Two astronomers. Separated by only 22 degrees, 58 minutes of latitude, 33 degrees, 29 minutes of longitude, yet seemingly worlds apart. Their common goal: figure out the very nature of the Universe and its womenfolk.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Darfurian Refugees

Its odd seeing thin, black, subsaharan africans in Tel Aviv. They are simply out of place in a country dominated by european looking faces. Despite feeling a world a way, the civil war in Darfur has direct implications for this country. Darfurian refugees sneak into egypt and then find their way across the sinai to the negev dessert, where they attempt to enter israel. The egyptian border guards - under pressure to protect the border from militants smuggling bombs, weapons, etc - have already been accused of shooting and killing sudanese refugees trying to sneak into israel. Once in Israel, the refugees need to lay low for 24 hours. If apprehended within the first 24 hours, international law dictates that they can be sent back to their point of entry (ie egypt). IF they can avoid being apprehended for the first 24 hour period they will stay in israel. The "lucky" ones will be arrested and put in jail. And there they will languish ad infinitum. They cannot be repartriated or deported because they have no passports. They can not obtain new passports because Sudan doesn't recognize israel hence they have no consular protection. Their home country which sees them as triators seeking refuge in an enemy state, says "good ridence". Israel of course, plays this game as well: despite having committed no crime, and despite fleeing a genocide, and despite being no threat in any way to the country and despite simply needing basic humanitarian aid, israel locks them up. And those are the lucky ones. The unlucky darfurian refugees are coralled by the police and summarily dumped somewhere: like Be'ersheba, or some outskrits of jerusalem. They cannot eat, they cannot work, thay have inadequate shelter. Some grass roots organizations have sprouted up in a bid to house and employ the refugees in kibutzim, but its all too little.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Monthly entry

Part of my once-a-month blog recalcitrance can be squarely laid on my inability (due to lack of motivation) to post the photos of my trip to Jordan. I have been telling myself that my next blog would be this beautiful photo album showing pictures of lnglost land: petra, camels, sheesha, and desert. Since I have essentially failed in my duties to provide a descriptive account of life in the holy land for the past month, Ill try and summarize.

Politically speaking the notable quiet with respect to the palestinians should not be interpretted as lull in political activity at home. For one, Israel now has a new president: the vetran labor leader turned kadima deputy PM Shimon Peres. His resume includes being PM twice (once in the 90s once in the 80s), and countless posts as Defense Ministser and leader of the opposition. But his tenure wasnt greeted with the fanfare it deserved, mostly due to the bad taste israelis have in their mouth from Katsav's, Peres' predesessor, resignation. As mentioned here a few posts earlier, Katsav resigned amidst acusations of rape. Recently the Attorney General (who had been, up untill now, respected as an Eliot Ness character) struck a plea bargain with him wherein the rape charges were dropped and he admitted to harassment (turning the image of the AG into something of a quisling). Womens groups and the israeli street were up in arms over the fact that a rapist would walk free, without even spending a day in prison.