Most people who worry about the future of Israel worry about threats that come from the outside. They worry about Arab terror and about Iran’s nukes. This new book by Israel Drori is different because it brings into focus a serious threat from within, the threat of the foreign workers.
Foreign workers are permitted into Israel to work. The process, now an industry, sprang up because Israelis refused to do certain types of work that they considered to be beneath them. At the same time, Israelis did not want Arabs to do the work, either because they felt uncomfortable asking them or because the Arabs presented a threat to their security. Most of the work involves house cleaning, caring for the elderly and infirm, and agriculture work.
Foreign workers are not physical threats. Foreign workers do not become terrorists. So what is the danger? The number of foreign workers now in Israel is so very large that it has become a threat to the concept of a democratic state of Jews.
Drori estimates that there are over 600,000 foreign workers in Israel today. Some estimates put that number closer to 900,000. Among those workers, 60% are not legal workers. There are about six million Jews and seven million citizens in Israel. Do the math. One in every sixth person now in Israel is a foreign worker and one in every eleventh person is a foreign worker who is in Israel illegally. That makes Israel the second largest foreign employer in the world. (The first is Switzerland.)
Drori explores critical issues. Especially because many of these workers are illegal, from as far away as China, Thailand, and the Philippines, the state offers them no protection, and they are often exploited. Israel was created on a principle of Jewish labor; this has been replaced with a system that hovers between exploitative and illegal. That is neither the Jewish way, nor an ethical way.