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The Cross of Bethlehem

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Netanyahu Strikes Africans

PM office acknowledges automatically rejecting requests by African refugees to convert to Judaism

 

 

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June 2012 turned out to be a disastrous month for the roughly 10,000 African refugees living in Israel, mainly in Tel Aviv. This was not because of the renewal of the violence they had experienced in April and May by Jewish protesters and attackers, but because in the same week, two publications linked that violence to the Zionist government, holding the agonizing promise that more violence should be expected. Rabbi Yisrael Rozen—a judge at the Judaism Conversion Office in the Chief Rabbinate of Israel—published last Friday one of the most racist texts ever published in Hebrew. The text included a Nazi-style tirade against Africans in Israel; he even accused these hard-working, honest people, of stealing his food, and demanded that they work without receiving salary before being deported. Yet, no charges were placed by this racist rabbi against these apparent criminals. Meanwhile, Benjamin Netanyahu admitted through an "unnamed source in his office"—a Hebrew-media euphemism for the head of an institution—that Israel's Prime Minister's Bureau automatically rejects requests by African refugees to convert to Judaism. "Of course, all the requests were rejected," the unnamed source told the Hebrew press, while stuffing yet another tasty tartlet in his massive mouth. The "of course" part of his elaborate claim revealed the hidden intents of his racist policies. The involvement of the highest political authority in the country on issues of religious conversion may seem odd, but it was the result of the affair being conducted by a committee formed by people from various ministries, and due to the sensitivities involved. In Israel, Jewishness is the backdoor to citizenship.

Anti-African protests in Tel Aviv

Anti-African protests in Tel Aviv

 

Their Desperate Yearn to be Jews

 

One must admit that the scene is a bit bizarre. People who admittedly don't have any links to Judaism arrive in Israel after a perilous trip across the Sinai and Negev deserts; reports on the horrors faced by them along the way should be enough to grant recognition of the survivors as refugees upon arrival. Once they are in what they had perceived before their arrival as a haven, most of them settle in southern Tel Aviv and work in a variety of badly-paid service jobs. They can't be blamed for their views; after all mainstream media portrays a very wrong image of Israel. In The Cross of Bethlehem, I commented on their church-going on Sundays, an unusual sight in this secular city. They have successfully replaced the Palestinians, who are not welcome anymore in Tel Aviv. Few of them are properly recognized as refugees by the State of Israel, those who aren't recognized face deportation back to war and death at any moment. Can that explain their yearning to return to God and seek redemption? Maybe, but Israel doesn't offer redemption. The answer is not there, but in the Law of Return.

Ruth and Naomi

Ruth and Naomi
Ruth 1:16 And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God

It is not easy to be a foreign worker or a refugee in Israel; nobody helps them. Israel has developed over the years a public image that doesn't allow the publication of these cases. Yet, reality is different. No better way of showing this than through the cases of Beta Israel and the Falash Mura, two groups of Ethiopian citizens seeking Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return. The Law of Return gives automatic and immediate citizenship to every Jew arriving in Israel. A Jew is defined in that law as a person born Jewish (with a Jewish mother or maternal grandmother), with a Jewish ancestry (with a Jewish father or grandfather) or a convert to Orthodox Judaism (Reform and Conservative converts are recognized only if the rites were performed outside the State of Israel, other groups are rejected). The basis for this racist law is what is known as "Jus Sanguinis" in Latin, namely "Blood Law." In ancient times, it was used to attribute citizenship on the basis of family relations. Despite the almost certain invalidity of their claim, Beta Israel were recognized as Jews by one prominent rabbi and thus granted citizenship. In contrast to the discrepancies regarding their Jewishness, there is no doubt about the link between Beta Israel and the Falash Mura. Both groups acknowledge that Falash Mura were people from Beta Israel who accepted Christianity in various waves of conversion since the 15th century. In comparison to the roughly 130,000 Beta Israel living now in Israel, the number of the Falash Mura is small; apparently fewer than 10,000 still live in Ethiopia; even fewer are in Israel. They are not recognized as Jews by the State of Israel, and thus are not allowed to reach the state under the clauses of the Law of Return applied to their brothers from Beta Israel. Due to their Christianity, Falash Mura reaching Israel independently are treated as illegitimate foreign workers and deported if caught. In that regard, they have the same status as the recently attacked South Sudanese and Eritrean workers.

Facing deportation, they know that their best chance of avoiding it is converting to Judaism and then getting citizenship under the Law of Return. This is problematic not only for these refugees. Issues regarding the conversion to Judaism of Russian and Ethiopian IDF soldiers are common; they usually end in tragedies (see The Last Law—Giur in the IDF). This methodical discrimination has been accepted by the international community. What would be the reaction if Germany were to legislate a law allowing the immigration of Christian Turks to Germany, but denying the immigration of Muslim Turks to its territory? Can Arizona forbid marriages between Mexicans and "Anglos?" Why is Israel allowed to perpetrate parallel crimes?

South Sudanese Woman deported from Israel on June 13

South Sudanese Woman deported from Israel on June 13, 2012

 

United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379

 

On November 10, 1975, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 3379, which ends with an undying truth: "…which most severely condemned Zionism as a threat to world peace and security and called upon all countries to oppose this racist and imperialist ideology, Determines that Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination." Another important text appearing in this resolution is: "international co-operation and peace require the achievement of national liberation and independence, the elimination of colonialism and neo-colonialism, foreign occupation, Zionism, apartheid and racial discrimination in all its forms,…" Resolution 3379 was adopted with an overwhelming vote of a vote of 72 to 35.

Years later, Israelis kept complaining day and night about the entire world being against them while citing Resolution 3379. On October 30, 1991, the Madrid Conference was hosted by the government of Spain and co-sponsored by the USA and the USSR. In its three days, a peace process involving Israel and the Palestinians, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan was initiated. In order to attend the event, Israel blackmailed the international community by imposing an ultimatum: nullify Resolution 3379 or there will be no Madrid Conference. Ever compliant, the USA began a massive international campaign—at the expense of American taxpayers—on behalf of Israel. On December 16, 1991, the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 46/86 passed with a vote of 111 to 25, with 13 abstentions. It is the only revoking resolution in the history of the UN. It revoked Resolution 3379, despite nothing having changed on the ground.

In 2012, we see how Israeli racism keeps expanding. That is natural, once you begin discriminating among humans, you can't stop. Nobody is good enough. Nowadays, the most prominent victims are South Sudanese and Eritrean refugees. Nothing will change as long as the Law of Return and related laws (for example, the Jewish Fatherland Law) are accepted by the international community. The latter refuses even mild steps like imposing sanctions on this racist entity, as has been done in the past with South Africa. The UN General Assembly must revalidate Resolution 3379.

 

Thy God my God

 

I often comment on the Israeli and Jewish admirable capability to misinterpret the Bible and God's message. The affair reported in this article is related to what in Hebrew is known as "ger toshav" ("foreign resident" in Hebrew). Invariably, the Bible instructs us to treat foreigners well, expecting the people to have learned the lesson of slavery while in Egypt. There is no darkness without light; neither goodness without evil. The greatest text ever on goodness, love, Faith, God and all that is noble and worthy must expose the opposites in order to explain and teach. It is methodical, showing first evil through most of the Old Testament and then the redemptive goodness of God in the New Testament. Judaism got stuck in the bad part; moreover, it invariably cherishes the worst parts. What Went Wrong?

The Book of Ruth is one of the oldest books in the Bible. The book is short; it can be easily enjoyed while sipping one large coffee. It is so old that some of the cultural practices described there—marriage and contracts—seem awkward. Yet, this is of no importance, nothing really changes. Love is Love. Justice is Godly Justice, regardless what flawed human laws claim. Even without appreciating the subtle humor used for names—often impossible to translate without lengthy explanations—the book appears as a love story promoting clear and eternal values, with which we can identify with no further explanations, even if the silos of Boaz are not bombed by a Hollywood hero. For the sake of younger readers let me emphasize these are not silos of the nuclear type. Love and Faith are the book's central topic.

Ruth is a key figure in the Old Testament. She was a Moabite woman who married an Israelite. Following his death in Moab (on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea), she decided to return with Naomi—her mother in law—to Bethlehem. When Naomi tells her to go back to her home—after all she has no more sons to offer as husbands—the latter says: "Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God" (Ruth 1:16). With this answer, Ruth became the most famous "giyoret" ever. The masculine form of this word—"ger"—means "stranger" but is used by Pharisaic-rabbinical Jews for converts to Judaism. The process is thus known as "giur," which ironically means "becoming a stranger." This is a subtle reminder that Pharisees never truly accept converts; as a matter of fact, converts cannot marry orthodox Jews.

Once in Bethlehem, a love story between Boaz and Ruth develops. Moabite and Hebrew are closely related, the parallel Hebrew name is R'eut; both mean "friendship," the formal Hebrew word for "wife"—r'eaya—is also related to the names. The acceptance of Ruth—the foreigner—is so complete, that the couple becomes the ancestors of King David and Jesus. God's message is clear to all. Being good is not about ethnical background or genes; it is about faith and love; "they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham," Galatians 3:9. This is clear to all, except for the veiled eyes of those claiming to be the direct descendants of our biblical heroes.

Israel has created a reality which is so horrible that religion and God have become cynical tools used by the state, and are used to manipulate the lives of citizens and foreigners alike. It is the antithesis of Biblical Israel; the signature mark of evil. Netanyahu and peers, for as long as you do not understand this simple message of love towards the other—love to yourself is worthless—you will continue to be nothing but an internationally loathed pariah, even if for political reasons Kenyan presidents living in a white house are polite to you. Please show mercifulness to these refugees, they mean no harm to you. After all, your ancestors were slaves in Egypt, weren't they?

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