Sunday 4 July 2010

Nyala.. Jaffa..Tel Aviv!

The Jerusalem Post published an article 02.07.10 describing the happy unfolding of the life-stories of 3 Darfur refugees in Tel Aviv. Three industrious young men pooled their savings and opened a humous restaurant that enjoys astonishing success. To the standard Israeli humous dish they contributed a Sudanese twist, a shot of ‘ful’, chopped tomatoes, and a wholesome boiled egg. The Jerusalem Post made a point of demonstrating the gratitude of the three towards Israel with quotes like: “I’m proud of Israel because it treated me like their child, like their son. They protected me, they helped me, treated me very nice, so I can never forget this”.  I wonder how many Darfur IDPs can say the same about their own ‘elected’ government, DPA signatories included.

In the deafening rush towards the referendum on the future of Southern Sudan Darfur’s sorrows have sunk down on the list of Sudan bothers. Of course, Doha is on and running; and an imminent deadline for conclusion of the process and tabling of an agreement has been announced by the Qatari mediation. However, what agreement and with whom? The proposed deal brings in a new partner on the Darfur agreements market, but does not promise more. The Liberation and Justice Movement, lacking in imagination to the degree that it had to borrow its name from the two veteran Darfuri movements, Sudan Liberation Movement/Army and the Justice and Equality Movement, and in itself largely a conglomeration of break-off factions from the two, 10 factions to be precise, is under great pressure from mediators and sponsors to flatter the global diplomacy on Darfur with an apparent success story. On the ground, the confrontation between rebels and government forces has largely degenerated into an anarchic situation where only particular inter-communal initiatives can deliver stability. The incapacity of the state to act as a neutral arbitrator and enforcer of the law is ever more striking not only in confrontations between Fur and Arabs but significantly in the spirals of violence between the major Arab pastoral groups of South and West Darfur. Rather, regular armed elements, Border Guards for instance, belonging to competing groups have been themselves involved in combat as well as arming and training of their kin. The recent peace process between Rizeigat and Misseriya involved top state officials, as high up as Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, as well as UNAMID representatives.

In their Tel Aviv restaurant the 3 Darfuri refugees employ an Israeli Arab woman from Jaffa who expressed her delight at what she described as a ‘United Colour of Benetton’ experience. Multi-cultural rhapsody notwithstanding the Jerusalem Post made it clear at the end of the humous article that the three Darfuris are not here to stay: “I dream that someday the fighting will be over and I will be able to go back there, because it is my country, my family, my culture. And someday, may be Israelis can come to Darfur too”, said Hassan from Bulbul in the vicinity of Niera [sic]. 

1 comment:

  1. Obviously, the treatment of IDPs in Sudan is abhorrent, but the Jpost "good feel" story doesn't reflect reality of most Sudanese refugees in Israel. As an Israeli I can tell you that racism toward the refugees is quite common, and the treatment they receive by the state isn't much better. Refugees are kept in holding facilities for months and sometimes not even given the chance to meet UNHCR representatives.


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This work by Magdi El Gizouli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.