Daily Israel Report

How Would Liberals Feel if Infiltrators Lived Near Them?

'Ramat Aviv First' project checks if liberal Israelis would still support African infiltrators if they came to live in their neighborhood.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 12/15/2010, 5:44 PM / Last Update: 12/15/2010, 5:40 PM

Flash 90

 

MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) and residents of Tel Aviv's HaTikvah neighborhood are leading a new project called "Ramat Aviv first." The idea behind it is to bring illegal infiltrators to live in Ramat Aviv, the posh northern section of Tel Aviv where many of Israel's rich and famous reside.
 
Money is being collected in order to rent rooms for the infiltrators in Ramat Aviv and other upper-class neighborhoods. The project's initiators want to see if the upper-crust Israelis - who are generally more liberal and leftist in their politics - continue to support unchecked immigration if the immigrants become their direct neighbors. Some suspect that the support for infiltrators' rights will stop being as trendy as it is now if the infiltrators stop making their homes exclusively in lower-class neighborhoods.
 
Activists from HaTikvah, Yad Eliyahu and other lower income areas of greater Tel Aviv claim that the large influx of infiltrators has brought with it drugs, drunkenness, crime, attacks against small children and a plethora of other social woes. The Knesset's special committee on the foreign labor problem reached similar conclusions, and its chairman, MK Ya'akov Katz (Ketzaleh), has recommended the appointment of a minister who would deal with the problem as a full time portfolio.
 
The new project's initiators concluded that it is unfair to dump these social problems on weaker strata of the population, and that the upper-class liberals should be made to provide a personal example by taking in the infiltrators.  
 
"It is time to try and bring even a small part of the infiltrators and foreign workers from the struggling neighborhoods in southern Tel Aviv to the neighborhoods where 'the fighters for civil rights' reside," they wrote.
 
The initiators plan to start small, by bringing several dozen foreign workers to a certain (unnamed) center of Ramat Aviv. "In Ramat Aviv, children are taught in their schools that caring for individuals' rights is of utmost importance. It is time to take these ideas from theory to practice." 
 
Monthly rent for an average four-room apartment (in Israel, unlike the US, the kitchen is not included in the number of rooms - ed.) in central Ramat Aviv is 6,000 shekels, including taxes, the planners found. Each such apartment can hold 15 workers, they estimate, and these workers would still be much better off than their counterparts in southern Tel Aviv. The planners therefore intend to start with ten apartments, that will hold 150 foreign laborers.    
 
This could turn into a "permanent outpost," they say.
 
The pilot project will begin once 180,000 shekels are collected for three months' rent. At a later stage, they say, the project's size could be doubled or even tripled.