State Department Human Rights Report Assesses Foreign Workers' Status in Israel

By Gee, John | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, June 2003 | Go to article overview

State Department Human Rights Report Assesses Foreign Workers' Status in Israel


Gee, John, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


Very few Americans, and perhaps even fewer non-Americans, take the trouble to plough through the State Department's annual country reports on human rights practices. This is a pity, because, although sometimes vulnerable to charges of selectivity, a lot of work has gone in to them and they can provide a fairly good summary of the state of human rights within countries. Every year, in foreign ministries around the world, officials charged with defending their countries' conduct must get a sinking feeling as the report thuds on their desks or pops up on their computer monitors.

The 2002 report on Israel (only published at the end of March 2003), contains a section on the position of non-Palestinian foreign workers in Israel, the majority of whom, it notes, come from Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia and work in construction and agriculture. It highlights one particular abuse to which Israeli NGOs, particularly Kav La'Oved (Workers' Hotline) and the Hotline for Foreign Workers, have drawn attention:

"There have been growing allegations that foreign workers were being lured to Israel with the promise of jobs that in fact did not exist. Many foreign workers paid up to $10,000 to work in Israel. Work visas were tied to specific jobs, and quotas to bring in foreign workers were assigned by the government to employers. Technically, it is illegal for manpower companies who provide workers to an employer to receive payments from the worker, but NGOs and news articles alleged that the companies made thousands of dollars from each worker brought into the country, usually as a payment from the foreign partner. According to NGOs, there have been a significant number of cases where workers have been dismissed shortly after arriving in Israel. These NGOs alleged that the manpower companies worked with deportation authorities to deport the newly arrived workers, who were then replaced with new workers, earning the manpower companies more fees. NGOs argued that most workers expected to work for some time in Israel to recoup their initial payments; often they sought illegal employment for fear of returning home with large debts. According to NGOs, there have been cases where workers have killed themselves rather than face this prospect."

Although the report does not go into further details, Chinese workers seem to have been particularly susceptible to this form of abuse. Through their extended families and acquaintances, they are able to scrape together the money demanded by agents who paint a rosy picture of the earnings they can expect to make in Israel. Israeli agents work hand in glove with Chinese recruiters to fleece the workers, both taking a generous cut once the costs of airfare and more legitimate expenses are deducted. The workers normally do whatever they can to avoid deportation, as that would mean returning home with a millstone of debt still around their necks and nothing to show for their efforts. Some have appealed their deportation, while others have become illegal workers, forced into the worst paying jobs of all by their status.

Thais are also reported to have fallen victim to such practices. Many of those who go to Israel are recruited from villages to work in agriculture. In some cases, agents bumped up the fees charged to them from around $2,400 in 2001 to over $5,000 by mid-2002.

In many countries, national trade union federations would see it both as their duty and as advantageous to the home workforce to recruit migrant workers and campaign for their rights, but Histadrut, the Israeli labor federation maintains its tradition of showing only a token interest in the rights of non-Jewish workers. The State Department human rights report states:

"During the year there were attempts to include foreign workers within the national trade union Histadrut. News articles and some advocates stated that the union was interested only in collecting dues and had not acted to protect key union members who were singled out for deportation.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

State Department Human Rights Report Assesses Foreign Workers' Status in Israel
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.