A call for civil disobedience

The recent determination by the Israeli Supreme Court that jailing illegal migrants for three years is not defensible under Israeli law, will result in their release in large numbers, a process that has already started with the discharge of several dozen of them.

Cynically enough, the state has decided to release them without giving them work permits, in fact condemning them to poverty or else, forcing them into a life of crime and prostitution or dependence on charity. Naturally the migrants will gyrate towards the low income areas of Israel where they will be another burden on an already hard stressed population.

Here is what some of us can do: Private employers and farmers in need of working hands should employ as many of these migrants as possible in order to alleviate the economic pressure on them and on the low income areas in the country. As long as the State of Israel will not develop a policy to deal with illegal migrants in a sensible and humane way, citizens must take the issue into their hands. To release migrants from detention and not enable them to work is inhuman, illogical and a recipe for further deterioration of the already hard hit low income areas, particularly South Tel-Aviv.

According to Israeli Supreme Court Decision 6312/10, the authorities will refrain from prosecuting private employers who employ illegal migrants so the likelihood of getting into trouble with the law is minimal. Just in case, I also call on volunteer lawyers to make their services available on a pro-bono basis to help all private employers with illegal migrant workers, if for some reason, the State changes its mind, as it is wont to do, from time to time.

Israel still does not have a normal policy vis-a-vis migrants although the problem has been around for long enough. The absence of a clear policy makes it possible for the State to literally do what it pleases with illegal migrants who, by definition, are the weakest segment of any population and due to the color of their skin and ethnic backgound are likely to be subject to  discrimination anyway. This is a situation fraught with dangers both for the State which may end up acting against the law and earn international condemnation and the migrants who are at the unpredictable mercy of the authorities.

Fortunately, with the construction of the fence on the border with Egypt, the problem has been minimized and the flood of incoming illegal migrants has been slowed to a trickle. Those that remain in Israel must be treated with the minimum dignity and respect that human beings deserve. They must be given the opportunity to support themselves with their own work. Israel, as an immigrant country, owes that to them.


About the Author
The author served in the Prime Minister’s Office as a member of the intelligence community, is a member of the Council for Peace and Security and was a candidate in Labor’s 2012 primary election for the Knesset list