Under Vic's expert guidance, "an inspirational corps of representatives dedicated to figuring out how best to engage their youth..." has at last emerged in Blacktown, and at the top of their wish-list, says Vic, is a "community centre." (A community shift takes shape out west, Vic Alhadeff, Sydney Morning Herald, 14/3/14)
Well done, Vic! I'm sure it'll be up and running before you can say 'If you will it, it is no dream'.
A community centre for African refugees in Hatikvah, however, seems to be the last thing on the minds of Israel's movers and shakers:
"At 1am on January 10, 2012, the Knesset passed an amendment to the 1954 Prevention of Infiltration Law, a bill originally authorized to consolidate the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians that began in 1947. The new law authorized the government to arrest and hold anyone the government deemed an 'infiltrator' - namely, non-Jewish asylum seekers and migrants - in internment camps for a period as long as 3 years and without being charged or receiving trial. Even the handful of Africans who managed to garner refugee status or permanent residency from the Israel government would now be labeled criminal 'infiltrators'. The bill passed by whopping majority of 37-8... The anti-migrant bill included substantial funding for the expansion of the Saharonim facility at Ketziot, a Negev Desert mega-prison that once held thousands of Palestinians detained during the First Intifada, and which was due to be renovated to hold around 8,000 Africans fleeing persecution - 'infiltrators' - for an indefinite period... The Independent, a British newspaper, wrote that Ketziot would amount to 'the world's biggest detention center.' Reuven Rivlin, the speaker of the Knesset, described the planned center in much starker terms. 'As a democrat and a Jew, I have a hard time with concentration camps where people are warehoused,' he remarked. But Netanyahu countered the critics by arguing that the desert prison was a 'humanitarian solution' that would prevent non-Jewish Africans from 'chang[ing] the character of the state'." (Goliath: Life & Loathing in Greater Israel, Max Blumenthal, 2013, p 336)
Still, it's never too late! In the land where the sword was once beaten into a ploughshare, I'm confidant that if he ever gets over there, Vic will set about beating the Ketziot concentration camp into a community centre.
But hey, I've got an even bigger job for this miracle worker.
When he noted in his Herald piece that "some immigrants [to Australia] have arrived from countries where men in uniform are to be feared," that got me thinking. Israel's probably got more scary, trigger-happy men in uniform in the West Bank than is good for its fabled soul, right? So while he's over there beating concentration camps into community centres, why can't he also work his considerable magic and have them removed from the West Bank at the same time?
Just think of the applause, Vic. The Nobel Peace Prize. Even better, the Sydney Peace Prize!
C'mon, Vic, if anyone can end the occupation - although you probably wouldn't call it that - you can!