Monday, July 20, 2009

In support of foreign workers

During Saturday's p
hotowalk we came across a group of people protesting the Israeli government's abominable treatment of foreign workers. The government is trying to get rid of them by making their lives untenable, and the persecution has hit an all-time low this month, with even those with legal work permits being forced out of the center of the country to the periphery, far from potential sources of employment. There are stories of parents taken away in front of their (Israeli-born) children's eyes, of people's visas being cancelled, it's one outrage after another against a population to weak to defend itself.
Yes, some of them are here illegally. Not all, but yes, some. They are here because conditions in their home countries are bad enough that it is worth it to them to leave their families and everything they know behind to come to this country for the "privilege" of scrubbing our toilets. On the whole, they are a hard-working, decent, and highly moral community, and our government is repaying them by making their lives so miserable that they have no choice but to leave. These people are not taking jobs away from Israelis - just go try and find an Israeli cleaner, they're rarer than a two-headed unicorn.
I've done some outreach work with the foreign worker community and as an Israeli the treatment they are receiving now both horrifies and humiliates me. You would think this government didn't have enough to worry about without persecuting those too weak to fight back.
I don't know how much good a protest like this one will do, and I have no idea what the "Clown Army" was trying to accomplish, other than attracting attention (though perhaps that in and of itself was enough of a goal), but I'll say this: I was proud to count myself among them for a few minutes last Saturday, and wish I could do more than simply publish a few photos and discuss their plight here on my little blog.
Click to enlarge any photo (please do, the color is much better that way, it looks way oversaturated in the small version)
Visit Work of the Poet to see where else red is cropping up this week.


Inday said...

You are one Benevolent Soul Robin. You have a tender and compassionate heart for humankind that is pretty rate to find these days.

You are guided by that Great Light to discern what is happening around you. Bless You.

By the way, I found your blog through Dina. I'm grabbing your button so I can link to you, if I may. Thank You.

Good morning from Down Under.

Something is waiting Here for you.:)

Mojo said...

Sadly, the situation is much the same everywhere. Even here in the "Land of Opportunity" migrant workers who will do the jobs the locals don't want -- and gladly -- are subjected to the same treatment. Yes, some of them are here illegally. But the average person doesn't usually ask to see a green card before they assume the worst. All I can figure is that things must be worse than I can imagine where they've come from, because it's hard to imagine life getting any more difficult.

As for the clowns, perhaps that's a statement about the government that's oppressing them? Or simply a means of drawing attention. (Or maybe they just figure everybody gets creeped out by clowns anymore.)

Great post Robin. Sad to know that the problem isn't uniquely American... as if that weren't bad enough.

EG CameraGirl said...

Wonderful post, Robin! This really is a problem happening in many countries right now. It's a case of the "haves" wanting to hold onto what they have and perhaps grab a little more. "Share" is not in everyone's vocabulary, I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

Interesting and compassionate post. The photos are wonderful.

maryt/theteach said...

We have, I'm sure you know a similar situation here in the United States, Robin. Aliens who will do all sorts of work that regular citizens would deighn to do. And Yet we want to keep them out. I can't stand it! We have so much to share... and so many people don't want to share...

Felisol said...

Dear Robin,
bless you for speaking out.
The Norwegians are doing much the same.
It's a disgrace.
Sparkling red colors on the protesters.
Thank God for a touch of humor.
From Felisol

Anonymous said...

The great thing about it is that people are engaged in thoughts about the issue - apathy or fear to express yourself is the worst that can happen - so as long as the people take action - there is hope / little - my lifetime experience says - but hope!/Wonderful pictures!

Dina said...

Good work, Robin.

Leora said...

I do hope they can find a solution (or at least better way of dealing with this) than currently. Sometimes these foreign workers can become very good citizens.

On the other hand, I don't believe any government has the right to "share" someone else's stuff with other people. So if a government can't afford to pay for the health of the foreign workers, that doesn't mean that the middle class should pay for the health of those workers (I'm thinking in the U.S., I don't know much about the situation in Israel).

Jael said...

An important and good posting! I have been appalled by the new Oz unit that has been arresting and pestering the foreign workers and refugees.While we cannot have all the people who try to come here and stay because of economical reasons, they still should not touch people who have children that were born and raised here.
Mind you, in Finland the amount of refugees taken in annually is really really small and they don't hesitate to deport people who have come without permit....

Ralph said...

Red is a color that calls attention NOW! I don't know what the answer is, comparatively open borders or assimilation of all. Happily is that it seems that dissent is tolerated over there, also. We try to tell our children that it is always harder to fight a tough battle for what you believe - but he reward is in not backing down. You compel us to think about what is important...

Kim@stuffcould.... said...

I agree with your compassion, I feel so for the foreign workers in America. They work so hard and are treated pretty bad.

Marites said...

I come from a country that has labor exportation as its main source of income and it's really good to know that someone like you symphatizes with the foreign workers and their plight. These things do not happen in Israel only but also in other parts of the world and the little help that these foreign workers can have is already a big thing.

btw, my RT entry is up too.

Carletta said...

Great post Robin!
It's the same in the US - people doing things others won't and often for very little.
Thanks for bringing to light that it isn't just one country.

Oh, lots of red. :)

Happily Retired Gal said...

Your Photo Walk sounds so interesting ... methinks I'd love to do something similar. Thanks for raising our awareness of what's happening there and encouraging us to consider what we might do where we live.
Hugs and blessings,

Unknown said...

it's sad that we are separated by borders, and that the weak get trampled upon. i live in a country suffering from brain drain because citizens opted to seek opportunities abroad. can't blame them. but it's heart-breaking to see migrant workers come home after being abused physically and psychologically.

it's good to know there are individuals like you who have the guts to speak out and help them out. thank you, Robin.

Martha said...

Wonderful post, thanks for sharing your words and photos.

My Ruby Tuesday

Gemma Wiseman said...

A very moving, disturbing post! Well done bringing this to world attention! I know such humiliation can happen, but knew of no specific examples like this!

Hootin Anni said...

You dear blogger RT'r are one inspirational soul.

My Ruby Tuesday is posted...scroll down below my CATS post. Hope to see that you came for a visit today if you found some time.

Happy day to you.

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

Red mouths and noses—
clowns cavorting in the street
make me smile with joy.

My Ruby Tuesday

Dianne said...

wonderful post Robin, thank you!

the pictures captured the moments - I see the clown army as a parody of the government

there has been a log of ugliness in my town over "illegals" - many of whom were born here
during the election I drove them to the polls since people were threatening them

one of our big mouth asshat township leaders spends a lot of time urging the people to move "them" away from areas where they congregate for day work

meanwhile I have learned that his lawn is done by these very same people, his house is cleaned by these workers as is the office complex he owns
none of his workers receive any benefits, most are paid in cash

it's going to be another interesting township meeting - they always love seeing me

annies home said...

good for you and great pictures as well

nonizamboni said...

Great photos and chronicle of yet another human rights abuse. We are not immune here either and these photos jogged my memory out of my complacency. Thanks.

srp said...

I think we should welcome those workers who come here LEGALLY. However, I am not for rewarding those who come ILLEGALLY by giving them amnesty as this discourages those who want to come to the US and who want to become a full fledged citizen. With the illegal crossings in our country come crime and drug smuggling and the horrible conditions of people smuggling as well.

The US used to be the "melting pot".. people came from all over the world and became... Americans. Now, we talk of African-Americans, Latin- Americans, Irish-Americans, etc.... why can't we just all be plain old fashioned "Americans" and get rid of the labels.

amanda said...

Mojo said it best. Here in Calif we have migrant workers, language barriars and failed social intigration it is a sad situation!

Robin said...

I have to disagree SRP. Why should someone have to give up their heritage to become "American"? (What is "American" anyway? Is it a New Englander? Someone from the Deep South? A midwesterner? They can be as different from each other as an "American" and a foreigner at times.) Why can't they be both proud of where they came from and proud of where they're going? Diversity makes a country great, not forced conformity.

Personally, I hold citizenship in two countries and am equally proud of both (and pay taxes in both as well). Why should I have to forego half of who I am? I'm lucky that Israel, my second country, isn't forcing me to and is happily allowing me to keep my US citizenship.

Jientje said...

This was a well written and beautiful post Robin. Foreign workers are not threatened away in Belgium (yet) in fact our country seems to be the promised land sometimes where you can go and hold your hands open, and get paid for doing nothing. Not all of them , but some DO take advantage of the situation. And a LOT of them do the kind of chores people around here prefer to dislike rather than tackle them. Somewhere in the middle there would be a perfect world...

Daryl said...

I have said this before but I say it again .. you are a mensch! xox

Sara at Come Away With Me said...

It is interesting to see how this is being handled in other countries...I do hope a good solution will be found that can ease the situation in a fair and compassionate way. So easy to wish for, so difficult to accomplish, or so it seems these days.

The Cunning Runt said...

Thanks for speaking out about this situation, Robin. All that's necessary for Evil to prevail is for those good people who encounter it to do nothing.

Maria Berg said...

It is better to do little then nothing, keep up the good work! MB