It turns out that for all the corrosion of Israeli politics, some brave and decent individuals still walk the halls of power – and for all that Tel Avivians like to think of their city as the more cosmopolitan one, these halls happen to be in Jerusalem.
In my op-ed last week I wrote that the new Infiltrators Law is but one instrument in a newly instigated crackdown on Israel’s non-Jewish residents. These residents are asylum seekers, migrant workers and their families; many of their children were born here and know no other language than Hebrew, but are facing immediate deportation because of Israel’s ethnic immigration laws.
This particular community is being targeted by a newly reformed immigration police. Its members have been cruising the streets of Tel Aviv, detaining migrants and scheduling them either for deportation or for expulsion from Tel Aviv, thanks to the Gadera-Hadera regulation.
Juxtaposed to all this institutional inanity is a letter sent last week by Dr Meir Margalit, member of the Jerusalem City Council and charge of the migrant workers portfolio in the municipality to the immigration police commander:
To Tziki Sela
Commander of the “Oz” Unit
Population and Immigration Authority
Acting in my capacity as councilor in charge of the migrant workers portfolio, I hereby inform you that your men are not wanted in this city.
The migrant workers in Jerusalem, regardless of their [legal] status, are flesh of our flesh. We host them to the best of Jerusalemite tradition, respect them as fellow human beings, and do not persecute them for administrative or bureaucratic reasons.
Jerusalem is a mosaic of many nations, including the migrant workers, and anyone who assaults one component of this mosaic distorts the entire social fabric of the city.
I personally, and many other residents of Jerusalem, will do everything in our power to protect the migrant workers you pursue, and in the tradition of the Righteous Among the Nations – commemorated in our city – we will defend them and give them shelter, because we have studied history and there are certain things no decent Jerusalemite will be part of.
By the ministerial power vested in me by the Mayor of Jerusalem, I ask you to take your hands off our city. It’s not easy to live in as it is, and we don’t need any further hinderers.
Dr Meir Margalit
City Administration Member
Oh, and just as I’m typing this, a text message arrives – “ARRESTS in North Tel Aviv, all available activists to Namir Road NOW.”