On paper Israel's for-profit manpower agencies act as job providers for impoverished groups from third world countries. In reality, they are the drivers of a system that harms workers, employers, and the state. By Abigail F. Kolker In Israel, there are some 60,000 migrant caregivers, comprising the largest group of documented migrant workers in the country. These workers provide individualized, home-based care for the elderly and severely disabled. The vast majority (over 80 percent) of these workers are women, mostly hailing from the Philippines, Nepal, Sri Lanka, India, and Moldova. [tmwinpost] The recruitment and monitoring of migrant caregivers is controlled…Read More...
Legal advocates decry Israeli policies toward migrant workers as inhumane and claim that they violate the laborers’ human right to family. Maris Delusong, a 36-year-old caregiver from the Philippines, is alone at Tel Aviv’s Central Bus Station. She stops at a sale rack outside a clothing store. She looks at the baby clothes, pulls a pink onesie off the rack and runs her fingers over the soft fabric. Her face is sad as she puts the outfit back and moves along. “It’s hard to be alone,” Delusong says. She found herself drawn to the baby clothes, she says, because “I…Read More... | 16 Comments
There's been a string of victories for minorities on Israeli reality TV - does it mean anything? There are probably a lot of people in Israel today who are really proud of their country. Last night, a Filipina cleaning lady won the final of the Israeli X-Factor - one of the highest rating shows in the country. Israelis are probably saying to themselves: "See, we just voted for a 47-year-old, lesbian Filipina - have you ever seen such a liberal and modern society?" And, it's not the first time Israelis have voted en masse for a minority figure in the…Read More... | 4 Comments
The some 60,000 migrant workers who care for Israel's elderly don't receive the simplest of labor rights like overtime pay, guaranteed rest hours and vacation, are often locked into a form of debt bondage. By Jacob Udell While thousands of asylum seekers filled up Levinsky Park to organize a three-day general strike Saturday night, a smaller group of migrant workers, supported by Israelis and the workers rights organization Kav LaOved, took to the surrounding streets to demand equal rights. The workers were migrant caregivers representing the approximately 60,000 workers from the Philippines, Nepal, India, and elsewhere who live with and…Read More... | 2 Comments
In a series of posts based on field visits and meetings with migrant workers in Israel, Noa Shauer and Shiraz Grinbaum highlight the conditions, hardships and exploitation of foreign workers. In part 1, Thai agricultural workers in Kfar Varburg show 'Kav Laoved - Workers' Hotline' their sub-standard living conditions and tell of their exploitative wages and working conditions. Text by Noa Shauer All Photos: Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org We went to Kfar Varburg late last month after Kav Laoved - Worker's Hotline received a complaint regarding substandard accommodations and withholding of minimum wage payments. We met a group of Thai workers at…Read More...
Many in Israel view the agriculture industry as moral and ethical one - one that symbolizes the infrastructure upon which the country was built. However, the reality portrays a much less attentive and heroic attitude toward foreign workers. By Noa Shauer (translated by Allison Rudy) Kav LaOved - Worker's Hotline has recently received various complaints from employers of lawsuits from lawyers representing Thai workers in Israel and abroad. According to an article published on MyNet [Hebrew], the kibbutzim have already nicknamed the phenomenon "the Thai sting." According to the article, among the various positions on kibbutzim, this one remains "the most legal…Read More... | 2 Comments
Just as migrant workers are made invisible to Israeli labor law, their homes are also made invisible. Pushed away in the backyards of agricultural cooperatives, migrant agricultural workers are distant, hidden from the public’s view. By Noa Shauer (translated by Or Glicklich) Walking into the migrant agricultural workers’ living quarters, the first thing you notice is that there is no privacy, no locks on the doors, and no closets or personal storage of any kind. The "rooms" are cramped with metal beds, bunk-bed style, for up to five workers. It's summer in Israel, and the temperature inside is even more unbearable…Read More... | 3 Comments
Liberal Zionism has had 65 years to prove Israel can indeed be both a Jewish state and a liberal democracy. Given its track record, is it time to put the ideology to rest? By David Sheen Imagine if you would, for a minute, that Liberal Zionists have been proven correct: that it is totally possible for a state that accords privileges to members of one specific ethnic group only - Jews, in this case - to be a flourishing democracy. Imagine that Israel is indeed a Light Unto the Nations, and that people from all the other nations who see the…Read More... | 17 Comments
The fact that Israel chooses to base its nursing sector on migrant workers and turn the patients into employers does not mean that migrant workers must pay the price. That is, unless one listens to the rulings of the High Court of Justice. Those who do not appear before the High Court of Justice may mistakenly believe that legal proceedings are conducted there. The sides make claims, at length, and prove their statements. The judges press them, requesting additional evidence. While we inherited the High Court of Justice from the British, this is no House of Lords. Legal proceedings are…Read More... | 7 Comments
In my third post about publishing--or, rather, not publishing--my book about migrant workers and African refugees in Israel, I examine the role of violence in the media and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And then there was a ray of light. In the wake of the May 2012 race riot in Tel Aviv, the mainstream media was suddenly paying attention to African refugees in the Jewish state. My agent called to say that we might be able to ride the wave of violence to sell my book about migrants in Israel. There’s something wrong with an industry that only sits up and takes…Read More... | 10 Comments
In the second post of my three-part series about media and publishing, I examine some misconceptions about the Israeli-Palestinian 'conflict,' and the ways in which the media feeds into a binary that leaves non-Jews and non-Palestinians out of the spotlight. When my agent and I shopped my book about Israel’s migrant workers and African refugees around, we got a lot of those “We love it but it’s not right for us” and “This is an important book that needs to be published. But there’s no audience for this” kind of responses. But perhaps the most common response was, “Where are…Read More... | 19 Comments
We wrote in January [Hebrew] about Supreme Court Justice Yoram Denzinger permitting the deportation of an Israeli boy and his Polish mother. Yesterday at 5 a.m., the mother and her son were arrested ahead of their deportation. This time again, Justice Denzinger refused to get involved. The boy was born in Israel in 2005 to a Polish women and an Israeli man. The boy has no connection to his father, received Israeli citizenship, and grew up in Israel from birth. In August 2010, the mother submitted a request for status on the basis of a government decision stating that children…Read More... | 12 Comments
Israeli officials will authorize 5,000 new work permits for Palestinian laborers. The move comes in the wake of the West Bank protests against the Palestinian Authority and the rising cost of living, and is meant to prop up the PA. The move is also a symptom of Israel’s hysterical reaction to foreign workers and African refugees. July saw the Israeli government grant permits to 5,000 Palestinian construction workers, including those who work in illegal West Bank settlements. The cynical move harnessed a captive labor market whose own economy has been crushed by the occupation—the very occupation it is being recruited…Read More... | 28 Comments
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