At Passover: We Empathize With the Exodus of Eritreans

By Shlomo Maital


   At our Passover Seder, we basked in the warm glow of our family, grandchildren and guests.  We enjoyed our two sons’ gourmet cooking (leg of lamb, done to a turn), and our youngest granddaughter Eliana’s wonderful smile and disposition.  We told the story of the Exodus, how the Jewish people became free from the bondage of Egyptian slavery some 3,000 years ago. 

   But we also heard about a new Exodus, from Eritrea, from our two Eritrean guests, who some years ago made their way at great danger and difficulty across Sudan to Egypt, across the Sinai Desert, to an unwelcoming Israel.   One of them just completed his degree in psychology at a leading Israeli college.  I had the pleasure of eating at his restaurant in South Tel Aviv, which he owns together with an Israeli partner.   Our outgoing Interior Minister Eli Yishai (who leads the Sefardi Haredi party Shas) has determinedly tried to expel the Eritreans, illegally; good that he is now replaced with Likud Minister Gideon Saar. 

    One of our guests told us how today, the Eritrean refugees have become an industry, much like the Somalis treat passing ships.  As Eritreans flee their country from a murderous dictator, a modern Hitler, many are captured in Sudan,  almost at once, then passed on like chattel from one criminal gang to another, sold each time,  ending up in Sinai in the hands of Bedouin, who demand tens of thousands of dollars in ransom (to recoup their ‘investment’). (Recently an 8-year-old Eritrean child was held for ransom; the Eritrean Diaspora somehow raised the money to free her).   There are worse horror stories that I cannot even recount here in this blog, related to body parts for organ transplants. 

     All this goes on, with utterly no concern in the world and no press coverage.  At our Seder, I remember Edmund Burke’s adage:  All that it takes for evil to triumph, is for good people to do nothing.  And we are good people.  And we are doing nothing.  So the evil in Eritrea is triumphing.  Very very sad, very very angering.