Sunday, July 18, 2010

Protecting immigrant rights

American readers are no strangers to the plight of migrant workers (often referred to as "illegal immigrants" or simply "illegals"). Many workers in Israel, usually people who take care of our elders, clean our homes, build new ones and help raise our crops, are subject to persecution as well.

Unlike the United States, however, children of such workers are not immune from harsh treatment, including the threat of deportation, even if they were born in the country. Thus, thousands of children, who were born in Tel Aviv (and elsewhere in the country), who have acquired Hebrew as their native language, who have never visited any other country, are now being forced to "return" to places they have little to no attachment to.

Yesterday I attended a small demonstration in southern Tel Aviv, one of the poorest areas of the city, where many immigrants, both "legal" and "illegal" live in dire circumstances. Just a few days ago, my father and I happened to have seen Jeremiah, a documentary focusing on the "legal" (i.e., Jewish) component of that equation. I have just learned that the director of this film, Eran Paz, has one the Jerusalem Film Festival prize for best director of an Israeli documentary.

Photos from last night's demonstration are available here:

Thursday, July 8, 2010


My mother quite effortlessly perpetuates the stereotype of ... Okay, let me start over.

My mother had heard of a sale at a popular local optical store chain: buy a pair of prescription lenses for NIS 99 (ca. $25), get a frame (limited selection) for free. So naturally, we went, and I got myself a pair of readers to supplement my progressive lens pair of glasses from Philly.

Since that was a success, she suggested I get yet another pair, this time for distance. Since I wasn't crazy about the frames offered at the first location, we went to a different one today. When we got there, the Russian-accented salesperson we first encountered asked us to wait for a moment. Then she calls, "xamudi!" – which in Hebrew means 'cutie!' 

I asked my mother, "was she talking to me?" We both were puzzled. Then a smily white-cloaked optometrist with a slightly Arabic-accented Hebrew comes out and tends to us. I then realized his name tag read ħammu:di, which in Arabic is a common hypocoristic of muħammad.

I guess this story really should have a point. But whatever point I point out, it is likely to sound corny, so just draw your own conclusions. Or don't.

הארץ Haaretz

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