Welcoming the strangers among us – Africans in Israel’s Levinsky Park
6 October 2017
In 2012, while visiting her daughter in Tel Aviv, Beth Kruvant happened upon a controversial spot. Levinsky Park had become a meeting place and sometimes a makeshift home for up to 65,000 people who fled through Egypt from trouble spots in Africa — Darfur, South Sudan, Congo, and Eritrea — the same locale where Jews from Germany, Eastern Europe, Russia, and Arab counties had congregated decades before.
Kruvant’s daughter, Dara, who had been working in a refugee health clinic and studying for a master’s degree in crisis and trauma at Tel Aviv University, had told her mother about the migrants whose lives revolved around the park in the southern end of the city. Upon seeing it for herself — the current population of Africans in Israel is now estimated to be around 45,000, according to Kruvant — Beth decided their stories needed to be told, and that a documentary would be the most effective vehicle.
So, between 2012 and 2016, she spent two weeks each year recording their experiences in Levinsky Park and beyond, and interspersed their words with the highly vocal supporters and detractors of Israelis in their midst. The film, which won the 2017 Best Documentary Award at the New Jersey International Film Festival in June, was produced by Good Footage Productions, based in South Orange, and was edited by Montclair resident Cindy Kaplan Rooney.