Yesterday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded its Oscar for Best Documentary, Short Subject to “Strangers No More,” a film about a school in South Tel Aviv that educates children from 48 different countries, many of whom have come to Israel as refugees or because their parents have immigrated for employment. The film’s co-producer and co-director Karen Goodman thanked the school’s children in her acceptance speech:
“Thank you most of all to the exceptional immigrant and refugee children from 48 countries at Tel Aviv’s remarkable Bialik Rogozin school. You’ve shown us that through education, understanding, and tolerance, peace really is possible.”
Yet Mya Guarnieri at the Middle East news website Mondoweiss reports that the Israeli government doesn’t necessarily see it that way. “After a five month delay, which followed a year-long battle over the matter, the deportation of 400 children and their parents is scheduled to begin on Sunday,” Guarnieri reports, “Just a week after a crowd in the US applauded the touching story of foreigners who find a home here in Israel.” Moreover, the Israeli government may deport children from the Bialik Rogozin school, including one of the stars of “Strangers No More”:
Just a week after the Israeli media runs its hip-hip-hooray! reports of the win, the Oz Unit will start rounding such kids up. And one of the children is the 10-year-old star of the film. According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel:
…10-year-old Esther who starred in the movie is facing a probable deportation alongside an estimated 120 pupils from her school. Esther fled from South Africa and arrived in Israel with her father four years ago – thus missing the five-year mark set as a condition to remaining in the country.
Leftist Meretz Party leader Haim Oron called the deportation plan “brutal, random, and regretful” while a former member of the Knesset from the same party called the deportation plan “despicable” and “evil.”
As for the children attending Bialik Rogozin starring in “Strangers No More,” Guarnieri observes, “it seems that ‘strangers’ are strangers to the Israeli government — no matter how tolerant and understanding the children might make the state seem to the world.” (HT: @julespenner)