FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Every Person Has a Name

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.

More articles by:

Neve Gordon is a Leverhulme Visiting Professor in the Department of Politics and International Studies and the co-author of The Human Right to Dominate.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
April 03, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Omar Shaban
Gaza’s New Conflict: COVID-19
Rob Urie
Work, Crisis and Pandemic
John Whitlow
Slumlord Capitalism v. Global Pandemic
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Strange Things Happening Every Day
Jonathan Cook
The Bigger Picture is Hiding Behind a Virus
Paul Street
Silver Linings Amidst the Capitalist Coronavirus Crisis
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Control of Nature
Louis Proyect
COVID-19 and the “Just-in-Time” Supply Chain: Why Hospitals Ran Out of Ventilators and Grocery Stores Ran Out of Toilet Paper
Kathleen Wallace
The Highly Contagious Idea
Kenneth Good
The Apartheid Wars: Non-Accountability and Freedom for Perpetrators.
Andrew Levine
Democracy in America: Sorry, But You Can’t Get There from Here.
Ramzy Baroud
Tunisia Leads the Way: New Report Exposes Israel’s False Democracy
David Rosen
Coronavirus and the State-of-Emergency Pandemic
Matthew Stevenson
Will Trump Cancel the Election? Will the Democrats Dump Joe?
Ron Jacobs
Seattle—Anti-Capitalist Hotbed
Michael T. Klare
Avenger Planet: Is the COVID-19 Pandemic Mother Nature’s Response to Human Transgression?
Jack Rasmus
COVID-19 and the Forgotten Working Class
Werner Lange
The Madness of More Nukes and Less Rights in Pandemic Times
J.P. Linstroth
Why a Race is Not a Virus and a Virus is Not a Race
John Feffer
We Need a Coronavirus Truce
Thomas S. Harrington
“New Corona Cases”: the Ultimate Floating Signifier
Victor Grossman
Corona and What Then?
Katie Fite
Permanent Pandemic on Public Lands: Welfare Sheep Ranchers and Their Enablers Hold the West’s Bighorns Hostage
Patrick Bond
Covid-19 Attacks the Down-and-Out in Ultra-Unequal South Africa
Eve Ottenberg
Capitalism vs. Humanity
Nicky Reid
Fear and Loathing in Coronaville Volume 2: Panic On the Streets of Tehran
Jonas Ecke
Would Dying for the Economy Help Anybody?
Jeff Mackler
Capitalism is the Virus!
Andrew Moss
Incarceration, Detention, and Covid-19
Farzana Versey
Prayers, Piffle and Privation in the Time of Pandemic
Will Solomon
In the New Dystopia
Dean Baker
The Relative Generosity of the Economic Rescue Package: Boeing vs. Public Broadcasting
Dr. Leo Lopez, III
We Need a Lot More Transparency From the CDC
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Reflections on a Glass of Homemade Cider
Rashid Nuri
Homegrown Crisis Response: Who Grows Your Food?
Mark Luskus
Worst Case Scenario: Healthcare Workers Need Masks, ASAP
Volker Franke
The Virus That May Bring us Together
Mitchell Zimmerman
A Q & A on the GOP’s Call for Elder Sacrifice
Olfat al-Kurd
COVID-19 Could Be Catastrophic for Us: Notes From Gaza
Eileen Appelbaum - Roesmary Batt
Hospital Bailouts Begin…for Those Owned by Private Equity Firms
Nabri Ginwa
Carcinogens
Jill Richardson
Efficiency vs. Resilience
Lee Ballinger
Eddie Van Halen and the Future of Humanity
David Yearsley
Beset by Bach
Robert Koehler
Developing a Vaccine Against War
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail