Yoaz Hendel
Children of foreign workers
Photo: Ofer Amram

Don’t let emotions rule us

Op-ed: Just like any other state, Israel needs policy that limits immigration from poor regions

Wisdom and sensitivity – these are the means required when looking at the heart-wrenching images of the foreign children who wish to stay in this country.


First of all, we need political wisdom: We need to look ahead (unlike the custom around here) to the next generation and then make the decision, with a hint of sensitivity. The proper attitude to converts and foreign residents in Judaism emerged from that same sensitivity, yet it was always preceded by the wisdom reminding us that “charity starts at home.”


Our public discourse revolves around emotions. It’s very Jewish and warms our liberal-philanthropic ego, but even then, deep inside, we understand that we cannot allow thousands of immigrants from poor states to flood Israel.


In the era of globalization and rapid mobility, no wealthy state had been spared the phenomenon of refugee osmosis. The poor are attracted to the sources of wealth, even if they are found in other states and continents and across oceans. These are natural laws – the weak wishes to feed off the powerful, and this cannot be changed.


The original sin

This is why there are fences, borders, guards, and immigration laws. The images are not pretty, yet we cannot do without them. There is no state in the world without immigration laws; there is no state that fails to understand that even a desire for Tikkun Olam must be contained within some kind of framework.


The State of Israel is an island of western, democratic wealth amid a sea of poverty, ignorance, and backwardness. This is the reason why thousands of refugees arrive here every month, and this is why Asian foreign workers prefer to stay here at any cost.


In order to survive and maintain our Jewish-democratic character, we must safeguard our demography, which is problematic as it is. We need a policy, and this is where our original sin lies: Instead of setting rules, we allow emotions to rule us and newspaper photos to dictate our future.


As long as our Jewish-democratic character is preserved, Israel can afford regular immigration quotas for foreigners. Yet for the time being we have no policy, but we do have immigration. And when a state is managed without rules, it bodes very badly for the future, even if it seems to highlight our warm heart.



פרסום ראשון: 08.02.10, 18:28
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