Sunday, January 10, 2010

Haredim Should Do the Jobs 'Israelis Won't Do' Instead of East Asians

Ha'aretz, in a story about the rejection of a citizenship process request for a (past childbirth age, for what that is worth) Filipina woman so she could stay with her Israeli partner, dropped this bombshell:

A document obtained by Haaretz reveals that the decision reflects a trend of trying to prevent marriages between Israelis and Filipinas.

"Too many Filipinas are going this road. It must stop and they must be removed from the country," the document states.

Before the second intifada, a lot of menial jobs in Israel were done by Palestinians (not all of them, but a good number; obviously Jews did some and Arab Israelis did some as well). One of my memories from living in Israel (on Antigonus Street in Jerusalem) in 1997 was that the groundskeeper was Palestinian. I remember this primarily in the context that he could not come to work for a few weeks after the Mahane Yehuda suicide bombing.

After the second intifada began, Palestinians were (not unjustifiably) deemed to be a security threat, and so it became far harder for Palestinians to work in Israel, though many West Bank Palestinians still do. As a result, there was a menial labor shortage, and Israel began importing East Asian "guest workers" (Thai, Vietnamese, Filipino). Since Shas head Eli Yishai became Minister of the Interior (which controls immigration policy, among other things), he's been pushing for deportation of children of workers who were born in Israel, and of course this latest memo, among other things.

Levi Brackman, a Haredi (I believe Chabad) rabbi from Colorado, notes that Haredim are contemplating selling kidneys to pay for his daughter and her husband-to-be to have an apartment so her husband could study Torah.

This is in fact what the great sages of old wanted when they said that the study of Torah must be accompanied by working at a trade or business to make a living (Ethics of the Fathers 2:2).

Rabbinic leadership is needed on the highest level to change a system that is forcing many in their communities to take desperate steps just to cover their families’ basic needs.


this does not exempt the haredi community from learning a profession or vocation so that they can become productive members of society. Many more haredi professional and vocational schools need to be developed and the societal pressure to become a full time Torah scholar or a teacher needs to be removed.

Of course, there are plenty of jobs in Israel which the (secular/professionally useful) education-lacking Haredim can do.

Agriculture would allow them to fulfill a whole bunch of mitzvot, and can be done in a perfectly tzniut way in today's world. Ditto for caregiving; they'd just work only with the same sex. As for construction; if Rabbi Hillel could be a carpenter, they can do construction work.

Oh, how I wish someone would propose this to Yishai. I'd love to see his reaction.

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