Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The Land of Oz

A Jpost article about the efficacy of Operation Oz: apparently, they've deported 700 illegal migrants, and consider themselves responsible for the voluntary repatriation of another 2400. One sentence in the report caught my eye: "As part of their daily routine, Oz inspectors have continued to patrol the country's migrant-worker concentrations, mainly in southern Tel Aviv, to pick up the illegal residents, arrest them and if possible, expel them from the country the same day." (Italics mine).

I'm not sure if this is legal or not, and I certainly think that at the least, it raises issues about due process: but I'm pretty sure that most European countries would love to be able to behave the same way...

Also in Jpost: an article highlighting the concerns of residents in South Tel Aviv's Hatikva neighbourhood to the continued presence of the migrant workers and illegal immigrants (isn't it interesting, how hardly anyone bothers to distinguish between the one and the other?) in their 'hood.

I don't agree with their conclusions, but I sympathise with their predicament. For as long as the government refuses to instigate a comprehensive, coherent and fair policy on asylum, immigration and migration, tensions like these will continue to multiply.

In case you wondered: I think that there should be a consistent policy on migration (for non-Jews), including the right for long term migrants to remain as permanent residents; I think that there ought to be careful thought about the role of migrant workers in supporting the Israeli economy - it is no accident that farmers in the South protested yesterday about the difficulties that they face in employing staff to work on the fields, at wages that allow the farms to remain economically viable; and I think there should be a careful and thorough overhaul of the (non) process managing claims for asylum that exists at the moment.

It's pretty comfortable for unconscionable politicians to bundle all non-Jewish migrants into one amorphous mass, tar them all with the same brush and claim that they are an unwarranted burden on the state (not that the state spends much on asylum seekers, to start off with: in any case, migrant workers give far more back to the state than they can ever even dream of receiving); it is also convenient to claim that they are responsible for everything from the increase in crime rates and the spread of communicable diseases to the threat of intermarriage and the increase in unemployment amongst native-born Israelis.

But it doesn't take much imagination or intelligence to figure out that the reality is far more complicated than this nice fairy tale. It's time to take off the green tinted spectacles; it's time to implement a fair, transparent and just immigration policy.


Adam E. said...

Just out of (genuine) interest, how would you define "fair" and "just" in this case?

Goy said...

On asylum - an effective policy that follows as closely as possible the UN Charter on the Rights of Refugees. It is quite obvious that it is impossible for Israel to have a co-ordinated policy with its neighbours; still, I think it is incumbent upon the state to process all asylum seekers claims promptly and equitably (This does not happen at all now, by any stretch of the imagination). If there are clear guidelines that are being followed, then it would be so much easier to defend Operation Oz. (And, incidentally, people like me would have a sitting target to challenge in the appropriate manner, through the legal system etc) However, since the Israeli government chooses to behave in a contradictory and self-interested manner (and is inconsistent in defining that self interest too!) Oz seems malicious and ill thought out.

On migration - at the moment, it is pretty straight forward for Jews - like you - and Goys married to Jews - like me. I am going to skim over the Palestinian issue here (not right of return - rather, so called 'reunification' issues) because I do not know enough about it to comment confidently.

For migrant workers, it operates in a grossly restrictive and unfair manner. I would argue that long term migrants - 5-7 years and up - whom demonstrate a working grasp of Hebrew, an awareness of the working mechanisms of government, an appreciation of Jewish history, and whom can demonstrate - through their work history - that they do not intend to be a burden on the state should be granted, at the least, long term/permanent residency. And I think this should be tied into the current (grossly corrupt and inefficient) work permit system.

One argument I've heard to counter this is that of preserving Israel's Jewish identity - which, when you think about it, is no different from the argument in any other European country about balancing the need for controlled immigration with the need to protect the country's historical ethnic identity. Fine. So tie work permits up with controlled immigration overtly - a points system, a system based on need, or no immigration whatsoever - but not the grubby unpleasantness of the moment, which at the very least seems uncharitable...