YC, a healthy yet distraught young man recently showed up at my office.
We all hear horror stories of the trials and tribulations of new immigrants.
We have all experienced these stories in our own lives.
However, the story that YC recounted conveyed a new traumatic dimension of Aliya.
YC is a skilled building tradesman.
He contacts companies and offers his services. He speaks with a foreign accent, in broken Hebrew, and manages to get the job interviews because he has the skills to do the job.
Yet on four occasions, when YC showed up for each interview, after he described his skills and after he showed his Israeli identity card to the contractor, the potential employer told him, in no uncertain terms, that contractors today would rather not hire him because he was…an Israeli.
No Jew need apply? In Israel?
Yes, you heard me. Why?
A simple economic calculation.
Many Israeli contractors simply do not want to “pay social benefits”.
These Employers prefer cheap foreign workers, to whom they can pay a lower wage and not have to cover any “social benefits”.
Eliminating these “social benefits” often means that a worker has no rights at the work place whatsoever, and abuses of foreign workers remain rampant. Such practices in Israeli industry began more than thirty years ago, when Israeli contractors “discovered” the UNRWA Arab refugee camps, where the United Nations covers the health, education, electricity, water, and housing needs of Arab refugees,leaving the contractor to hire the UNRWA Arab workers and offer them a low wage.
Such an UNRWA-Israeli contractor “arrangement” fostered a boom in the Israeli economy for many years to come, but with a moral price that Israeli society pays to this day.
Over the coming month, each of the immigrant organizations in Israel will hold their national conventions, beginning with the AACI, the Association of American and Canadian immigrants in Israel.
Perhaps this would be the opportune time for immigrant organizations to discuss the implications of these hundreds of thousands of foreign workers to Israel. These workers take away jobs from Jews who live in Israel.
My elementary school arithmetic was never that great. However, there are 160,000 unemployed Israeli citizens and at least 150,000 foreign workers now in the country.
You do not have to be a mathematical genius to figure out the connection between the importation of foreign workers and the rising unemployment in Israel.
Yet Israel’s powerful private contractors are not alone in promoting foreign non-Jewish workers to come to Israel.
Even Israeli politicians also encourage them.
A case in point: the Mayor of one regional municipal council that comprises twenty three thriving agriculural communities, has made three junkets to Thailand, to actively recruit hundreds of Siamese workers to work in his thriving farming communities. Other mayors have travelled to Romania and to the Balkans, while the cheap worker industry flourishes with labor representatives working in Nigeria, the Phillipines and Korea.
When I asked the Mayor’s spokesperson as to whether the Mayor would make similar visits to immigrant absorption centers, she responded in the negative.
That simple: a new “affirmative action action policy for foreign workers”.
Perhaps the time has come for Israel’s immigrant organizations to remind Israeli society and the decision-makers in Israeli society that Zionism means preferential treatment for Jews.
After all, even the UN canceled the resolution that “Zionism is racism”. At this point in time, employers are actually encouraged by the Israel Ministries of Finance and Labor to hire thousands of non-Jewish foreign workers. Yes, the contractors pay a fine… yet the fine becomes a deductible “tax credit” for the contractors.
That of course nothing to do with the fact that the Israel State Controller warns that building contractors remain the greatest contributors to Israel’s major political parties. The 1995 Israel State Controller report noted with alarm that many of these contractors give to competing political parties.
Jewish immigrants to Israel often feel the brunt of competition from these foreign workers.
“Olim”, defined as Jews who have chosen to live in Israel, are the ones who can combine self-interest with basic Zionist ideology to galvanize the immigrant organizations in Israel to make a stink about this mess and to launch a campaign that will stop the incentives for foreign workers to come to Israel.
In short, let their people go home.