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Expulsion Debate

Yigal Sarna
Yigal Sarna 
Protest against expulsion of foreign workers' children Photo: Yaron Brener
Protest against expulsion of foreign workers' children Photo: Yaron Brener

Let the children stay

Op-ed: Foreign workers’ kids more attached to Israel than the children of veteran Israelis

Yigal Sarna
Published: 03.07.11, 18:04 / Israel Opinion

My daughter, who is the same age as some of the children slated to be expelled, told me: Just write the word “Israelis” 300 times. This is what they are: Israeli kids. However, a column must include more diverse arguments than that, even though the world “Israelis” already says it all.

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We are expelling Israeli children. Or we can just say, with horror, “we’re expelling children.” The term “expelling children” should be horrific enough to deter anyone from undertaking this act.


I am fully in favor of letting all the children stay here and not expelling even one of them. Most of them were born here, and some of them grew up here from a very young age. They are as Israeli as my children and are attached to this place more than my children because their very existence was always in the shadow of danger, fear, and expulsion.


For that reason, they have within them something of the Jew who arrived here before many years; the Jew who knows about persecution and expulsion. They possess refined Israeliness and are clinging to this place. In the future, they are less likely to leave the country than my children or the kids of other veteran Israelis. They love and are addicted to the place that granted them a home for some time now and granted their parents livelihood.


These children of all people, whose presence here was always shrouded in doubt, have no doubts about their desire to live here. To stay here and create roots here. They are young Israelis who have gone through difficult tests. They sat in small apartments, shaking in fear; they studied in hidden kindergartens. They moved from one place to another and were pursued along with their parents.


Later they found a classroom where they learned Hebrew and a teacher who loved them. A rare school like Rogozin and a dedicated principal. They saw both the ugly side of Israel, the pursuers, and the saviors.


Their character was forged in the fires of dedication and good will, and today they are an inseparable part of a place that was originally established for refugees and the persecuted – a place that always prided itself on integrating diverse ethnicities and serving as a melting pot. And they contributed to the cultural wealth and diversity of this place.


After all that, could there be another answer to the question of whether they should stay or be expelled? Can any Israeli imagine these kids being captured, detained, arrested, pushed onto a plane while they’re crying, screaming and chained in order to expel them from this country?



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