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Not even one night

I thought that for once, my Eritrean friend would be able to have a sweet, stress-free sleep. I was wrong

The news came in yesterday, during Pesach, appropriately, like manna from heaven. Israel had reached a deal with the UNHRC to stop the forced deportation of 38,000 Eretria and Sudanese asylum seekers from Israel to Rwanda. Half would be settled in Western countries and half would remain in Israel with status and support. It was a moment of victory after years of struggle.

I got home and told anyone I could think of to tell, bouncing around my apartment, I could hardly stay focused on my work or the video conference I was taking part in. After work I went to meet up with a friend from Eretria, he was coming to our apartment. Meeting him at the bus station, with broad smiles we exchanged a hug. I don’t think I had seen my friend with such a big smile on his face before. Finally, he would be able to put his head down on the pillow and go to sleep free from the worry about deportation and where he would be, what his life would be like in a month’s time.

The daily fear and insecurity that this community has been living with for the last few years is unforgivable. No human being should have to live their life month to month, never knowing where they will be in two months’ time, whether they will have enough to eat, whether they will know the language where they are, whether they will be safe. No one should have to live this way. Tonight, my friend would be able to put down his head and sleep a wonderful sleep free from that stress.

We sat for the evening, talking and laughing and thinking about the future. As we were pulling out the sofa bed for him to sleep on for the night, the reports started coming in. In Hebrew first, and then in English. Bibi was cancelling the agreement. Luckily my friend doesn’t read either language and with a quick word to my girlfriend, we decided not to tell him. He deserved this one night’s peaceful sleep before he would have to be shocked back into his uncertain reality. For one night at least, maybe he would dream of the future instead of fearing it.

About the Author
Michael Hilkowitz holds degrees in History and Secondary Education from Temple University and is a graduate of the Philadelphia High School for International Affairs. He is currently a Masters student in Security and Diplomacy Studies at Tel Aviv University. Living in Israel since 2012, he formerly served as the Chief Content Office for The Israel Innovation Fund, a 501.c.3 working to promote Israeli culture, art, and humanities innovation abroad.
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