Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tisha B'av in South Tel Aviv

Recent Tikkun Olam alum Tyler Fishbone was quoted extensively in this excellent piece from the Times of Israel, which tells about an event with Jews and African aslyum-seekers in south Tel Aviv for Tisha B'av. It also gives a good summary of the tensions surrounding the assylum-seeker issue in the neighborhood:

Tisha B'av is a traditional day of mourning commemorating the destruction of the First and Second Temples and other tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people in the past.

To date, an estimated 60,000 African assylum-seekers have crossed into Israel from the border with Egypt, mostly coming on foot from Eritrea and Sudan.  The majority of them live in south Tel Aviv, an underprivileged area that is struggling to cope with this influx.  The Israeli government has left the asylum-seekers in a kind of legal limbo: The government will not allow them to work legally, but international law prohibits their deportation.  The situation has created tension between the asylum-seekers, neighborhood residents, and refugee aid organizations.

Tikkun Olam participants volunteer with both veteran residents of the neighborhoods, and with asylum-seekers.  As part of the program, they learn about the complexity of this situation, that is harmful to both sides.

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