The press release written by me, was first issued on Sunday, 22 November 2009 on http://www.meretz.org.uk . The conference was fully researched and organised by me, minus on the ground implementation on the day.
Start 09.45 (9.00Doors Open), End 1930 (approx.)
- David Rosenberg: The 1905 Aliens Act . How it came to be, its impact and why it is important to know about it 110 years on.
- Leslie Baruch Brent: Sunday’s Child? My life story and how it shaped me.
- Out of Sight, Out of Mind: 25min. FILM documentary, (Harris / Ben Tovim) Narrated by Juliet Stevenson
- Edwin Shuker: Jewish Refugee from 1970s Iraq. How being a refugee has shaped me.
- Jayyab Abusafia: Refugee Existence in Gaza. A young Palestinian journalism student recounts his years growing up as a Palestinian refugee in Gaza under Israeli occupation.
- Nitzan Horowitz: Current Meretz Israel Member of Knesset (MK), Israeli House of Parliament. CANCELLED, We have instead Rotem Ilan of Israeli Children, an organisation fighting for the rights of refugee children who lived in Israel for the majority of their lives.
- The Forgotten Refugees (2005): Award winning Documentary about Jewish refugees from the Middle East and the Maghreb produced by the David Project / Isra TV.
- Ben Du Preez: Refugees cared for by African Refugee Development Centre (ARDC), Tel Aviv.
- Maurice Wren: Director, Asylum Aid. London: Asylum Aid 2010. Contemporary challenges and successes
- Pauline Levis: One person can make a difference. How and why I got involved in running a campaign to safe Behnam
- Mimitah Abofando: Professional singer originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo. She will perform live as well as talk a little about growing up in a refugee family!
If any people are experts on being refugees by their experiences throughout human history, the Jewish people would surely make a good candidate. Jewish people with direct refugee experience live still amongst us and can recount their still vivid memories. What the German Nazis labelled to be racial sub-humans “Untermenschen” were to be expelled from the German Reich by force. Today many Jewish people are well settled in relatively safe countries. Our refugee experience obligates us to look around us. What are the realities of refugees today? The last few decades saw a tightening of the EU borders to outsiders, with an increase of desperate people willing to risk all to reach Western shores. Many just want a better chance in life, others are refugees from the war torn battlegrounds that humanity fails to prevent or end. Asylum Laws have tightened in spite of the introduction of the European Human Rights Charter in the U.K. 1000s of people drown every year trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe, others perish in deserts. Many live phantom existences in European towns, exploited, without medical aid, always on the run. People smuggling has grown into a sophisticated business involving criminal gangs from many corners on earth. In Israel Darfurian Sudanese refugees and other migrants who hoped the Jewish people will understand have made headlines, mostly because of appalling treatment by the state and related authorities. The birth of Israel supposed to end unsafe refugee existence of Jews caused other Jews from Arabic speaking countries to become refugees and the stories of Palestinian refugees goes hand in hand with the establishment of Israel, and remains still unresolved. This is the reason why Meretz UK has decided to dedicate a special day on the issue of refugees and migrants to inform, discuss and encourage to help and take action. We have succeeded to get an excellent line of speakers and what’s more money raised through this event will reach refugees in Europe and in the Middle East.
David Rosenberg: is a teacher and writer who also leads guided walks on London’s radical history (http://www.eastendwalks.com/). He is on the National Committee of the Jewish Socialists’ Group and on the editorial committee of the Jewish Socialist Magazine. During the 1980s he was co-ordinator of the Jewish Cultural and Anti-Racist Project and then worked for the Runnymede Trust – a research and information body dealing with issues of racism and discrimination.
Leslie Baruch Brent’s autobiography is called “Sunday’s Child? A Memoir.” He is University of London Emeritus Professor, and a Kinder-transport refugee, and has been outspoken on a number of civil rights and human rights subjects in the past.
Edwin Shuker fled Iraq when Arab Nationalism caused Jewish expulsion as a response to the foundation of Israel. However he is a man of bitter sweet memories, who thinks that the Jewish experience amongst Arab and Muslim countries has more to offer than an example of failure, but also a possible example how “Others” can live successfully amongst a non-Jewish Muslim majority in the Middle East.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind is a 25 min documentary following three mothers as they struggle to provide a normal life for their children against the shocking reality of being an asylum seeker in the UK. Emily Harris and Yoni Bentovim are an award winning filmmaking duo. They began collaborating whilst studying at the London Film School and have continued to produce successful projects ranging from drama shorts and feature to television documentaries. The film was recently screened at the Human Rights Film Festival.
Jayyab Abusafia is from Jabylia Refuge Camp in the north of Gaza Strip, the biggest Refugee Camp in the Occupied Territories. He is studying for a Journalism career here in London.
Rotem Ilan, of the organisation Israeli Children, replaces Nitzan Horowitz on suggestion of his office. Rotem was described to us as one of the real hopefuls on young Left in Israel. Being only 24 years of age, with a BA in Psychology and Special Education she set up “Israeli Children” herself in July 2009. “Israeli Children” is fighting against the government decision to deport children of migrant workers that were born and raised in Israel. She will introduce the organization (that is supported among others by MK Nitzan Horowitz from Meretz), and talk about the absence of a clear migration policy in Israel that led to the current situation in which these children are facing deportation after they already felt a part of the Israeli society. See here for a profile in Haaretz.
David Project (Boston). An educational trust and lobby group that serves to promote “strong voices for Israel,” who also campaigned for the story of Arabic speaking Jewish refugees to be publicised. They and Isra TV are producers and promoters of the documentary “The Forgotten Refugees, (Executive Producer: Ralph Avi Goldwasser
Director: Michael Grynszpan)” winner of the Marbella Film festival 2007 and The Warsaw Film festival 2006.
Maurice Wren, Director, Asylum Aid. London: Asylum Aid 2010. Contemporary challenges and Successes:Asylum Aid is a leading national charity working to secure protection for people seeking refuge in the United Kingdom from persecution and human rights abuses abroad. They provide legal aid, and act as a lobby and support group
Pauline Levis is a single-handed grassroot campaigner for an Iranian Refugee and Asylum Seeker. She is a former chair of Meretz UK by coincidence.
Mimitah Abofando is a professional singer originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo. She grew up in a refugee family in the UK and has recently won the award of best new talent at the 2nd African Music Award. http://www.mimitah.com/
Buy Tickets either via our online facility here (now deleted), with a cheque issued to to Meretz UK, 37a Broadhurst Gardens, London NW6 3BN or pay on door. Limited Availability!