africans - Moti Milrod - December 14 2010
Asylum-seekers in southern Tel Aviv, December 14, 2010. Photo by Moti Milrod
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The streets of south Tel Aviv look like a slave market in the morning: Hundreds of dark-skinned foreigners waiting on street corners, quietly, until someone stops and offers them a day's work.

They almost all have cell phones, which can ring at any moment with an offer of work at miniscule wages.

Why would you want to put them on a plane and send them home just now?

In today's modern economies, where capital, goods and services move freely based on supply and demand, why shouldn't there also be free movement of labor? But that applies mostly to temporary workers with special skills who come for limited periods.

Israel's migrant workers are different. They come mostly on tourist visas, and stay long after they've expired. Sometimes they cross the border illegally from Egypt.

The result of the large number of illegal foreign workers is the creation of a lower class who receive miserable wages and face harsh working conditions. They are the victims.

The Israeli economy is addicted to these foreign workers, and only a coordinated state plan can reduce their numbers. Otherwise this class division will be perpetuated and foreign workers without basic rights will continue to push Israelis out of the job market and into unemployment, poverty and welfare.