News

Kibbutzim in Africa?

Rafael Medoff

E Jewish Philanthropy

May 13, 2013

Darfurian, Jews and Armenians join together on the Armenian genocide memorial day; photo courtesy Combat Genocide Association.

They may not wear those classic blue “kibbutznik hats,” but some Ethiopians, Sudanese, and Eritreans may soon be establishing Israeli-style communes in eastern Africa.

It’s part of an innovative project launched by young Israelis to deal with the problem of the tens of thousands of African refugees who have slipped across the Egypt-Israel border during the past several years.

An estimated 60,000 refugees and migrants from Sudan, Eritrea, and other African countries have made the hazardous journey across the Sinai desert and into Israel since 2006.

Many have been kidnapped and tortured for ransom by Bedouin Arabs in the Sinai. There have also been incidents in which Egyptian border police shot at the migrants. Refugee activists estimate that several hundred have been shot dead by the Egyptians, and several thousand have been murdered by members of the “Rashida” Bedouin tribe.