The Foreign Ministry has declared a war on mall carts: The Christian holiday season, including Christmas and the New Year, is known as a record breaking period for local consumer sales. Many Israelis, mostly in their twenties, take advantage of shopping season madness in order to travel and make a killing in the local malls, often working in the country illegally.
The Foreign Ministry which is usually asked to intervene when they get into trouble is making it clear in advance this year: We won't be able to help Israeli detainees.
A memo distributed by the head of the department of consular services for Israelis abroad Amnon Kalmar, called on consular representatives in North America and Western Europe to take steps to minimize the phenomenon of illegal mall carts during the holiday season.
Carts damage image abroad (Photo: Getty Images Bank)
According to Kalmar: "Every year many young Israelis go abroad to try their luck. They are tempted by the adventure and by the promise of fast and easy money, but the adventure usually ends with them being arrested and even deported from the country." Talking to Ynet, Kalmar estimated that dozens of Israelis are arrested abroad every year.
"We mostly get to meet them when they are arrested for working or staying in the country illegally, and then we are asked to help them and get them out of the situation they find themselves in," he said.
"The main problem with the whole story is expectations gap between them and us – they are convinced that we can save them and solve their problems, but in fact, we can't intervene in any legal proceedings against them outside of Israel. The families urge us to act for their early release, but the issue isn't even in our hands. We can't speed up legal proceedings with a local judge," explained Kalmar.
Kalmar said that every year the Foreign Ministry offers detainees consular, logistical and humanitarian assistance and makes sure, among other things that the detainees are held in reasonable conditions and receive kosher food and telephone calls.
Yet Kalmar stresses that these arrests are unnecessary and are harmful to Israel's image: "First and foremost we would like to appeal to the young Israelis who hear stories from their friends, go out to work and aren't always aware of the destination country's laws. After they are arrested, they can't handle being in detention facilities and prisons and they turn to us".
He noted that some of the detainees are forced to remain in prison for over a month. "The people involved are usually good people, who have just completed their IDF service, and it is important that they understand what they are heading for, If you work illegally you could end up in prison, deportation and a situation which leaves you unable to return to the country for a very long time, if at all.
"Our message is clear: Going abroad? Respect local laws and avoid staying and working in the country illegally."
Reminder: No free lunches"Dead Sea products belong on the shelves of the finest US department stores, not illegal mall carts" Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told Ynet. He joined those condemning the mall cart phenomenon and told of the damages caused by the young Israelis' behavior: "Israel invests a lot of effort in marketing and PR and any Illegal Israeli behavior is improper and hurtful to those efforts."
Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman for domestic media, Yossi Levi explained that "when an Israeli citizen breaks the law in a foreign country, he is also hurting Israel's reputation and the reputation of other Israelis who may have to pay the price for his actions – for example in Israel's entry visa "credit rating".
"We would like to remind Israelis that there is no such thing as a free lunch, with the possible exception of the meager breakfast served in a moldy detention cell somewhere."
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