This study analyses the mainstreaming of radical right ideology in Israel. Focusing on the political discourse used to describe the current asylum issue in the country, the article claims that features of radical right ideology are not limited to the discourse of radical right parties, but increasingly pervade the mainstream. Through discourse analysis of parliamentary discussions over asylum, the study highlights the discursive strategies and linguistic properties used in the expression of radical right ideology. The findings reveal the distinct manner in which both party families express radical right ideology; while the radical right discourse is explicit, overall, the mainstream discourse is implicit, with traces of explicitness observed. The Israeli case reveals significant insights into the scope of radical right ideology and the manner in which, through language and discourse, its features make their way through the political spectrum.
This paper examines the public sphere process by which non-citizen children of labor migrants came to be recognized as Israeli citizens. In response to a public campaign, three government resolutions were issued in the 2000s to provide Israeli citizenship for these young non-citizens. Generally, studies of non-citizen migrants have emphasized their deportability and illegality as the primary aspect of the biopolitics of contemporary citizenship. On the other hand, I draw attention to the mass mediated process from which public opinion emerges to set the boundary between citizen and non-citizen. To describe this, I examine the pragmatics of voicing non-citizen children in public discourse. I also describe how legal documentation became the semiotic technology through which public opinion was rationalized bureaucratically.
Shechory-Bitton, Mally, and Dan Soen. “Community Cohesion, Sense of Threat, and Fear of Crime: The Refugee Problem as Perceived by Israeli Residents.” Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice (early view; online first).
The study deals with the concentration of African refugees in southern Tel-Aviv neighborhoods. It analyzes the impact of this situation on Israeli residents’ perception of their neighborhood. Based on a sample of 214 people four analyses were conducted: (1) symbolic and real threat felt by the residents; (2) fear of crime, neighborhood disorder, perceived risk, and community cohesiveness; (3) objective exposure; (4) distress. Distress in the neighborhood was found to be a function of fear of crime, perceived risk, and community cohesiveness. Perceptions of symbolic threat play a much more important role than real feelings of threat or fear of socio-economic competition. Likewise, it was found that African refugees are perceived as a threat to the cultural and national homogeneity of Jewish Israeli residents.
Kemp, Adriana, and Nelly Kfir. “Mobilizing Migrant Workers’ Rights in ‘Non-immigration’ Countries: The Politics of Resonance and Migrants’ Rights Activism in Israel and Singapore.” Law & Society Review 50.1 (2016): 82-116.
How are the rights of migrant workers mobilized in non-immigration regimes? Drawing on an ethnography of human rights NGOs in Israel and Singapore, two countries that share similar ethnic policies but differ in their political regime, this study contributes to scholarship on migrants’ rights mobilization by expanding cross-national analysis beyond the United States and West Europe and diverting its focus from legal institutions to the places where rights are produced. Findings show that differences in the political regime influence the channels for mobilizing claims but not the cultural politics of resonance that NGOs use when dealing with the tensions between restrictive ethnic policies and the expansion of labor migration. While restraints in authoritarian Singapore operate mainly outside the activists’ circle, in the Israeli ethno-democracy they operate through self-disciplining processes that neutralize their potential challenge to hegemonic understandings of citizenship. Paradoxically, success in advancing rights for migrants through resonance often results in reinforcing the non-immigration regime.
After Israel became self-sufficient in food in the late 1960s, farmers started migrating out of agriculture while production continued to increase towards export markets. This process intensified considerably when foreign labor became available. Traditional production theory predicts that foreign workers replace local workers, but the number of Israeli hired farm workers has actually increased since the arrival of foreign labor. This paper develops a modified theoretical model in which farm labor is heterogeneous, so that changes in the number of foreign and local hired workers are not necessarily opposite in sign. The results of the model are consistent with the observation that the availability of foreign labor has led to an increase in the production and export of labor-intensive horticultural products. Farms became larger and more specialized, and this has led to labor specialization, with foreign workers doing manual tasks and Israeli hired employees doing mostly managerial and professional tasks.
This article examines how labor migration is facilitated and shaped within the neoliberal economy system, focusing on the case of Filipino migration to Israel. For Filipino women who seek to find economic opportunities abroad but lack skills, Israel has emerged as one of the most popular destinations since the mid-1990s, since it is a destination in which they are allowed to work as paid caregivers. In Israel, the caregiver sector occupies the greatest part of the overseas labor market, while providing local senior citizens with live-in caregivers at a cheap cost. In investigating the migration flow of Filipino caregivers to Israel, I draw a special attention to the informal operations of intermediary networks and their roles in initiating and sustaining Filipino migrant flow to Israel. In this article, the intermediary networks involve all those who engage in the migration process such as agents/sub-agents, family, friends, and the friends of their friends. In the context of Israel, where a relatively higher wage is assured for foreign caregivers yet where entry conditions require an exorbitant placement fee, the migration is operated through the complementary roles of a wide range of formal and informal intermediaries. Significantly, such privatization of overseas labor recruitment, characterized by a binding system and an overseas recruitment scheme, contributes to producing power to private agencies, enabling them to impose excessive placement fees on the migrants and control the employment. It is within this context that Filipino women are channeled into the Israel labor market, shaping the current migration flow.
Objective: A majority of work immigrants from the Philippines came to Israel to fill positions involving personal and nursing care. Most of them were in Israel during the Second Lebanon War, the Cast Lead operation, and the Protective Edge Operation. These migrant care workers experienced these events no differently than did the Israeli population. The goal of this study was to examine the connections between the Philippine migrant care workers’ exposure to the military operations and the levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), death anxiety, and burnout among them. Methods: A random sample of 147 Philippine migrant care workers was recruited through four agencies that employ migrant care workers. Participants completed a self-report questionnaire. Results: Philippine migrant care workers reported high levels of PTSD, high levels of death anxiety, and low levels of burnout. Levels of exposure were positively associated with levels of PTSD, death anxiety, and negatively with burnout. A significant inverse relationship was found between interpersonal variables (self-esteem and sense of mastery) and the PTSD, death anxiety, and burnout levels reported by the participants.
Advocating research of the “ethnographic present,” the article portrays the recent evolvement of two constituencies in Israeli urban society conceived as new socio-economic-cultural and spatial social “banks”: Jewish immigrants from Ethiopia residing in ethnically segregated urban neighborhoods; the gradual concentration in Tel Aviv’s downtown neighborhoods of authorized and undocumented labor migrants from Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa, as well as asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan. It reports on the growing protest by local Israeli residents, the government’s efforts to limit the presence of “uninvited strangers,” as well as the active response of the unwelcome aliens. I posit that the emergence of these new ethnic enclaves converges with other critical changes in Israeli institutional life. Major transformations in the texture and tenets of Israeli citizenry, its spatial construction and national identity are steadily progressing.
“Black Musics, African Lives, and the National Imagination in Modern Israel,” explores the forms and functions of African and Afro-diasporic musics amidst heated public debate around ethnic identity and national membership. Focusing on musical-political activity among Ethiopian Israeli citizens, Sudanese and Eritrean refugees, and West African labor migrants in Tel Aviv, I examine how diverse types of musicking, from nightclub DJing and live performance to church services and protest concerts, voice African and Afro-descendent claims to civic status in a fractured urban environment. Grounded in ethnographic participant observation, the dissertation analyzes musical and political activity through the lens of “interpretive modes” that shape contemporary Israel’s national consciousness, and which influence African and Afro-descendant experiences within Israeli society. These include “Israeliyut,” or the valorization of so-called native Israeli cultural forms and histories; “Africani,” an emerging set of aesthetic and social values that integrates African and Afro-descendent subjectivities into existing frameworks of Israeli identity; and “glocali,” or the effort to reconcile local Israeli experience with aspects of globalization.
Tracing “blackness” as an ideological and aesthetic category through five decades of public discourse and popular culture, I examine the disruptions to this category precipitated by Israel’s 21st century encounter with African populations. I find that the dynamics of debate over African presence influence an array of mass-cultural processes, including post-Zionism, conceptions of ethnic “otherness,” and the splintering of Israel’s left into increasingly narrow interest groups. Contributing to the literature on continuity and change within urban-dwelling African diasporas, this dissertation is the first monograph exploring dramatic transformations of Israel’s highly consolidated national culture through in-depth ethnography with migrant groups.
Contemporary studies on return migration express a growing interest in the cultural and social dimensions of its economic development. In this article we aim to extend this interest by focusing on economic values returning migrants bring back with them to their countries of origin, captured in what we call the ‘entrepreneurial spirit’. The article is based on in-depth ethnographic fieldwork with Sub-Saharan African labor migrants both in Israel and after their return to their country of origin. Utilizing a Weberian perspective on the connection between values and economic action, we illustrate that even though African migrants work in menial jobs in Israel and very few acquire professional training, they come to utilize Israel as an informal space for the enhancement of a ‘spirit of entrepreneurship’. This spirit contains three valuative transformations: a transformation concerning time (including a valuing of the future over the present); a transformation concerning individual action (replacing the primacy of community with a focus on individual flourishing)-Sahara; and a transformation in social relations (extending trust beyond friends and family to economic partners). These transformations are in line with economic values underlying a capitalist economic system. The expression of these value orientations acts as an important factor through which African countries have become increasingly interlinked and influenced by neoliberal culture. Yet, as the testimonies of African labor migrants reveal, local social structures reside side by side with this imported spirit of entrepreneurship. This hybridity may lead to increased opportunities, but also to feelings of estrangement and frustration.
This article deals with a reform in the regulation on employment of migrant workers which was implemented in the Israeli construction industry from 2005. This corporations-based arrangement replaced a restrictive employment arrangement which tied the employee to a specific employer. The new regulation of work conditions and wages, coupled with a significant reduction in the number of work permits issued to construction, has improved work conditions and wages paid to migrant workers, and made their employment less attractive to employers. The reform also included elements designed to reduce the illegal employment phenomenon and to encourage migrant workers to leave the country at the end of their contracts. However, the new arrangement still restricted the mobility of migrant workers to some extent and had negative consequences such as a significant rise in the broker fees demanded of workers.
The conference is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Please email ISCP@yu.eduwith your name, affiliation, and contact information.
Constitutional Conflicts and the Judicial Role in Comparative Perspective
This conference will explore the Israeli Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on complex and challenging questions facing open and multi-cultural societies everywhere. Because these issues are salient in, but by no means peculiar to, Israel, a comparative perspective will enrich our understanding of how such issues are, and might be, dealt with in other democratic societies.
Panels will address the general question of the value and challenges of comparative legal study, differing conceptions of the role of the judiciary and doctrines of justiciability, and substantive areas of current controversy, including the role of the courts in overseeing national security and intelligence gathering; immigration, asylum, and treatment and status of refugees; and religion in the modern nation-state.
The Israeli Supreme Court Project at Cardozo
This conference marks the launch of the Israeli Supreme Court Project at Cardozo Law (ISCP). Intended to both inform and engage constitutional scholars, lawyers, and judges in democracies around the world, the ISCP is a center of study and discussion of the decisions of the Israeli Supreme Court, one of the great judicial bodies of the world and a court at the forefront of dealing with issues at the core of what it means to be a democratic society.
The central undertaking of the ISCP is the translation into English and dissemination of key opinions of the Israeli Supreme Court. In this, the Project is continuing, and will expand on, two decades of work and over 200 translations by the Friends of the Library of the Supreme Court of Israel. Translated opinions, other relevant material about the Court, and more information about the ISCP can all be found on the Project’s website, VERSA, at versa.cardozo.yu.edu.
This conference, as well as the other work of the ISCP, are made possible by essential support from the David Berg Foundation, which is gratefully acknowledged.
2:30-3 p.m. Registration and Coffee3-3:15 p.m. Welcoming Remarks
This panel will consider the value and challenges of comparative legal study. Why should scholars and judges in one country care what their counterparts elsewhere are up to? Is it ever possible for outsiders to understand the details, cultural meanings, and historical underpinnings of a foreign legal system? What are the settings, issues, or circumstances that make for a successful comparative work?
8:30-9 a.m. Registration and Coffee 9-10:30 a.m. The Role of the Judiciary in Comparative Perspective
The Israeli Supreme Court hears over 10,000 cases a year, has a large mandatory docket, for many of its most important cases is the court of first instance rather than a court of appeal, and has only limited threshold “justiciability” doctrines (such as standing requirements or the bar on political questions). In these features it is utterly different from its U.S. counterpart. This panel will consider such structural characteristics, then turn to their broader implications regarding the role of the judiciary in governance and in society, including the question of whether a Supreme Court leads or follows civil society, whether it is an educational institution, and the sources of its legitimacy.
10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Judicial Oversight of National Security and Intelligence Gathering
Effective national security and intelligence gathering are generally understood to depend on secrecy, dispatch, and subterfuge. These characteristics would seem to leave little room for judicial oversight, which assumes transparency, forthrightness, and deliberate pacing. On the other hand, there is a very real danger of abuse without some sort of oversight and legal restraint. This panel will consider how national security issues differ (if at all) from other issues that come before the courts and what exactly the judicial role should be in overseeing national security agencies.
12:30-1:30 p.m. Lunch (Lunch will be provided for all attendees.)
1:30-3 p.m. Immigration, Asylum, and the Treatment and Status of Refugees
Of the Israeli Supreme Court’s recent decisions, one of the most important, divided, and divisive have concerned the detention of asylum seekers. Issues surrounding immigration and citizenship are hugely important, and hugely contested, in Israel and elsewhere. This panel will examine the ISC’s decisions in this area and consider what lessons can be drawn, positive or negative, for Israel and for the rest of the world.
3:15-4:45 p.m. Religion in the Modern Nation-State
Israel’s Basic Laws designate it as “both Jewish and democratic.” The Supreme Court, and many commentators, have struggled to reconcile these two fundamental commitments. Is it possible to construct a constitutional identity that privileges Jewish culture, history, and religion while remaining essentially democratic? The answer to that question has ramifications for religious liberties in many settings as well as minority rights in general.
This article explores whether the concept of a global care chain is useful in understanding the migration of careworkers internationally. It examines how an affective approach to understanding migration could supplement the care chain analysis by accounting for the overlapping, shifting, contingent and non-linear networks of emotion that arise during migrations. Analyzing carework through the lens of an “affective economy” is more revealing of the multiple experiences of Filipino gay and transgender caregivers in Tel Aviv and New York, Peruvian careworkers in Spain and Polish careworkers in Germany, as but three brief, illustrative examples. First I will discuss what the care chain approach can illuminate about the multiple and varied stories of migrant careworkers and how it may also essentialize or oversimplify their experiences. I will then suggest that the model naturalizes the caring, biological mother and reinforces geographical and ideological binaries such as North/South, winner/loser and domination/dependency. Finally, I will discuss how the care chain model presents a linear conception of time and space, obscuring the overlapping and multi-directional routes of migration that careworkers travel. Ultimately I will argue that an affective approach creates the theoretical language that can help build what Chela Sandoval calls a coalitional consciousness.
Filc, Dani, Nadav Davidovitch and Nora Gottlieb. “Beyond ‘New Humanitarianism’: Physicians for Human Rights–Israel’s Mobile Clinic and Open Clinic on the Interface of Social Justice, Human Rights and Medical Relief.” Journal of Human Rights Practice 7.1 (2015): 88-108.
The present article examines two projects of Physicians for Human Rights–Israel (PHR–IL)—a clinic in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and a clinic for undocumented migrant workers and asylum seekers—in order to examine the tensions between medical humanitarian aid, human rights advocacy and egalitarian political activism. Through the examination of PHR–IL the article argues that it is possible to create a hierarchical synergism between those three modes.
This article critiques policies of deportation and deportability – a technology emanating from three seemingly conflicting rationalities: states’ obligations under international human rights regimes, capitalism’s need to facilitate the movement of labour, and the need to reaffirm state sovereignty. After outlining the concept of deportability, we argue that although justified by state actors as an integral part of asylum and immigration policies, deportability epitomizes the paradox of immigration regimes at a point of crisis. We use Israel and Ireland as case studies to illustrate that migrant deportability circumvents human rights and domestic legislation that hinder the power of the state to deport unwanted migrants. Paradoxically, in both, policies that engender the deportability of asylum seekers are a response to their undeportability. Despite their differences, Israel and Ireland are unusual immigration destinations and quintessential diaspora nations, whose histories of dispersal configure Jewishness and Irishness in ethno-racially rigid yet spatially fluid terms, as illustrated by their citizenship regimes.
Cohen, Nir and Dani Kranz. “State-assisted Highly Skilled Return Programmes, National Identity and the Risk(s) of Homecoming: Israel and Germany Compared.”Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (ahead of print)
State-assisted return programmes (SARPs) have emerged as key components of diaspora mobilisation strategies in countries of origin. Especially in countries where the principle of jus sanguinis underpins citizenship regimes, these programmes have often been drawn from ostensibly national(istic) discourses in order to encourage the repatriation of (mostly highly skilled) citizens residing abroad. Drawing on interviews with public officials and migrants as well as content analysis of primary and secondary materials, this paper examines SARPs deployed by Israel and Germany. It argues that while the discourse and practice within which state programmes are embedded (re-)construct the nation in certain ways that are commensurate with perceived determinants of return, migrants have often rejected these formulations, underscoring instead a range of neglected personal and professional return-oriented risks. The paper’s main contribution lies in better clarifying the links between highly skilled return migration policy, national identity and migration determinants and uncovers the diverging articulations of return used by state and migrants alike.
Israel’s heated public debate over the socio-political implications of increasing demographic diversity plays out with special prominence in Tel Aviv, home to large minority citizen populations and a destination for foreign workers and refugees from Asia and Africa. The city’s New Central Bus Station, or tachanah merkazit, is a transit hub and commercial complex in which multiple ethnic groups enact aesthetic and cultural dimensions of Israeli urban and national identity in flux. This paper presents a sensory ethnography of the tachanah: sonic and musical expressions of “local” and “global” Israeliness are analyzed against a backdrop of near-constant motion and transit. The somatic and ideological dimensions of movement enable Jewish Israelis, minority citizens and foreigners to assimilate sounds of culture within the tachanah at deeply-felt, personal levels. The tachanah’s sonic activity is inherently political, having the potential to impact collective identity and civic reality in Tel Aviv and across Israel
This article critically analyses cultural diversity policy in Tel Aviv–Jaffa in relation to non-Jewish labour migrant communities and to Palestinian citizens of Israel residing in Jaffa. It focuses on recent incorporation of cultural diversity into city policy in its ‘City Vision’ and ‘Global City’ initiatives and in three specific areas (festivities, libraries and museum of city history). The article argues that despite the introduction and initial institutionalization of cultural diversity in Tel Aviv, there are unresolved contradictions when city policies encounter the ethnocratic boundaries set by Israel’s policies.