WHEN I PUT MY SILVER DIGITAL RECORDER on the table, Kidane Isaac, an Eritrean refugee, eyes it and shifts in his chair. He angles his broken straw fedora downwards, tipping the rim lower, as though to cover his face.
The hat, which has a black band and a hole in the top—bits of straw unravelling, sticking this way and that—doesn’t suit the red, white and blue windbreaker Isaac wears. It’s also a poor choice for the weather. It’s a wintry day in Israel and the stylish summer hat is ineffective against the cold.
Not to mention that the fedora seems out of place here, at a coffee kiosk in South Tel Aviv’s Central Bus Station. The surrounding neighbourhoods, the poorest in the city, are home to a large population of foreign workers and African refugees as well as a handful of Palestinian collaborators. While some migrant labourers make enough to send remittances home to their families, most African refugees are barely hanging on to the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder. Some have fallen off completely—homeless, they live in the parks near the Central Bus Station.