Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Keep working, but make yourself invisible.

Racism. It's not just racism against Arabs, but it's racism writ large that is oozing from the pores of the Israeli state.

I have come to see more and more that trying to maintain the 'Jewish' character of the state of Israel can only lead to racism. By definition, if you aren't a Jew, you don't belong in the 'Jewish' state of Israel. Foreign laborers are seeing the effects of this Zionist idealogy, which permeates the government, courts, and seemingly much of the public. The NY Times reports:
At least 250,000 foreign laborers, about half of them illegal, are living in the country, according to the Israeli government. They include Chinese construction workers, Filipino home health care aides and Thai farmhands, as well as other Asians, and Africans and Eastern Europeans, working as maids, cooks and nannies.
Prime Minister Netanyahu made his position as clear as crystal:
We have created a Jewish and democratic nation, and we cannot let it turn into a nation of foreign workers,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a conference of the Israel Manufacturers Association in January.
Israel is trying to have it's cake and eat it too. It's something I saw clearly living in San Diego, near the US-Mexico border. Israel and California want the laborers (they need the laborers), but they refuse to treat the workers like human beings. They need the laborers to be front and center in the labor force, but then want them to exist on the periphery when it comes to society at large. Being invisible would be most preferable.
...right-wing politicians have heightened accusations that foreign workers are stealing Israeli jobs and threatening the nation’s Jewish character, an assertion many on the left dismiss.

“Saying foreign workers are diluting the Jewish state is racism,” said Nitzan Horowitz, a member of the Israeli Parliament and a critic of the foreign-worker policy. “On one hand, Israel is bringing them here and making money off their backs, and on other they face all sorts of harassment.”

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