FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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.

August 15, 2018
Jason Hirthler
Russiagate and the Men with Glass Eyes
Paul Street
Omaorosa’s Book Tour vs. Forty More Murdered Yemeni Children
Charles Pierson
Is Bankruptcy in Your Future?
George Ochenski
The Absolute Futility of ‘Global Dominance’ in the 21st Century
Gary Olson
Are We Governed by Secondary Psychopaths
Fred Guerin
On News, Fake News and Donald Trump
Arshad Khan
A Rip Van Winkle President Sleeps as Proof of Man’s Hand in Climate Change Multiplies and Disasters Strike
P. Sainath
The Unsung Heroism of Hausabai
Georgina Downs
Landmark Glyphosate Cancer Ruling Sets a Precedent for All Those Affected by Crop Poisons
Rev. William Alberts
United We Kneel, Divided We Stand
Chris Gilbert
How to Reactivate Chavismo
Kim C. Domenico
A Coffeehouse Hallucination: The Anti-American Dream Dream
August 14, 2018
Daniel Falcone
On Taking on the Mobilized Capitalist Class in Elections: an Interview With Noam Chomsky
Karl Grossman
Turning Space Into a War Zone
Jonah Raskin
“Fuck Wine Grapes, Fuck Wines”: the Coming Napafication of the World
Manuel García, Jr.
Climate Change Bites Big Business
Alberto Zuppi - Cesar Chelala
Argentina at a Crossroads
Chris Wright
On “Bullshit Jobs”
Rosita A. Sweetman
Dear Jorge: On the Pope’s Visit to Ireland
Binoy Kampmark
Authoritarian Revocations: Australia, Terrorism and Citizenship
Sara Johnson
The Incredible Benefits of Sagebrush and Juniper in the West
Martin Billheimer
White & Red Aunts, Capital Gains and Anarchy
Walter Clemens
Enough Already! Donald J. Trump Resignation Speech
August 13, 2018
Michael Colby
Migrant Injustice: Ben & Jerry’s Farmworker Exploitation
John Davis
California: Waging War on Wildfire
Alex Strauss
Chasing Shadows: Socialism Won’t Go Away Because It is Capitalism’s Antithesis 
Kathy Kelly
U.S. is Complicit in Child Slaughter in Yemen
Fran Shor
The Distemper of White Spite
Chad Hanson
We Know How to Protect Homes From Wildfires. Logging Isn’t the Way to Do It
Faisal Khan
Nawaz Sharif: Has Pakistan’s Houdini Finally Met his End?
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Versus Journalism: the Travails of Fourth Estate
Wim Laven
Honestly Looking at Family Values
Fred Gardner
Exploiting Styron’s Ghost
Dean Baker
Fact-Checking the Fact-Checker on Medicare-for-All
Weekend Edition
August 10, 2018
Friday - Sunday
David Price
Militarizing Space: Starship Troopers, Same As It Ever Was
Andrew Levine
No Attack on Iran, Yet
Melvin Goodman
The CIA’s Double Standard Revisited
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The Grifter’s Lament
Aidan O'Brien
In Italy, There are 12,000 American Soldiers and 500,000 African Refugees: Connect the Dots 
Robert Fantina
Pity the Democrats and Republicans
Ishmael Reed
Am I More Nordic Than Members of the Alt Right?
Kristine Mattis
Dying of Consumption While Guzzling Snake Oil: a Realist’s Perspective on the Environmental Crisis
James Munson
The Upside of Defeat
Brian Cloughley
Pentagon Spending Funds the Politicians
Pavel Kozhevnikov
Cold War in the Sauna: Notes From a Russian American
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail