Sudanese think tank at the Holot Detention Center
Today Ghana ThinkTank returned to the Holot Detention Center, where many African Asylum seekers are sent, to work with our Sudanese think tank. When we first formed this think tank, every member lived in south Tel Aviv, but by the time I personally had arrived in Tel Aviv, all but one member had been picked up and sent to Holot Detainment Camp.
The camp is located in the Negev desert, a hot, dry, sandblown and desolate place. Last time we ran our think tank session in the shade of a tree, seated on bits of wood and pipe on blankets we had brought from Tel Aviv.
This time the tree was gone – we were told that Israeli police cut it down because it had become a place where the asylum seekers gathered. So we found a stack of industrial spools in the desert to serve as our shade.
Seeking shade in the desert from a stack of industrial spools. (Israeli police told us to move on moments after this photo)
We lingered long enough to eat the Sudanese food we had brought from Tel Aviv before looking for another meeting place.
Within minutes Israeli police arrived to tell us we were not allowed to sit here, so we wandered through the outskirts of the desert looking for a shady place to run our session. Eventually we found some shade from a fenced enclosure around a pipe.
A new meeting place that evaded the interest of the police.
And so began our session.
This session’s goal was to report back to the Sudanese think tank, show them our progress on their solutions, and ask them how to proceed.
Since we last met to discuss solutions for problems submitted by Israelis in south Tel Aviv, we had been working on four actions:
1 – A series of gardening workshops meant to link asylum seekers and Israeli resident through skillshares. “You can communicate through your skills…”
2- A women only community watch – Israeli and African women providing security for the infamous Neve Sha’anaan neighborhood.
3 – A tour run by south Tel Aviv residents, reflecting the conflicting and overlapping agendas between Tzphonim, Mizrachim, and Refugees in south Tel Aviv.
4 – A lesson in conflicting cultural codes through a visual guide to misunderstanding between African asylum seekers and Israelis.
The Sudanese think tank at Holot Detention center responds to our “Visual Guide to Misunderstanding between African asylum seekers and Israelis” – our implementation of their solution regarding conflicting cultural codes for refugees in Israel. Topics included the idea of Israel as a refugee state, authorities as providing safety or abuse, Sabbath as a day for rest verse mourning, homosexuality and friendship, and many others.
Asylum seekers in Holot Detainment Camp present their tour of their south Tel Aviv from afar, to be presented in Tel Aviv by asylum seekers still living in the city.
Thanks so much to Yael Ravid of Kitchen Talks, Maayan Sheleff our intrepid curator and partner, Haim Yafim for filming, and our Sudanese asylum seeker think tank members Adam Arbab, Ahmed Mirsal Adam, Anwar Suliman Arbab, Arbab Abakar, Bashor Mohammad Salah, Jamal Omer, Zakaria Mohammed Abdallah Saleh , Hassan Ahmed Shakur, Yeman Adam, Muhamed Haron Abker, Noureldin Mohammed Adam, Adil Aldao
As the sun fell in the sky, the Sudanese think tank and a group of visitors watched a video we produced since our last visit, of think tank session with Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers discussing the problems of Israelis living in south Tel Aviv.
It was a pretty inspiring moment, watching asylum seekers nod in understanding or chuckle in derision at the often piercing points of the view the first sessions had generated.
My most poignant moment was watching their response to an argument between Israelis in south Tel Aviv:
“The refugees had a choice to fight or run – they run! We had a choice to run or fight – we fight! They suffer because they are going the wrong direction… If you love your country, fight for your country!”
“But the German Jews… they stayed in their homeland… I wish more had run… Six million died!”
We will continue to implement solutions this week, working with a groups of local artists, activists, actors, community gardeners, homeless and a politician, who can continue to develop the actions after we have left. We are trying wherever possible to connect solutions to local groups and individuals with related missions and agendas, so that the Ghana ThinkTank process can have greater resonance into the future.
Our opening is this Thursday, and this Friday we will screen the video to our Eritrean and south Tel Aviv think tank before a public discussion.
And Tuesday is the maiden voyage of the Frankenstein TreeCycle, a solar powered media center in a leopard skin blanket and a frankenstein tree on a bike, to collect more problems from south Tel Aviv.
Thanks so much to Yael Ravid of Kitchen Talks, Maayan Sheleff our intrepid curator and partner, Haim Yafim for filming, and our Sudanese asylum seeker think tank members Adam Arbab, Ahmed Mirsal Adam, Anwar Suliman Arbab, Arbab Abakar, Bashor Mohammad Salah, Jamal Omer, Zakaria Mohammed Abdallah Saleh , Hassan Ahmed Shakur, Yeman Adam, Muhamed Haron Abker, Noureldin Mohammed Adam, and Adil Aldao.