(photo credit: Courtesy)
To the Children of Israel: Permit me to introduce myself. I am Oscar T. Olivier. My family and I are literally standing at your threshold, asking to be let in.
In my home in Africa's Congo there is no peace, only war, and I have become persona non grata. I have been living with the Children of Israel in the Jewish state for some 13 years.
A "stranger among you," in my heart I am one of you.
What do I mean that I am one of you in my heart?
My daughter, Esther, was born among you. She attends an Israeli school with your children and speaks Hebrew, your language, as her mother tongue.
I have integrated myself into Israeli society. I have become a student of your culture and the Hebrew language.
Recently, when we were attacked by Hizbullah, we stood shoulder-to-shoulder with you in face of the threat.
AND YET we - myself, Esther, Matt and Bridget - remain strangers among you. Despite the fact that the society has opened its doors to me, the state apparatus remains tightly closed.
When my daughter Esther was born, I was allowed to live in Israel, while at the same time forbidden to work for a living. Thankfully, one of the children of Israel, Guy Meroz - a crusading "bulldog" - decided to provide me with the financial means needed to survive.
I then got the right to work four months after Esther's birth.
BUT NOW we've come to the point where Esther has been made persona non grata in Israel.
She's been given 45 days to leave Israel.
The only reason is that, Esther is "guilty" of being born in the year 2003, and not in the year 2000. Had she been born earlier, the rules say she could stay. In order for Esther not to pay for the crime of her birth year, I must provide an excuse to please the bureaucracy of the State of Israel, or Esther will be deported to the Congo.
How do you imagine I, as a father, feel knowing that in the Congo rape is a conventional weapon used in the ongoing violence? Please do not send us away.
I appreciate that a nation must control its borders. And I am not against the law. Indeed, I want Esther to grow up in Israel because it is a state of law - the only one in the Middle East. Generally speaking, without law there is no civilization.
I am standing by your door with my family; together we are knocking, and we know that the Jewish heart is full of mercy.
Please let us stay. We promise to continue to cherish this country, to work hard and to be model residents.
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