A child of Nigerian parents living in Tel Aviv and facing expulsion from Israel
A child of Nigerian parents living in Tel Aviv and facing expulsion from Israel Photo by Tali Meir
Text size

"This is a reasonable and balanced decision," the prime minister said yesterday after deciding to deport 400 children of migrant workers. But he would have done better to call the decision foolish and cruel.

He also said: "The decision was influenced by two primary considerations - the humanitarian and the Zionist." In our naivete, we thought they were one and the same, but it turns out these are two separate, and even contradictory, considerations.

And in truth, the Zionism of cabinet members like Benjamin Netanyahu, Eli Yishai, Avigdor Lieberman and Yaakov Neeman is not characterized by humanitarianism as such. As for the other consideration, we will continue to fight them over our Zionism.

You don't show off an unfinished project, and you certainly don't let a fool carry out the project in its entirety. The fools in the cabinet decided to let 800 children of migrant workers remain in the country - but took the opportunity to deport 400. As though they hadn't fully absorbed the rule that applies to those taking on a good deed: If you've already begun doing good, finish the job. But now the cabinet will be remembered for its violation of a "thou shalt not" and not its fulfillment of a "thou shalt."

This kind of thing is not done. You don't deport children who were born here and grew up here, who are perched on the threshold of kindergarten, who have no other country, who have no other language, who have no other friends.

It's foreign considerations that are uprooting and exiling foreign workers from here, those whose strength has been consumed and whose hopes have been dashed.

They will arrive tomorrow, the new migrant workers, and they, too, will be exploited before being banished - as long as the recruitment agencies make a mint and tithe the ministers and their friends.

But the highest marks for the most despicable act will go to two members of Labor: Avishay Braverman, who voted in favor of the deportation, and Isaac Herzog, who abstained. Labor ministers retain the talent of uniting for evil, to act as a fig leaf. Except that the fig leaf has become so tattered from overuse that the Bravermans and the Herzogs end up becoming the very nakedness they sought to conceal, tools of the cabinet. Had they voted differently, the proposal would have been voted down.

In the past year, I joined Braverman, Herzog and Limor Livnat - another abstainer - in a few events supporting the migrant workers' children. "They won't be deported," they vowed. "We will fight until the last moment." That moment arrived yesterday, and Gideon Sa'ar was the only one who stuck to his word.

I won't forgive myself for giving in to the temptation to believe them; what happened to make me deviate from my traditional skepticism? If we are ever again invited to share the same stage, I won't be there.

Don't make the lives of the decision makers easier. If any of you know children who are candidates for deportation, take them into your homes, hide them. Let the representatives of the law look for them in the attic, in the basement, in the closets, under the beds; let the authorities tear them from your arms. Maybe you won't succeed in averting the evil decree, but this is how human beings are supposed to act. A few years down the road, they become Righteous Gentiles.