Teen and daughter of Holocaust survivors team up for refugees
Last Saturday night (July 28), more than 450 people of varying ages, ethnicities and religions, marched in Tel Aviv calling for the just treatment of African refugees in Israel. The march was the brainchild of 15-year-old Oren Rimon and 65-year-old Atta Buchman, a second generation Holocaust survivor.
The march took place just one week after Oren turned to Shatil for help, and with an emergency grant from the New Israel Fund.
“I could no longer remain silent, and thus contribute to the current situation,” Oren told the crowd.
Oren met Atta Buchman when volunteering at a nursing home that employs African refugees as caretakers. As a child of Holocaust survivors and a Lithuanian immigrant, Atta empathized with the refugees’ plight, especially after getting to know her Eritrean caretaker. Together, she and Oren saw an opportunity for Holocaust survivors to join forces with African refugees to help change the racist discourse in Israel as well as the refugees’ ambiguous status.
Oren and Atta believe that Israeli society should be particularly sensitive to the plight of refugees. They hope that involving Holocaust survivors will help change the atmosphere of racism, stigmatization, and persecution they see around them.
The march coincided with the fast of Tisha B’av, which commemorates the Jews’ own exile as a result of baseless hatred. At the march, MK Shlomo Molla, musician-activist Anat Gutman, Oren, Atta, and others addressed the crowd.
“This was a true grass roots initiative,” said Avi Dabush, SHATIL Program Director. “The energy, ability and charisma of the 15-year-old who launched this effort reaffirm our faith in the next generation’s commitment to human rights and social justice.”
SHATIL helped Oren with organizing, publicity, networking with organizations, fundraising for the event and general assistance. The NIF granted funds for the protest via its emergency human rights fund, which enables NIF to respond to grant requests for activities in 24 hours.
Following the protest, Oren connected with ASSAF (Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel), Marak Livinsky (a soup kitchen for refugees and asylum seekers), and other activists to discuss future plans.
“The protest is just the beginning,” said Oren. “We hope it is the start of a social change movement for African refugees in Israel.”
Click here to hear Atta and Oren speak.