Asylum Seekers in Israel

Originally posted on We Are For Israel:

The situation of African Asylum seekers in Israel is of great concern and is generating awful press coverage for Israel. Well over 50,000 African refugees currently seek asylum in Israel, the vast majority from Eritrea with a substantial number from Sudan. Over the past few weeks they have marched in protest about their treatment and lack of recognition as asylum seekers. The African asylum seekers are among nearly half a million residents of Israel who do not have legal status in the country, a number which includes large numbers of Chinese, Filipino, and Thai agricultural and construction workers. The vast majority of these residents without status are resident in Israel because of the possibility of financial gain.

While there have been many concerns expressed over the years about foreign workers in general and their impact on Israeli society and Israel’s economy, concerns about African residents without status have become acute…

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An Open Letter From South Sudan’s Diaspora

To Those Who Hold the Fate of a Nation in Their Hands, Pres. Salva Kiir and Riek Machar, the South Sudanese Diaspora and friends of the people of South Sudan send an urgent plea:

What should be said when a dream teeters on the verge of nightmare?

STOP!!!!

Celebrations and jubilation marked the founding of our nation. When the celebration waned, reality took over. Governing is hard work and leaders often have opposing points of view. Such opposing views are a necessary and vital part of a representative democracy.

South Sudan now finds itself in a situation in which the lives of hundreds of thousands of people are in jeopardy, thousands have died, and millions are suffering. Fighting could continue indefinitely. Full blown civil war could result in one side eventually triumphing over the other, but such a war would result in a pyrrhic victory, a triumph with a cost so extreme as to make it a loss for the victorious side. It is vital at this point to put forth every effort to end hostilities before they worsen.

The United Sudanese And South Sudanese Communities Association based in Des Moines, Iowa known by its acronym  USASSCA includes leaders from the South Sudanese, Darfurian, Nuba and other Sudanese and South Sudanese communities in the diaspora working together for the benefit of the communities in the diaspora as well as working toward the achievement of justice, equality, liberty and peace for the peoples of Sudan and South Sudan.

With hope to promote peace and unity in South Sudan, the United Sudanese And South Sudanese Communities Association USASSCA and those other organizations signed on to this letter below urge the following actions:

  • The prioritization of compromises and concessions aimed at ending the violence and restoring order over the pursuit of future retribution for actions related to this conflict after its conclusion. The urgent need is to stop the killing and prevent further damage to society in South Sudan. This applies to both sides of the conflict and to the international community.
  • The immediate cessation of offensive military action by either side.
  • The release of all political prisoners.
  • The withdrawal of hostile forces from the oil fields in Unity State to allow the resumption of oil production.
  • Withdrawal of foreign forces from the territory of South Sudan.
  • The placement of UNMISS forces to help maintain the cease fire and to report on violations.
  • Commitment to reconciliation efforts.

With concern for the people of South Sudan,

United Sudanese And South Sudanese Communities Association USASSCA

South Sudanese for the Eradication of Tribalism SSET

Help Nuba

Dr. Henry Lejukole, Chairman USASSCA, Des Moines, IA

Rabbi David Kaufman, Executive Advisor to USASSCA and Co-Chair of Help Nuba, Des Moines, IA

Gatwech Ring, Chairman SSET, Des Moines, IA

Mark Finkelstein, JCRC Des Moines, IA

Rev. Francis Chan, USASSCA and SSET, Des Moines, IA

Cory Williams, Co-Founder, Darfur and Beyond, Phoenix, AZ

Bill Andress, Sudan Advocacy Action Forum, Lexington, SC

Gabriel Stauring, Stop Genocide Now, Director, Redondo Beach, CA

Elana Kahn-Oren, JCRC Milwaukee, WI

Sharon Silber, US Director, Society for Threatened Peoples

Eileen Weiss, Co director, Jews Against Genocide

Neiki Ullah, Communications Director, New York Coalition for Sudan

Laura Limuli, Coordinator, Brooklyn Coalition for Darfur & Marginalized Sudan

Slater Armstrong, Founder/Director, Joining Our Voices

Bakheit Shata, Founder/Executive Director, Darfur Community, Omaha, NE

Mohamed Ebead, President, Darfur People’s Association of New York
Martha Boshnick, Darfur Interfaith Network, Washington DC

Faith J. H. McDonnell, Dir. Religious Liberty Program and Church Alliance for a New Sudan, The Institute on Religion and Democracy, Washington DC

Gloria Crist, Co-Founder, Essex County Coalition for Darfur, Montclair, NJ

Jerry Farjalla, USASSCA, Des Moines, IA

Harun Mudung, USASSCA and Blue Nile Community Association

The Grave Situation in South Sudan – Updated

This is the most up to date information, we have as of Jan. 6, 2014 at 8:15 am Central Time.

  1. (Jan. 6) Pres. Omar Bashir of Sudan is meeting with Pres. Salva Kiir of South Sudan in Juba today to discuss the crisis.
  2. (Jan. 5) The Government of South Sudan is fighting to retake Bor from the rebels.
  3. (Jan. 5) A General in the South Sudan Army, Abraham Jongroor Deng, was killed in an ambush.
  4. (Jan 5.) Peace negotiations are scheduled to begin today with the sole agenda item of ending hostilities. The rebels are refusing to come to the table until the leaders arrested on December 16 are freed and allowed to come to the talks.
  5. (Jan. 5) Report of fighting ongoing in Unity State.
  6. (Jan. 4-5) Reports of gunfire or even “heavy fighting” occurring at points during the evening and night in or near military barracks in the capitol, Juba, and in Yei, a town on the Ugandan border. No reliable information is available as to the nature or extent of the gunfire or fighting. There is an unconfirmed report that soldiers in Yei may have defected to the rebel side (@ougasam).
  7. (Jan. 3) The US has evacuated most embassy personnel from Juba.
  8. (Jan 3) Reports are that the South Sudan Army was ambushed on the way to Bor suffering significant casualties. Riek Machar stated that the rebels will reach Juba soon.
  9. The South Sudan Army will again attempt to retake Bor and confront the White Army there instead of Juba.
  10. If the White Army wins in Bor, Juba may be attacked soon afterwards. The distance is not far.
  11. If the White Army fails in Bor it will be because thousands have been killed.
  12. If Juba is attacked, many more thousands will be killed.
  13. Uganda will become involved much more substantially if the threat against Juba increases. Right now Uganda is largely on the sideline. Museveni will not allow Juba to fall without engaging in the fight and using the full weight of his military including air power.
  14. This conflict seems to have begun with a power struggle within the leadership of the SPLM.
  15. Whether or not there was a coup in process at the start of this conflict (Riek Machar denies it), there is now an insurrection involving several military leaders and demands for the ouster of the President under threat of violence at the hands of the military. By definition there is currently a coup attempt in process, though the scope of this event makes that term irrelevant. This is on the scale of a civil war involving thousands, if not tens of thousands, of soldiers on both sides. East African leaders will not accept a coup in South Sudan.
  16. Riek Machar has said that he only wants to run in the next elections. However, at this point, he is leading a rebel group seeking to take over the country.
  17. Several leading figures of the SPLM are currently being held under arrest including former party leader Pagan Amum.
  18. No oil will flow from South Sudan until the conflict ends and foreign workers can return to work.
  19. Unmanned wells will deteriorate rapidly and require significant reconstruction before long, resulting in a major delay, perhaps months long, for the renewal of the oil flow and costing the nation billions of dollars in revenue resulting in a certain economic crisis following even an immediate end to this crisis and a worsening one the longer it continues.
  20. The only possibility of democracy returning to South Sudan in the near future: i.e. months, not weeks, would be for the sides to agree to a cease fire soon. The longer this conflict goes on and the more people die, the worse the animosity will be afterwards and the more difficulty it will be to work together in a democratic nation.
  21. Ethnic based killings and other human rights violations have occurred.
  22. The refugee situation in South Sudan is extreme with tens of thousands of people displaced and existing refugee camps in areas of conflict.
  23. Peace talks in Ethiopia have just begun. Failure of the peace talks will have catastrophic consequences.
You may be interested in reading Dr. Eric Reeve’s extensive analyses exploring the issues: Riek Machar’s possible end game and asking whether or not South Sudan has passed the tipping point.

Important words by Dr. John Garang about Peace

Dr. John Garang de Mabior

Dr. John Garang de Mabior

This is from a speech given by Dr. John Garang on the occasion of the signing of the Nairobi Declaration, June 5, 2004. Dr. John’s words need no commentary. They are obviously applicable to the events ongoing today in both Sudan and South Sudan:

There are many – here and elsewhere – who think that peace is about job allocation, is about apportionment of positions of authority, is about lining pockets through misuse or abuse of public assets, or is about lording it over others. Those who thus think must be reading from a different script than mine.

We have more supreme goals and loftier ideals and alternatives. My script reads that peace is what people think and believe peace should hold for them. Peace to my mind and in the depth of my soul is a promise of better living to the young, the middle aged and the aged, to each individual, to the unemployed and the destitute, to the sick and the unlettered, all over Sudan. It is also a promise to the men and women of Southern Sudan, the Nuba Mountains, Southern Blue Nile, Abyei, Eastern Sudan and other marginalized areas of Sudan who suffered in dignified silence the loss of their dear ones in the war of liberation or who felt and still do feel a sense of helplessness and hopelessness, a promise that we shall never betray the cause for which those martyrs have made the ultimate sacrifice. And theirs is a cause for better and more honorable living.

It is also a promise to martyrs and to those who lost their dear ones on the other side,

promise that just and honorable peace

shall heal all the wounds

that we have inflicted

on ourselves on both sides.

South Sudan- A House Divided Against Itself

We are shocked and concerned by the violence among factions of the SPLA and tribal leaders that has taken hold in South Sudan. The beneficiary of this violence, this mistrust and resentment, is the Khartoum Regime which has spent decades fostering division. Together, the marginalized peoples of Sudan and South Sudan can overcome. Divided against one another, all are weakened. Unity brings hope, prosperity, and a bright future.

Today, USASSCA and Help Nuba which were established in Des Moines, Iowa in 2012 to combat genocide and promote this very strength through unity encourage the following:

  • An immediate cessation of violence by factions of the SPLA and tribal representatives;
  • Governmental leaders truly open their ears to listen to the concerns of those who are suffering;
  • All South Sudanese look into the eyes of others and see fellow human beings who are also living with the hope in their heart for a better future for themselves and their families
  • Recognition that Unity is the best path to justice, equality, liberty and peace; and that
  • The government must, working with all minorities in the state, strive to promote freedom, dignity, and a sense of well-being for all of its citizens.

We in America know very well the value of “E Pluribus Unum,” “Out of Many, One.” That is what it means to forge a new nation made up of smaller ones. That is the conflict faced in Sudan and South Sudan. The enemy is disunity.

It is time to unite!

South Sudan – A House Divided Against Itself

We are shocked and concerned by the violence among factions of the SPLA and tribal leaders that has taken hold in South Sudan. The beneficiary of this violence, this mistrust and resentment, is the Khartoum Regime which has spent decades fostering division. Together, the marginalized peoples of Sudan and South Sudan can overcome. Divided against one another, all are weakened. Unity brings hope, prosperity, and a bright future.

Today, USASSCA and Help Nuba which were established in Des Moines, Iowa in 2012 to combat genocide and promote this very strength through unity encourage the following:

  • An immediate cessation of violence by factions of the SPLA and tribal representatives;
  • Governmental leaders truly open their ears to listen to the concerns of those who are suffering;
  • All South Sudanese look into the eyes of others and see fellow human beings who are also living with the hope in their heart for a better future for themselves and their families
  • Recognition that Unity is the best path to justice, equality, liberty and peace; and that
  • The government must, working with all minorities in the state, strive to promote freedom, dignity, and a sense of well-being for all of its citizens.

We in America know very well the value of “E Pluribus Unum,” “Out of Many, One.” That is what it means to forge a new nation made up of smaller ones. That is the conflict faced in Sudan and South Sudan. The enemy is disunity.

It is time to unite!

Giving Thanks and Seeking Blessings

This Thanksgiving, let us give thanks for what we have in our lives and seek to bring blessings into the lives of those who lack them.

As I write this article, Sudanese Armed Forces are amid an offensive against the Sudan Revolutionary Front that has largely been a failure. We are thankful that those who defend themselves against genocide have thus far been able to withstand the offensive. For many thousands of innocent civilians, however, there is no way to withstand the indiscriminate bombing of villages. From November 21-25 alone, nearly 25,000 civilians have become displaced from the intentional bombing of civilian targets. More than 460,000 people have been displaced over the course of this year.

The Khartoum Regime continues its regular campaign of displacement and ethnic cleansing and genocide through bombing huts and fields.

A video was released on November 18 of such a bombing along with a plea from Yassir Arman for help. Here is the plea. The video (graphic and difficult to watch) follows:

This video is what happened yesterday, the 17th of November, in Buram, Nuba Mountains. To all those who continue to appease the Khartoum regime and ignore the solid facts on the ground, the Khartoum regime is targeting civilian populations in Sudan, committing war crimes, and killing the very children who need to be vaccinated. And for the families of these children, the air and ground bombardment of Khartoum is a more visible threat than polio. This is a fact that many in Africa and in international community circles are deliberately ignoring because admitting it would require them to provide civilian protection as per international humanitarian law, and for them, it is better to keep a blind eye when the government of Sudan has denied access of humanitarian assistance for civilian populations for two years and is terrorizing and killing the civilian populations at the same time. We hope this video will make them, for once, tell the truth. The silence of some circles in the international community is providing the environment for General Bashir to continue killing and targeting the civilian populations in the rural and urban areas of Sudan without being questioned by anyone, even by some of those who indicted him. Bashir is being given a blank check by some circles within the international community to kill the people of Sudan, but the Sudanese people will continue to resist him and defend their right to peace, democracy, the respect of human rights, and the right for equal citizenship. We call upon all who value human life and human dignity to wage a campaign for unhindered access for humanitarian assistance in the Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile and Darfur as well as a humanitarian cessation of hostilities that addresses the civilian humanitarian needs, as required by humanitarian international law, without conditioning them on a political agenda. Civilian populations should not be punished for political purposes or gain. The right for humanitarian aid and protection is guaranteed by international humanitarian law.
Yasir Arman
Secretary General, SPLM-N
Secretary for External Affairs, SRF
November 18, 2013