The Home of Atilla

“Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

How can a Jewish state reject refugees and refuse to acknowledge a genocide?

Posted by Atilla89 on August 31, 2007

An interesting post on Rosner’s Blog at the Haaretz Newspaper. I personally believe that the Armenian Genocide should be recognised by every country regardless of politics. However I do understand why Israel can’t take any more Sudanese refugees; having said this, what are the other Arab and African nations doing about absorbing these refugees? Nothing! Grrr….

Last week, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., wrote a letter to Israel’s ambassador in Washington, Sallai Meridor. “Israel has returned 48 Sudanese people to Egypt and intends to refuse entrance to refugees from the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan,” reported the congressman. “I am writing today to express my disappointment? [I]f any country should understand the special needs of those affected by the genocide in Darfur, it should be Israel.”

He was not alone expressing discomfort with Israel’s decision. Dozens of Israeli legislators from across the political spectrum made the same argument. Human rights organizations blasted the deportations. American Jewish organizations expressed disappointment.

But Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reached an agreement with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak under which any Sudanese citizens illegally crossing into Israel through the Sinai Peninsula will be sent back to Egypt. Ten days ago, Israel deported 50 such infiltrators?and Olmert ordered that Darfurians arriving at the gates should be rejected. Only 500 were lucky enough to be absorbed by the country indefinitely. That number, say Israeli officials, is very high considering how small the country is?it is the equivalent of 20,000 refugees getting into America (The United States accepted fewer than 2,000 refugees from all of Sudan last year).

It was a calculated decision, but not a pretty one. Accepting the first wave of Darfurians proved problematic, tempting more Africans to attempt entry. If he wants to educate himself about such problems, Emanuel can call his former boss Bill Clinton. After CIA agents visited him before he was even inaugurated, Clinton had to roll back his criticism of the first Bush administration’s strict policy against accepting refugees from Haiti. The agents presented him with satellite photos that showed tens of thousands of Haitians hacking down houses and trees in anticipation of the new, less restrictive administration.

The memory of the Holocaust and the Jewish refugees who wanted to flee Europe was a handy weapon for those who criticized Israel for its cold-hearted decision. It became useful again last week, in an American-based controversy involving the Anti-Defamation League, an American Jewish organization that faces mounting criticism from both Jews and non-Jews over its refusal to acknowledge the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Turks in World War I.

This story is also an old one, but it never dies. Turkey, an important international and regional player, refuses to make peace with its murderous past and threatens to sever its ties with any country that contradicts its version of events. Israel?among many others?chose a Turkish connection over truth and justice to history. The ADL did what it thought was the responsible thing: defending Israel and Jews in Turkey from the possible consequences of acknowledging the genocide. But criticism threatened to tear the organization apart. Eventually, after constant pressure from outside the organization and also from its own activists, this led to a change of course by ADL leader Abraham Foxman. Since advocating against anti-Semitism and hate is the organization’s core issue, its position seemed highly hypocritical.

“The Jewish people will always bear the burden of the memory of the Holocaust and the comfort of redemption,” said then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres in 1996, while honoring German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. But last week, Peres took a morally indefensible stand on the Armenian genocide. Israel has not changed its position on the killing of Armenians, President Peres assured the Turkish prime minister. Ben Gurion’s most brilliant student, the last one standing, reiterated the always controversial Israeli position: As it has always done, it chooses Realpolitik over moral purity. Call it an action-oriented morality.

You can read the rest through the link at the top.

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