Every Person Has a Name

by NEVE GORDON

Ten days ago some 200 asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea marched to Jerusalem to protest against their mistreatment by the Israeli government. They had left a new ‘open’ detention facility in the Negev desert, where they are obliged to spend the night and attend three role calls during the day. They walked for about six hours to the nearest city, Beer-Sheva, my hometown. After spending the night at the bus station, they marched on to Nachshon, a kibbutz that had agreed to put them up for the night. The following day, they continued to the Knesset by bus.

There they demonstrated against an amendment to Israel’s Prevention of Infiltration Law, which allows the state to detain migrants who enter the country illegally for up to a year without trial, and to hold those already in Israel in the open detention facility indefinitely. Almost all the protesters had already spent more than a year in an Israeli prison before being moved to the open detention facility, and most if not all of them had submitted a request for asylum more than a year earlier, but had not received a response from the state. Several hours after the protesters arrived in Jerusalem, officers from the immigration police put them back on buses, some by force, while a clerk in the Ministry of Interior issued an order to imprison them for three months.

This imprisonment order, according to the Prevention of Infiltration Law, has to be reviewed by an administrative tribunal and approved within seven days. But on 23 December, the judge ruled that the tribunal did not have the authority to approve the order, which meant that the state had to release the asylum seekers and transfer them back to the open detention facility.

Yet, as the bells struck midnight on Christmas Eve, the state submitted an appeal to a higher court, asking it to verify the imprisonment order. Asaf Weitzen, a lawyer who works for the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants and represents 123 of the asylum seekers, said he was disturbed by the fact that in the appeal the asylum seekers have no names, only numbers.

image001

The judge on duty scheduled a session for 9 o’clock the following morning: the process usually takes a few weeks. Weitzen asked the judge, Sara Dovrat, to bring the defendants to court in order to guarantee the basic right of the accused to hear the charges being brought against them. Dovrat accepted the state’s position that it was too complicated.

Dovrat went on to rule that the court’s authority to approve the imprisonment of the Sudanese and Eritreans needs to be examined in depth. In the meantime, the unnamed and absent asylum seekers would remain in prison. The judge overlooked an important lesson taught in every Israeli primary school: that the moral imperative that every person has a name is categorical and therefore universal.

Neve Gordon is the author of Israel’s Occupation. He can be reached through his website.

First published in London Review of Books.

Neve Gordon is the co-author (with Nicola Perugini) of the newly released The Human Right to Dominate

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Geoffrey McDonald
Obama’s Overtime Tweak: What is the Fair Price of a Missed Life?
Brian Cloughley
Hypocrisy, Obama-Style
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Ron Jacobs
Spying on Black Writers: the FB Eye Blues
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
Binoy Kampmark
The TPP Trade Deal: of Sovereignty and Secrecy
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Shamus Cooke
Why Obama’s “Safe Zone” in Syria Will Inflame the War Zone
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Tracey Harris
Living Tiny: a Richer and More Sustainable Future
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
A Day of Tears: Report from the “sHell No!” Action in Portland
Tom Clifford
Guns of August: the Gulf War Revisited
Renee Lovelace
I Dream of Ghana
Colin Todhunter
GMOs: Where Does Science Begin and Lobbying End?
Ben Debney
Modern Newspeak Dictionary, pt. II
Christopher Brauchli
Guns Don’t Kill People, Immigrants Do and Other Congressional Words of Wisdom
S. Mubashir Noor
India’s UNSC Endgame
Ellen Taylor
The Voyage of the Golden Rule
Norman Ball
Ten Questions for Lee Drutman: Author of “The Business of America is Lobbying”
Franklin Lamb
Return to Ma’loula, Syria
Masturah Alatas
Six Critics in Search of an Author
Mark Hand
Cinéma Engagé: Filmmaker Chronicles Texas Fracking Wars
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Patrick Hiller
The Icebreaker and #ShellNo: How Activists Determine the Course
Charles Larson
Tango Bends Its Gender: Carolina De Robertis’s “The Gods of Tango”