaida taking over more and more of Iraq, fighting among the less extreme elements of the Sunni opposition in Syria, killing people in the middle of town square for not being "proper Muslims", and whipping people publically for making noise during pray time. I believe we need to permanently separate ourselves from the Palestinians, but is this the time? I guess if there is a chance to reach an agreement, anytime is a good time. However, in a Middle East that is in such turmoil, it is hard to know what events of the next few months– not to mention years– will bring.


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