Sunday, June 03, 2007

New Israelis

Saw this in the "morning e-papers" - Israel is Our Home

This article brings the story of the children of foreign workers, born and bred in Israel to non-Jewish parents who came to this country as illegal (or sometimes legal) workers. People from countries like Nigeria, Thailand, and the Philippines. From the article:
Recently the Ministry of Interior ran a campaign granting citizenship to the children of foreign workers. To be eligible, the ministry

stated, they had to be under the age of 18, and must have arrived in Israel before the age of 14. They need to have resided in Israel for at least five years and their parents must be in the country legally. The ministry expected 12 000 families to storm the offices asking for permanent citizenship, but only 800 families applied. Almost half of the applications were denied.
I've been meaning to say a word or two about the Israeli Law of Return for a while now, and this is a good chance to say it. I think it's appalling. I think it's terrible that someone can get into this country, get an automatic citizenship plus benefits just because he is Jewish. He doesn't even have to be a believing Jew, or share any beliefs or ideals with me - all that it takes for him to prove his "Jewishness" is some documents showing that his mother, or even his mother's mother were Jewish. That's about it. He can be a no good criminal with zero morals and the worst character imaginable with a record of God knows what, and he will be entered, given a citizenship, courses in Hebrew, money and grants.

Then you have these wonderful people from the Philippines or Nigeria. We all know them - they work in Israel. My grandfather has a (legal) caregiver from the Philippines. We used to have a wonderful guy from Nigeria working for us in housekeeping back when we used to live in Tel Aviv. Wonderful people, both of them. I would preferred to see them receive citizenship here, and be able to live a respectable life. I don't care if they are Jewish or not. All I ask is for them to learn and then commit themselves to the core values of this country, the way I see them. To the the Declaration of Independence (our closest equivalent to a constitution in many respects) which says that Israel
"will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture;"

Anyone who is willing to sign on to that is more than welcome to share this country with me. I don't care if they are Christian, Muslim or Jewish. I do expect them to accept the other parts of the Declaration, the ones dealing with the unique Jewish identity of this country, but that, in my opinion should not be too difficult to live with. Just like immigrants from all over the world live with "With God We Trust" on the American dollar (be them atheists or pagan), or with Sunday being the holy day on any Western country. There are unique cultural characteristics to every country. Israel differs from many by taking hers from Judaism rather than from other religions. This should not mean enforcing any religion on anyone, just living with cultural characteristics that should never be allowed to infringe on basic human rights. If you can live with that, I for one would welcome you here for generations to come.

So, for what it's worth, I strongly believe the Ministry of Interior should stop putting up hurdles in front of these people. If they wish to join us and share our lives here, we should welcome them, Jewish or not. We should feel secure enough within this country's Jewish identity element by now - I think I am - to allow others to join in and help us create a richer, more culturally and ethnically diverse society.

On a more personal note -
We had a lovely weekend here (yes, alas, it is over by Sunday morning). Swimming in the pool on Friday morning, playing a session of multi-player computer games in the evening (the grownups, yes, not the kids), then just taking it easy through out Saturday (which means some work hours for me but that's ok) and then a movie in the end - The third part of Pirates of the Caribbeans. Can't say we care for the movie too much... It was way too long (I was tired to begin with), too many sub-plots and too much "weirdness" all in all. Then again, comfy seats and popcorn, so not too bad either.

1 comment:

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