Esther Ikafa
Photo: Yaron Brener

Oscar-winners fight deportation

Girl from Bialik-Rogozin School, which was focus of Oscar-winning documentary, begs to be allowed to remain in Israel. 'I speak Hebrew, dream in Hebrew, and read in Hebrew, but even I don't meet demands of Interior Ministry,' she tells protesters

Some 500 people gathered at Tel Aviv's Meir Park Friday to protest the deportation of the foreign workers' kids.


Among the families and activists from the Foreign Workers' Hotline, 12-year old Esther Ikafa, of Bialik-Rogozin School, could be found. The school and its mainly foreign students was the focus of a documentary that won an Oscar this week, 'Strangers No More'.


"This was a very happy week for me," she told the crowd from a makeshift stage. "The film I participated in won an Oscar and brought respect to Tel Aviv and Israel."


Esther is also a girl scout, and she told those gathered about donning a uniform twice a week to travel "among the landscapes of our country".


"But the Interior Ministry has other plans for me. I speak Hebrew, dream in Hebrew, and read in Hebrew, but even I don't meet the demands of the ministry and my status is uncertain. Let us stay here, we have no other country," she said.


Among the protesters were also activists from the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Physicians for Human Rights, and the Israeli Children Organization.


Actress Gila Almagor, also present at the protest, said that the kids had done nothing wrong. "We must give them residential status in the State of Israel. I have no doubt that we will be blessed with 400 wonderful citizens. If the interior minister does not rescind his decision I will do everything to hide children and you are all my witnesses," she said, eliciting applause.


But the protest was interrupted by 30 activists from southern Tel Aviv who were protesting in favor of the deportation. They called out, "No more baby visa" and "Southern Tel Aviv is Jewsih".


One of the protesters, Miriam Biton, said, "I was born and raised in Shapira neighborhood and there is murder and theft there. Kids are afraid to walk the streets. The refugees fight with us. I want to see them try to live in Shenkin." Biton was referring to a street in central Tel Aviv.


Clashes soon broke out between protesters on both sides, and the police were forced to intervene.



פרסום ראשון: 03.04.11, 14:46
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