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migrant workers

  • Israeli reality TV could not be further from reality

    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…

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  • Denied basic labor rights, migrant caregivers take to the streets

    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…

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  • Home Field: Visiting agricultural workers in Israel, part 1

    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…

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  • Foreign workers take exploitative employers to court

    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…

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  • Improper residence: The squalid conditions of Israel's migrant workers

    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…

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  • Liberal Zionism at 65: Fantasy and reality

    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…

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  • When it comes to migrant workers, Israel's High Court is all High-Level Babble

    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…

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  • Violence sells: When the media profits off the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

    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…

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  • Media misconceptions: Is the conflict really about Jews vs. Arabs?

    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…

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  • Young Israeli boy, non-citizen mother arrested ahead of deportation

    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…

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  • Thousands of new work permits for Palestinians only serve the status quo

    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…

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  • South Tel Aviv stories: Some children lead paperless lives

    Angie Robles, a 52-year-old migrant worker from the Philippines, recently caught her 15-year-old grandson M. smoking. While it seems like a normal act of teenage rebellion—and a small one at that—Robles says it was a sign that her grandson has lost all hope. When Robles confronted M. about his smoking, she explained to him that she felt it was a step down the wrong path. His answer, according to Robles: “What future will I have with this situation, with the deportation?” Robles left Laguna, a province next to Manila, in 1987 for Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Her sister…

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  • Forgotten deportees: Israeli-born children of migrant workers

    While Israel’s current campaign to deport some 700-1500 South Sudanese asylum seekers made headlines around the world, the mainstream media has neglected another ongoing expulsion. Originally published in The Daily Beast's Open Zion. Since March of 2011, the state has been arresting and deporting the Israeli-born children of migrant laborers along with their parents. In the past 16 months, over 90 families have been expelled. Many arrived on state-issued work visas and lost their legal status due to a policy that forbade foreign workers from having and keeping babies in the country—a policy that was struck down by the Israeli Supreme Court…

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