Editorial

Listen to the Children Israel Plans to Deport

Students and teachers at Tel Aviv’s Gymnasia Herzliya school stage a protest march against the expulsions of their Filipino classmates, Israel, June 17, 2019.
Ilan Assayag

On Monday evening, Israeli children will be demonstrating at Habima Square in Tel Aviv-Jaffa on behalf of their school and youth group friends. Their friends are children very much like themselves, who were born in Israel, grew up here, attend Israeli schools and youth groups and speak Hebrew. The only difference is that they were born to non-Israeli mothers, most of them Filipinas, who came here legally to care for the elderly and disabled. While here legally, they had children, after which the authorities stopped renewing their work visas.

After many years of a status quo on the issue, someone in the Population and Immigration Authority “woke up” one day and decided to expel these 200 mothers and their children. Some of the women were arrested on the street, at times in front of their children, and forced to sign a form consenting to leave Israel by July 15. Others received deportation papers by other means.

Haaretz Weekly Episode 32Haaretz

>> Read more: Israel must head off expulsion of Filipino children | Opinion 

The Israeli children who will be demonstrating on Monday are not prepared to remain silent in the face of the cruel deportation of their friends and have decided to demonstrate against it. This won’t be the first demonstration they are holding for their friends either. It is a fight that has been going on for several weeks at various schools and at youth groups.

As often occurs, children are again teaching adults an important lesson in the defense of human rights, human solidarity and friendship and are showing them the range of democratic options at their disposal. The children are raising the banner in this fight and are doing so in an impressive, moving and inspiring way.

Many adults tend to think that children are tomorrow’s citizens, who must be educated now to be adults who will benefit society in the future. But the truth is that children are citizens in the present. Granted that they don’t have the right to vote, but they are very wisely showing that democracy is much more than just the act of voting.

It consists of daily actions aimed at improving society, an effort to influence public discourse and standing courageously and resolutely with friends in distress. Children whose lives are guided by values such as solidarity, mutual assistance and compassion will necessarily become adults who embody these values.

These unnecessary deportations must be stopped immediately, and resident status should be granted to the foreign workers’ children who were born here and who are Israelis in every respect. This is essential both for these Filipino-Israeli children, who know no home other than Israel, and for their Israeli friends who are fighting on their behalf. It is fitting to support and join the students on Monday in their fight. If they win this fight, they will learn a lesson of supreme importance: that human solidarity pays off and is definitely worth fighting for.

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