The Shmooze

Israeli Celebs Support Sudanese Asylum Seekers

By Nathan Jeffay

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It’s celebrities versus politicians in Israel.

If the latest petition to be signed in Israel ever went up for auction, it would sell for millions of shekels, because it bears the names of some of the most famous Israelis alive: writers Amos Oz, David Grossman and A.B. Yehoshua, singer Yehudit Ravitz and actors Hanna Maron and Moshe Ivgy.

The cause: Now that South Sudan is independent, Israel’s government takes the view that there’s no reason not to send South Sudanese asylum seekers who are in Israel back home. It plans to do so soon.

The celebrities mentioned above and around 400 others have written: “We appeal to the State … to avoid deporting 700 immigrants from South Sudan, an act that would expose them to a raging war, hunger and disease,” the petitioners wrote. They claimed that the planned repatriation sits uncomfortably with the fact that many Israelis were once refugees.

The predicament of asylum seekers in Israel is a heart-wrenching one, but one that is normally overlooked by the average Israeli, given that the country has such a fast-moving news agenda full of issues that have a more immediate impact of their everyday life. But if some of the best-known household names become spokespeople for the issue, as they are, this could change quickly.


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