Wednesday, June 23, 2004


Legal foreigners thrown out of Israel

A part of the survey I cited earlier about Jewish Israeli attitudes towards Israeli Arabs also focused on foreign workers inside Israel. According to the survey results:
A large majority of the Jewish respondents - 72.1 percent - favored restricting foreign workers' entrance into Israel and 54.2 percent said the economic situation was getting worse because the foreign workers were taking the jobs.

Dr. Dafna Kanti-Nissim, a partner in the study, said the survey reflects a known phenomenon in the world, in which a threatened public tends to develop hostility toward the minorities living in it.

"There is a prevalent conception in the public that identifies Israeli Arabs with the threat of terror," says Kanti-Nissim. "The foreign workers are seen as an economic threat, although in fact they are not threatening the work places of most of the Israelis."
Now, a day later, evidence is emerging that the xenophobic attitudes of some Israelis were being put into action by "overzealous Immigration Police officials." A conversation transcript involving Israeli Police Superintendent Dekel Muskato reveals very disturbing information.
"Interior Ministry delegates were deliberately fooled by the immigration police, on all levels," says Muskato in a conversation transcript which has reached Haaretz. "Thousands of legal workers have been deported from Israel ... as a result of the intervention of Immigration Police in matters where it was forbidden for them to intervene."

Muskato explained how such deportations of legally registered foreigners are carried out. "You go into a home where there are 20 Chinese, and you don't make the slightest effort to attain their passports. You bring such a worker to the Interior Ministry [without a passport], knowing that had he come with a passport he would not be deported. In this way, you fool the Interior Ministry delegate. That's because one criterion used in determining whether or not a person stays in the country is whether or not he has a passport."

During this conversation, Muskato implied that attorneys and other Israelis have in some instances brought the passports of detained foreign workers to the Immigration Police, only to have the passports hidden away by the police officials.

Later in the discussion, Muskato said: "If you're asking whether foreign workers are beaten - yes, they are beaten up."
And if that's the situation for foreign workers, one can only imagine what existence is like for Israeli Arabs.

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