Israeli town launches campaign against foreign workers

Posted by admin on Nov 24th, 2010

By Ilan Lior, Haaretz, November 24

Bnei Brak city hall launched a public campaign against renting flats to migrant workers and refugees two weeks ago, but it appears the municipality actually employs migrants, Haaretz has found. The city employs 10 foreign workers in its sanitary department through the subcontractor Ford Municipal Systems. The municipality, in confirming this, said all 10 had residence and work permits, and that it could not restrict the workforce under its current contract with the subcontractor.

“When we signed the agreement, we weren’t aware I should tell them where the workers come from,” Bnei Brak mayor Rabbi Yaakov Asher told Haaretz. “To my knowledge, the workers aren’t local. They don’t sleep here. We’re running our check to make sure that these worker don’t return to our neighborhoods through the back door. We’ll do what we can.”

If the migrants were working at the municipality because they live in Bnei Brak, the mayor said he would do what he could “with the instruments we have.”

Two weeks ago, the Bnei Brak municipality announced it would take steps against landlords renting rooms to migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers in the city’s Pardes Katz neighborhood. The move followed a call from several rabbis in Bnei Brak for pressure to be put on these landlords. City hall said pressure would mostly be aimed at those who split up flats illegally and rented out rooms to migrants. Flyers distributed in the city called on residents to report on split apartments.

Asked how the city could campaign against migrants while employing them, the mayor said: “We’re acting within the limits of the law. We’re not putting people on buses and sending them away. No municipal inspector grabbed a refugee and took him somewhere in a van.”

The mayor said the national authorities were to blame for the migrant situation. “They’re hanging about our streets and other cities’ streets, a Philippine, a cushi [“Negro”], a Nigerian,” Rabbi Asher said.” It’s become a wave. It’s not natural. They’re coming into the weakest places, just as we are trying to rehabilitate a neighborhood and take it out of poverty. If a state decides that it’s humane, it can find them suitable places. Today they’re just taking the entire neighborhood a generation backward.”

He said that his office had received many complaints from residents in recent months. “I never got so many letters on any other issue. People are frightened.”

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