Editorial |

Ayelet Shaked, Don't Deport This Israeli Child

Haaretz Editorial
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Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked last August
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked last AugustCredit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Haaretz Editorial

“You started the naturalization process because of marriage, not widowhood.” That’s what the Interior Ministry told Kultida Lev, a Thai national who is due to be deported together with her 7-year-old Israeli daughter, Danielle, following the death of her Israeli husband.

The husband, Shmulik Lev, is the father of their child. He died of a heart attack at age 52, before Kultida had completed her naturalization process. The Interior Ministry is sharing the family’s sorrow in a novel way – by halting the process and issuing a deportation order.

“It never occurred to me to boycott Israel. Until Arkansas told me I couldn’t”

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The couple met in Thailand when Shmulik was a tourist there. They got married, obtained a visa to bring Kultida to Israel and started the procedure of “naturalization by dint of marriage.” Kultida got pregnant and gave birth to her daughter in Israel.

When Danielle was three, Shmulik died of a heart attack. When Kultida tried to renew her residency visa on the grounds that she was in the midst of the naturalization process, the Interior Ministry informed her that the process had been halted. After her temporary residency in Israel was canceled, so too were all her benefits, such as health insurance, widow’s pension and child allowance.

In January 2020, Kultida received an official order requiring her to leave the country by July 2020, after Danielle finished first grade. But then the coronavirus erupted, so Kultida requested an extension on the grounds that Danielle’s schooling had been disrupted. The Interior Ministry refused, so since then, Kultida has been living here illegally.

Last month, Jerusalem District Court Judge Anat Singer rejected Kultida’s request to delay the ministry’s order so she could further appeal it, and ruled that there was no reason to freeze the ruling by an Interior Ministry tribunal ordering her deportation.

It’s hard to imagine a more blatant case of callousness. Danielle is an Israeli child who was born in Israel to an Israeli father. She lost her father, and now she is being asked to uproot herself from her country, her language and her family to remain with her mother, who is being deported from Israel.

There is no satisfactory reason for the decision to deport Kultida. Not only was she widowed at a young age and left as a single mother with a young daughter, but the country of which both her husband and her daughter are citizens has decided to deport her solely because she isn’t Jewish. The desire to preserve pure Jewish bloodlines has driven Interior Ministry officials mad.

Horrifically, the ministry is headed by a longtime persecutor of foreigners, Ayelet Shaked. What are the chances that the protests by hundreds of students and parents at the Bikurim school in Tel Aviv, where Danielle studies, and by thousands of others who identify with her, will reach her ears and persuade her to correct this terrible injustice?

The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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