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Israel and the (Vietnamese) boat people
The Times of Israel ^ | June 6, 2012 | Shoshana Bryen

Posted on 06/08/2012 10:34:19 AM PDT by Ooh-Ah

Sunday marks 35 years since 66 Vietnamese refugees, fleeing the communist takeover of their homeland on a small, leaky boat, found deliverance. They were without food and water, and ships from Panama, Norway and Japan had ignored their distress signals (violating the most basic rule of the sea). They despaired of rescue.

Captain Meir Tadmor of the Israeli cargo ship Yuvali was on his way to Japan when he saw them on 10 June 1977. The Yuvali’s Chief Engineer wrote the following late last year:

I was there. In South China Sea, close to Vietnamese coast, we met small fishing boat, few people on the deck, asking for food and water. We stop ship, and first wanted to give them as they asking: food and water, but than come on the deck a woman with small baby in the hands, and told us that they are Vietnamese refugees. That is when we decided to take all on board… Their leader was the only one to talk English, very nice person, he was with family – wife, child, wife’s sister and parents. We took care of them, give them proper food and accommodation (sic).

After receiving permission from the Israeli government to find them refuge, Capt. Tadmor made an unscheduled stop in Hong Kong, which refused to allow the ship to dock. He sailed on to Taiwan, where the refugees were refused because they had no citizenship.

That would be fixed.

In his first official act, newly elected Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin made the Vietnamese citizens of Israel. The Taiwan government then allowed the former refugees to enter the country, receive assistance and be taken to the airport for their trip to Israel, the first of nearly 300 Vietnamese refugees to find safe harbor there.

At the ceremony to welcome them, Israeli Minister of Immigrant Absorption David Levy chastised those who had ignored the leaky, dangerous boats and ignored their hungry, sick and desperate passengers:

Let them do as we have. May they lend a hand to save women and children who are in the heart of the sea without a homeland, and lead them to safe shores.

Israel understood boat people because Jews in living memory had been boat people.

Prime Minister Begin told President Carter:

We never have forgotten the boat with 900 Jews, the St. Louis, having left Germany in the last weeks before the Second World War… traveling from harbor to harbor, from country to country, crying out for refuge. They were refused… Therefore it was natural… to give those people a haven in the Land of Israel.

There was the St. Louis, and there were other boats.

More than 100,000 Jews tried to reach Palestine by sea between 1934 and 1948 on 120 ships making 142 voyages. Only a few thousand made it to Israel that way. More than 1,600 drowned. More than 1,000 were killed on the SS Struma (768 dead, one survivor) and the Mefkura (345 dead, five survivors), both sunk by Soviet torpedoes. The British interned as many as 50,000 in Cyprus, or back in Germany, including the passengers of the Exodus in 1947. The Hannah Senesh docked; the Enzo Sereni didn’t. The Salvador and the Europa were wrecked in storms.

The experience of Jewish refugees and the hopelessness of statelessness made Israel sensitive to the hopelessness of people from another place, another culture, another war, giving the Vietnamese a place to start over.

(For those rolling their eyes on behalf of stateless Palestinian refugees: It is precisely the Jewish experience with statelessness that impels Israel to continue to seek a mechanism by which Palestinians can achieve the state the Arab states declined on their behalf in 1948 – without losing the State of Israel.)

Some of the Vietnamese left Israel, looking for a more familiar culture (and seeking Vietnamese spouses for their children), but others stayed.  You can see the story of Hanmoi Nguyen, who remained in Israel, and his five daughters in the film “The Journey of Vaan Nguyen.”

The Yuvali’s Chief Engineer left his e-mail on his blog post so the Vietnamese could contact him, saying, “I do believe that they all remember me.”

No doubt they do.

Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen is Senior Director of The Jewish Policy Center .


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Israel; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: boatpeople; vietnam

1 posted on 06/08/2012 10:34:31 AM PDT by Ooh-Ah
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To: Ooh-Ah

What an idiot. I bet she thinks Israel should let the 70,000 African illegal alien savages stay there as well, and then when they become 600,000 in 25 years, to give THEM a state as well. Israel needs to deport all Leftists before they destroy them.


2 posted on 06/08/2012 10:38:47 AM PDT by montag813
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To: Ooh-Ah

God has blessed many people through Israel. I love them.


3 posted on 06/08/2012 10:51:23 AM PDT by FreeAtlanta (Liberty and Justice for ALL)
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To: montag813

Que? Where the hell did that come from... finished the entire article with nothing but a positive notion only to be confronted by your seemingly out of nowhere post. What are you talking about?


4 posted on 06/08/2012 10:55:01 AM PDT by douginthearmy (Obamagebra: 1 job + 1 hope + 1 change = 0 jobs + 0 hope)
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To: douginthearmy

My guess is that this is what montag813 is referring to:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethiopian_Jews_in_Israel


5 posted on 06/08/2012 11:01:17 AM PDT by BwanaNdege (Man has often lost his way, but modern man has lost his address - Gilbert K. Chesterton)
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To: SJackson; Nachum

PING


6 posted on 06/08/2012 11:03:13 AM PDT by Ooh-Ah
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To: douginthearmy
Que? Where the hell did that come from... finished the entire article with nothing but a positive notion only to be confronted by your seemingly out of nowhere post. What are you talking about?

You need to understand WHY the author wrote this piece now. It is because Israel has been inundated by 70,000 illegal aliens from Eritrea and Somalia in just 18 months. They are committing mass crime, living in streets and gang-raping Israelis women. Netanyahu is trying to deport them en masse, but leftist bleeding hearts want them to STAY somehow! (this amount would be like 3 million new illegals entering the U.S. in 18 months). When the author inserted the paragraph trying to make Jews feel guilty about the Palestinians, it made it more than obvious what she was up to.

7 posted on 06/08/2012 11:48:47 AM PDT by montag813
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To: montag813

I hope I’m not an idiot, I know I’m not an leftist, and there is a HUGE difference between rescuing people in distress and having tens of thousands of people coming into your country WITHOUT your permission and under circumstances the country doesn’t control. The Israeli government is doing what is can and should with the African immigrants. But equally, Israel did a great thing for the Vietnamese and while Israel is being castigated in the world media for presumed reprehensible behavior toward others, the 35th anniversary of the rescue of Board People should be noted.


8 posted on 06/08/2012 11:51:23 AM PDT by Joshandjessie (sbryen)
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To: douginthearmy

Please read carefully - the paragraph about the Palestinians was precisely to PRE-EMPT people who would say, “Yes, Israel rescued Vietnamese, but they’re oppressing Palestinians, so it doesn’t matter.” Israel’s problem with Palestinians was created by the Arabs and the UN, not by Israel. The problem with the Africans was, if anything, created by Israel being kind in the beginning and then being unable to cope with the increasing result of its choice not to let people die in the desert. Now it has to cope and I suppose the Israeli government will do what it has to - that’s what governments are supposed to do. The Vietnamese were sui generis and it should be enough to remember that Israel saw a problem, fixed it and was appreciated for its humanity.


9 posted on 06/08/2012 12:42:39 PM PDT by Joshandjessie (sbryen)
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To: montag813
When the author inserted the paragraph trying to make Jews feel guilty about the Palestinians

I didn't read it that way. Sounded to me like she layed the blame for the Palestinians on the Arab states who refused to take them, particularly the part where she says without losing Israel.

10 posted on 06/08/2012 4:10:42 PM PDT by douginthearmy (Obamagebra: 1 job + 1 hope + 1 change = 0 jobs + 0 hope)
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To: Ooh-Ah

So...the VN’ese went and they all lived in Israel, then?


11 posted on 06/08/2012 6:02:45 PM PDT by gaijin
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To: gaijin

Yep! I’ve actually been in a Vietnamese restaurant in Israel!


12 posted on 06/08/2012 6:57:45 PM PDT by Ooh-Ah
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To: gaijin

Yep! I’ve actually been in a Vietnamese restaurant in Israel! That was how I first learned about the boat people coming to Israel.


13 posted on 06/08/2012 6:58:56 PM PDT by Ooh-Ah
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