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The Run of the Immigrant Danino – Natan Alterman July 25, 2010

Posted by jewishdisabilityunite in Society.

David Danino’s file states that he is not capable of physical labour. The doctor has been told that he has a slight limp. The doctor asks Danino to run a few steps forward and back. Danino understands that this is a matter of life and death. He jumps forward more energetically than is quite necessarily and strains to prove that he walks and runs well. He then comes back and stands before the doctor, a mute expression in his eyes. The doctor judges that Danino’s defect does not disqualify him. In the hall, decorated with pictures of the king and with Moroccan flags, the families that have been disqualified are crying with audible sobs. The families that have been accepted for aliya disperse quietly, with confidence. Eager for the great future that lies before them.  – S. Tevet, Ha’Aretz.

Yes, this item too will not be lost.
This too is not forgotten.
A page of silence and of shame.
The page of the disgrace
of a father who jumped, jumped
and ran, as his children looked on, stunned.

The page of the disgrace
of a father whom the great Return to Zion
commanded to jump, and he,
in his little circle,
ran, ran, and in his heart
a prayer to God Almighty,
to help him not to feel
the aching in his leg…

And God Almighty heard him!
And so God said to him:
Run, run, servant Danino…
Run, thou shalt not stumble.
I am with thee!
If this be a law unto Israel
then we shall overcome it,
thou and I!

Run, run, servant Danino…
I am a help unto thee…
Run, run and fear thee not.
And I shall hide thy blemish.
And yet I shall not hide
the insult of My people’s resurrection,
the radiance of which
now glimmers in thy tear.


The poet Natan Alterman ran his “Seventh Column” in the popular journal Davar during the 50’s and 60’s in Israel. The column was a poetic commentary on items in the news, including some which may otherwise have passed with little public comment. Here, writing in 1955, Alterman takes note of the discriminatory immigration policy used in ‘selecting’ which Moroccan Jews could make use of the Law of Return. Translation: Jessica Sacks.



1. Joel P - July 25, 2010

Is that really true? that the Law of Return meant some Jews were more equal than others?

2. jewishdisabilityunite - July 25, 2010

You could put it like that… The Law of Return excludes a few categories of Jews, including criminals (fair enough?) and people ‘endanger public health’. In the 1950’s that was understood to include people who were going to drain social services too much without pulling their weight in ‘building up the land’ physically. Including people with disabilities.

The rules were applied a little differently in different places: the Jewish Agency were apparently especially selective in Morocco, where the applicants for aliya also tended to be very poor. There were issues of race, class and disability all at the same time…

Things are a lot better these days, but some of those Jews who were left behind are still living in Morocco, in institutions, with no community left to support them. Others were murdered in anti-Semitic incidents. Not the State of Israel’s proudest moment.

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