Photo by Brian Hendler/JTA
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Sudanese women and children, refugees from Darfur, visit their spouses
imprisioned at Masiyahu Prison near Tel Aviv.
WE'RE MOVING TO BIRMINGHAM
EVERYTHING MUST GO
released and then advocating for at
least some being granted permanent
asylum status in Israel.
"I am ashamed as a person and as
a Jew," Braverman told JTA, referring
to the practice of imprisoning asylum
seekers. "We of all people have to
know how to behave'
The Knesset Committee on Foreign
Workers held a Christmas Day hearing
on the issue under the chairmanship
of Ron Cohen of Meretz.
Two days later, Israeli Foreign
Minister Tzipi Livni sat across the
table from Egyptian Foreign Minister
Ahmed Aboul Gheit at the Foreign
Ministry in Jerusalem, and asked
her counterpart if Egypt would con-
sider taking back some of the refu-
gees, according to a senior Foreign
Ministry source who asked not to be
Livni wanted to know if Egypt
would consider a "hot return" policy,
which would mean an immediate
return into the Sinai of the refugees
at the time they are picked up by the
IDF on the border. She also explored
the possibility of an organized return
to Egypt of all the Sudanese refugees
who carry U.N. blue cards, meaning
they were recognized as refugees in
Cairo and are eligible for third-coun-
try resettlement from Egypt.
The Egyptian Embassy declined to
comment on the exchange.
Just as the Egyptian foreign min-
ister was returning to Cairo with the
Israeli request to help them facilitate
hot returns, Ahmed and Fatima
packed two small bags and quietly left
the Egyptian capital, beginning their
journey to cross illegally into Israel.
Three days later, when Fatima
arrived at the shelter in Israel's north,
she was greeted with media reports
that Israel was considering deporting
her and her family back to Egypt. She
quickly dictated an impassioned letter
in Arabic, which was translated into
Hebrew by a Druze linguist, and it was
sent to the Knesset lobby, which sent
a direct appeal to Defense Minister
Peretz's office has not responded to
requests for an interview.
In her letter, Fatima briefly recount-
ed her family's flight.
"I beg you not to let them send us
away from here ... I know that if they
send us back to Egypt, we'll go to
prison and perhaps never get out:' she
wrote. "We could also be sent to the
Sudanese Embassy, and from there
back to Sudan, and that will be the
end of us. We'll die like all the others
who have died there."
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Yosef Israel Abramowitz is an award-
winning journalist and founder of
socialaction.com . Abramowitz, who moved
with his family last year to Israel, blogs
daily at peoplehood.org . JTA correspon-
dent Dina Kraft in Israel contributed to
this piece. The names of the refugees
have been changed to protect from
reprisals against family members in Arab
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April 5 • 2007