Opinion

In Israel, It's 'Begone, Little Gentiles'

A demonstration against the deportation of Filipino children outside the prime minister's residence in  Jerusalem, June 2019.
Olivier Fitoussi

Prisons are supposed to punish people who break the law. In Israel, prisons are used to put pressure on parents. Look what we can do to your children, parents are told, thus migrant workers are advised not to procreate and Palestinians are pressed to collaborate with the Shin Bet security service. The same even applies to everybody who shrugs and says well, at least it’s not happening to me.

In the past, the Israel National Council for the Child would protect the children. Today a child is no longer entitled to a legal defense for being a child. Benjamin Netanyahu’s strange child threatened to harm a journalist’s children, and nobody twitched. It’s normal.

On the other hand, being a Filipino child isn’t normal: He isn’t a Jew. It isn’t a good thing to be a non-Jew in the Jewish state. In an enlightened country, the good of the child supersedes the good of the country.

But we aren’t an enlightened country, we’re the Jewish state. Our Judaism doesn’t protect the child and the Israel National Council for the Child doesn’t get involved because a child who isn’t Jewish isn’t a child at all, he’s an ageless creature subject to the immigration laws. He’s too young for his future to be considered, but he’s big enough to be deported from Israel because of the sins of his parents.

A child is subject to the Population and Immigration Authority. That’s a silly name, the immigration authority. Gentiles aren’t accepted and Jews are covered by the Law of Return. The immigration authority could just as easily be called the Snow and Glaciers Authority. If we took care of our aging parents ourselves there wouldn’t be any need for it. We need the immigration authority because it’s part of the machine sharing the money extorted from migrant workers.

But even those who justify deportation don’t necessarily volunteer to carry it out. Not everybody who supports the death penalty steps up to be the hangman. Interior Minister Arye Dery and the director general of the immigration authority, Mor Yosef, are ardent volunteers. The face of deportation is Dery’s and the hands carrying it out are Yosef’s.

It isn’t the immigration authority voiding children’s rights, it’s them. It isn’t the immigration authority that pulls children out of the classroom and arrests them – Dery approves it and Yosef signs the paperwork.

The deportation won’t be easy. I assume the classmates will object. True, this is just an objection by children, but it will teach more than a thousand lessons about children’s rights.

Dery and Yosef are imprisoning children because they think they’re saving Judaism from the danger lurking in the fifth grade. As far as they’re concerned, a child who isn’t Jewish is a ticking time bomb. Just give this kid five years and he’ll get ahold of a Jewish virgin, miscegenate, and fill the land with little goyim.

They’ll use keeping to the law as an excuse for deporting the children. Quote Exodus 23:9 to Dery – “And a stranger shalt thou not oppress; for ye know the heart of a stranger” – and he’ll slam back with the so-called foreign workers law on prohibiting unlawful employment.

Dery, as we all know, is a law-abiding man. If he lived in Germany in the ‘30s he’d have ratted on Jews because the law is the law and there must be order. As for Yosef, what’s the attraction in deportation to a man who reduced the Hadassah Medical Organization to red ink and didn’t help the Israeli National Insurance Institute get out of its deficits? He told the daily Makor Rishon that the purpose of the deportation is to “preserve Israel’s Jewish character” and defined himself as a “public servant who follows orders.”

This won’t help him. The “Jewish character” is being taken care of by other people, and the day is gone when he could have hidden behind the excuse of “following orders.” The orders he has to follow are in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which Israel is a member. As the convention puts it, the well-being of the child is the top priority and is binding on the state.

But Dery and Yosef say: You want to know our opinion on that convention? Here you go. We piss on it.

Imprisoning and deporting children won’t be forgotten or forgiven. The day will come when Yosef’s grandchildren will ask him what he was thinking when he put a child in prison. Yosef will mutter something about the “greater good of the people,” but his grandchildren won’t buy it – as he depends helplessly on his Filipina caretaker. The grandchildren will know about the summer of 2019 and won’t forgive him.