As we hear about case 1000, 2000, 4000 and God only knows what scandal the prime minister is involved in, is there some validity to Natalie Portman’s criticism of uncle Bibi? Admittedly, the infantile actions of Princess Amadala imply that she doth protest too much. After all, has anyone explained to this new Valley girl that the American Ku Klux Klan hates Jews almost as much as they hate blacks? Perhaps you might not agree with my analysis that the US is actually an empire and that the Republic is dead. However, she may regret things if Anakin Skywalker turns out to be Darth Vader. With that characterization, I will not show up for the next Comicon. Leave it to Ms Portman to reject legitimate defense of Israel’s borders in Gaza and imply that we are all racists.

That being said, it does not seem that Bibi isn’t doing much to redeem his reputation with regard to the heartbreaking case of Avera Mengistu, according to family spokesperson Liat Beza. According to Ms Beza inaction on the part of Bibi’s administration has led to Avera languishing in Gaza for more than 1339 days.

Avraham “Avera” Mengistu is an Israeli man who crossed over the Israeli-Gaza border on September 7, 2014. He was arrested and interrogated by Hamas, after which he disappeared. Liat says he is mentally unstable and had been admitted to a hospital for mental health treatment in the past. He has been treated with medication. Tragically, he stopped taking his meds a few weeks prior to his crossing.

Avera was born in Ethiopia, the fourth of ten children. He made aliyah with his family at age five and grew up in a poor neighborhood in Ashkelon, which is 20 kilometers (12 mi) from Gaza. His mother cleaned for a living, however, his father became chronically unemployed. The parents divorced in 2012. After finishing high school, Avera worked in a series of odd jobs, including recycling.[1]

In 2011, Avera began to experience mental health problems after his older brother Masrashau died. In March 2013, Avera was exempted from mandatory military service in the IDF after a being found unfit for service. In the year before his disappearance, his schizophrenia worsened. He began to hurt himself and talk illogically.[

Initially, Hamas said Hamas was interrogated and seemed to have psychological issues. Israeli officials said there is “credible intelligence” that Hamas holds Avera “against his will”.

The Mengistu family went to Geneva in in 2015 to and the US in 2017 to meet with human rights organizations, including the Red Cross and Amnesty International, to gain their assistance and to put pressure on Hamas. The family provided medical documentation of his hospitalizations and his need for daily medication and therapy, as well as proof he did not serve in the army, carry any weapon, and was in no way involved in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

Critics say the Mengistu family is being treated poorly by the Israeli government because of their Ethiopian ethnicity. Avera’s brother, Yalo, has stated that if Avera were white, the affair would have been handled differently.

According to Ms Beza, on Thursday, April 26 at 3pm, the will march from Yad Mordechai near Ashkelon to Machson Erev, the crossing into Gaza. They plan on blocking the crossing. This crossing is where information about prisoners is exchanged.

Frankly, I wish them well and God speed. I have three children, so I can sympathize on that level. However, I have another reason. As my marriage melted down and careened towards divorce, I had a nervous breakdown and would not get out of bed for 2 months. I admitted myself after a kind friend and my psychiatrist dragged my butt out of bed and took me to the emergency room at Kfar Shaul hospital in Jerusalem where I was treated and diagnosed as bipolar. Medicated and six years later, I am getting my life back on track. I can’t speak to the racial issues, however, I can tell you that the stigma of mental illness is tragic, painful and causes no good. You find out quickly who your friends really are in such situations. My heart goes out to the family.

Bibi, Avera is not a soldier. Work to get him out separately. The family has suffered enough. I don’t know if this small op-ed will make a difference in getting him released, but maybe. No one thought Alfred Dreyfus would not ever get off of Devil’s Island. However, Emile Zola took up his cause when he wrote to the French president and told him to release Dreyfus. With that, I say J’accuse! Bibi, you’re not doing enough!

About the Author
Akiva ben Avraham is a former community college adjunct, US Army intelligence analyst and officer, and a caregiver.