Using African migrants as an excuse to bash Israel

the entire Facebook "discussion"
the entire Facebook “discussion”

I rarely get involved in discussions I see on Facebook, other than liking a post or signing a petition. Unfortunately, what I saw today had me acting differently.

A friend up in Philadelphia saw an article that was more than two years old and she wasn’t happy. In fact, she linked to it and simply wrote she was “outraged” that Israel injected some Ethiopian immigrants with a birth control drug. I totally get the outrage. It’s very bad.

But it wasn’t the whole story. Bringing Ethiopian Jews to Israel (or trying to) has been going on for many decades, even before famine and disease in the 1980’s. I don’t know how or why my friend found the old story this morning, but a friend of hers commented that she shouldn’t be outraged because Israel has done even worse! And this friend apparently works for the NBC TV station in Philadelphia! (I figured that out because we have 23 mutual friends, although that number is probably dropping as you read.)

the article in question
the article in question

This is when I got offended, and it wasn’t over the person’s grammar! (Click any images in this blog to enlarge.)

This is the story. It involved about 30 women and lasted for about 3 months. It ended because Israelis were furious.

I don’t blame Atlanta Blackstar for jumping in and publishing the story at the time it was written. I can’t even be disappointed if they rushed to put out the worst of it. That’s what news seems to be about these days. Hopefully they updated the story as more information came out. That would be the responsible thing to do.

comments to the article
comments to the article

However, people looking at an article that’s 25 months old can and should look for additional sources to put the story into perspective. That would be the responsible and intelligent thing to do, especially before sharing the article with others! Like taking down what you posted on Facebook when it turns out to be wrong, so you don’t mislead others.

(And for the knowledgeable people here, our Facebook “discussion” didn’t get into the Jewish vs. non-Jewish Africans, and I won’t here, either.)

The comments from Atlanta Blackstar’s readers under its story is also telling. Apparently, they’re very quick to judge.

Israel has a lot of problems. Anybody researching the plight of African migrants there is going to get a back-and-forth from the government, with no real answers. That’s its prerogative. But the government did not send them all back. Perhaps Europe should let them in. Europe has let in Muslim Arabs for quite awhile, and look what has happened since. Perhaps these Ethiopian migrants should have been let into Europe instead of Israel.

Google Maps, from Ethiopia (& its neighbors) to Israel
Google Maps, from Ethiopia (& its neighbors) to Israel

Look at the countries they passed through to get to where they are. Did they consider stopping along the way? Of course not! Would they have been allowed to stay in those places? Who knows? Did Israel do anything to cause the problem? Certainly not in their African homelands. All the troubles back in Africa are to blame. What are people around the world doing to make life better at home, other than complaining about Israel to a Web site thousands of miles away? Simply telling them to stay put, as my friend’s friend said, seems like a copout of an answer. (And I understand his need to find someone to blame. Jews have been an easy target for thousands of years.)

The eagerness of some people to jump to attack Israel reeks of anti-Semitism, and any comparison to the Holocaust is sickening. Jews in 1930’s and 1940’s Europe were being discriminated against, taken away, and murdered, and would have gone anywhere as an alternative. They had no choice. The world was silent. Nobody would take them. At least these migrants have a choice, even if it’s far from perfect. How dare people thousands of miles away disagree with it without offering an alternative!

Israel can’t be everything to everybody in the world. No country could accept that challenge. There are problems everywhere. This is not the world’s foremost problem that antagonists thousands of miles away should inject themselves into. The same folks at the United Nations accuse Israel of all the world’s problems, yet ignore heinous acts everywhere else.

For example, in just the past few days:
— jihadists in Libya posting a video showing the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians
— a deadly attack at a café and synagogue in Denmark
— hundreds of desecrated Jewish graves in France
— all the homelessness and lack of adequate healthcare in our own country.

I suggest my friend’s friend fight for a fair and just immigration policy in our own country. He’d have more influence over here than in any country thousands of miles away. He should get to work right away.

I’ve tried to do my part. In that Facebook “discussion,” I didn’t mention how much money I’ve given to The North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry (NACOEJ) over the years to get Ethiopian Jews out. Or how my brother at his bar mitzvah and sister at her bat mitzvah “twinned” with Ethiopian Jews to get their stories out. Or how this past summer, I visited with Physicians for Human Rights in Tel Aviv and saw how the group gives medical care and other help to refugees. My group also donated food to non-Jewish African immigrants living in a park near Tel Aviv’s old Central Bus Terminal.

The world is often an awful place but this isn’t the time or place to have a kneejerk reaction, or try to cause somebody else to hate.

In the words of Rodney King, can’t we all just get along?

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