Muhammad, who escaped Sudan genocide and found shelter in Israel, to travel to Nazi concentration camp with his classmates. ‘Studying about your Holocaust helps me connect to my own holocaust,’ he tells his friends
Published: 07.03.10, 08:57 / Israel Jewish Scene
Kibbutz Eilot’s 11th graders are scheduled to visit Auschwitz this month. They will stand at the former Nazi concentration camp and try to imagine the last moments of the Jewish victims, who saw their loved ones being murdered before their eyes. Unfortunately, one of the journey’s participants will not have to use his imagination.
Muhammad and his mother escaped from Darfur, a western Sudan region which has become one of the world’s most shocking locations of a humanitarian disaster. Some 700,000 people have been slaughtered there since 2003 by militia groups and rebels, and millions have escaped and turned into refugees.
Four years ago, the militia raided Muhammad’s village and murdered his father and brother right in front of him. He and his mother managed to flee. After a long journey, they arrived in Israel and found shelter in the southern Kibbutz Eilot.
The Muslim teen studies in the district school in a special program for new immigrants. He is already fluent in Hebrew and has integrated well among his fellow students.
Next month, his class is scheduled to embark on an educational trip in death and concentration camps in Poland. Muhammad has expressed his desire to join the trip and has even told his friends that he views the Jewish Holocaust studies as a way to connect to his personal holocaust – after seeing his family members murdered.
The problem is that Muhammad cannot leave the country, as he has no passports. As refugees recognized by the State of Israel, he and his mother received Israeli identity cards and a status of temporary residents, in accordance with a government decision.
As part of this framework, they receive all the social, medical and other rights that each Israeli resident is entitled to, as oppose to infiltrators and migrants working in Israel illegally.
Muhammad’s school and Kibbutz Eilot sent emotional letters to the Population and Immigration Authority in Beersheba, asking that he receive a laissez-passer or passport which would allow him to join the journey with his classmates.
“A trip to Poland would be extremely important for this youth from an educational and ideological point of view, especially in light of his personal past as a Darfur refugee and in light of the demonstrations of extremism and racism in Israel and across the world,” the school said in its request.
Amnon Ben-Ami, director-general of the Population, Immigration and Border Authority, was touched by the letter and decided to approve the request. “When it comes to a person officially recognized as a refugee, we grant him all the rights he deserves,” Ben-Ami said.
“The problem begins with a person who is not a refugee and comes here for work purposes, taking advantage of the State’s sensitivity over the refugee issue. I was very moved by this case and instructed the office to issue the boy a laissez-passer so that he can take part in the trip to Poland and return to Israel.”