(Cross-posted with Coteret)
Here is the full report, followed by some background:
Tel Aviv: City launches program to prevent relationships between Jewish girls and minorities
Moria Ben Yossef, 23.02.2010
The municipal finance committee decided three weeks ago to give NIS 250,000 [~$66,000] to what it refers as “‘an aid program for immigrant girls at risk”. The program will be launched this month in the Shapira, Kiryat Shalom and Nev Offer neighborhoods. The committee said some of the project’s aims are ‘locating immigrant girls at risk… case-specific family and community invtervention to locate the girls… and locating the appropriate figures in the community to treat the girls.’
The program is aimed to treat up to 120 young women under 22, and is jointly run by the Tel Aviv Municipality, the Absorption Ministry (which will sponsor 75 percent of it), and the World Congress of Buchara Jews
“The term ‘distressed immigrant girls’ is politically correct whitewash for the true destination of the budget,” a senior source in the municipality said. “This is a war against the trend of scores of Jewish girls getting together with minority men and with migrant workers, and then getting into trouble with their families and the families of the minority men, which often ostracise them for being Jewish.”
According to councilwoman Yael Ben Yeffet (City for All), who sits on the finance committee, municipality director-general Menachem Leibe said at the meeting the girls in question belong mainly to the Bukhara community, who get together with criminals and minority men. “When I asked him if getting together with members of minorities is being ‘at risk,’ Leibe replied: ‘For the families that ostracise them it is'”, Ben Yeffet said.
The decision to support the project appears to be the result oflobbying by councilman Benjamin Babyuf (Shas), himself a Bukhara Jew and a resident of Kiryat Shalom. Babyuf approached some months ago mayor Ron Huldai with a request to set up a municipal organization to locate and treat the girls in question. In his request, Babyuf spoke of girls getting “assimilated,” and suggested increasing funding to part-time religious schools operated by Shas, which take up young women meeting with Arab men.
“These girls come from a poor socio-economic background,” Babyouf explains. “They don’t get enough attention. Very often these are unpopular girls whose appearance is unattractive, and the men use this,” he said.
“It’s happening across the country and in Tel Aviv, too, but it’s particularly rife in Jaffa and the south of the city, where the population is more diverse,” said a Shas activists who had been running the part-time religious schools for 20 years and can only be identified as N. “They got out hunting for girls… we’re talking about local Arabs and Arabs from villages coming to Tel Aviv for work.”
“At first they shower them with love and money, they spoil them, and then they take them back to their village – usually after getting married. From our experience we know this is where this Romeo and Juliet plot turns into an action movie. They become enslaved. We had some really hard cases of girls who approached us and we helped them. They were begging to leave but their Arab boyfriends wouldn’t let them.”
N said there were more than 10 part-time religious schools capable of taking care of the girls, but they were suffering from overload and lack of funds. “We’re collapsing. Hundreds of girls are going through this. Girl falling after girl,” he said.
“It’s a frightening thing, the girls also begin using drugs and alcohol,” said Yaffo activist David Machlouf. “About a year and a half ago I witnessed the shocking case of a 15-year-old girl. This Arab guy hit on her, she became pregnant and got an abortion, He took her to his village and they dressed her up in a galabiya (Arab dress), but everyone treated her horrifically, calling her a Jew-Jew. At some point she complained against him so he beat her up really badly. We took her to an organization in Bnei Brak, but later she went back to him.”
“Minority men”, is, of course, the frustratingly transparent euphemism for “Arabs,” and “immigrant girls” (the word used in the piece is “olot“, women who made aliyah) can only be Jewish. It’s important to stress the math here: If the absorption ministry provides 75% of the funding and City Hall provides NIS 250,000, we can safely assume that even if the other partners don’t give a dime, the project’s actual budget is at least NIS 1,000,000 (~$265,000) of taxpayers’ money.
Not all interfaith relationships go hunky-dory, and Palestinian families can get as xenophobic as Jewish ones when a family member brings home a partner from “the other side”. But assuming violence is always the case and needs to be treated through indoctrinating all Jewish girls against Arab boyfriends is about as Jim Crow as it gets. If anyone needs “treatment” here, it’s the girls’ families and community organizations.
More of the same
Grassroots and governmental campaigning against interfaith mingling is, sadly, nothing new: Just a few months ago there was the “task force” set up by Tel Aviv suburb Petah Tikva to patrol the city and break up Arab-Jewish dates, and the London Times had already covered the activities of a concerned parents’ group vigilante gang patrolling the rapidly integrating Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev, intimidating mixed couples.
On top of that, we have the activities of a huge, quasi-paramilitary group called Yad Leachim that goes on army-style”rescue operations” of Jewish women from their Gentile husbands (homegrown terrorist Jacob Teitel boasts working with them for a while, which they deny); and, lest we forget, the insane Jewish Agency campaign about non-Jewish partners kidnapping 50% of the young Jews in the Diaspora.
What’s new particularly frustrating here is the culprit this time being Tel Aviv, Israel’s last and best claim to enlightenment and tolerance (its remarkable – for the region – embracing of LGBT culture is used by state propagandists as the example Israel should be judged by). Tel Aviv is also a city that had seen a remarkable political awakening in the last municipal elections, with new, genuinely left-wing slates – City for All and Yaffa List – winning almost half of the council.
These delegates are probably the reason Babyuf sneaked the funding through the finance committee, and they are (fingers crossed) going to give him and mayor Huldai hell at the next council meeting Sunday.
Meanwhile, just to help them out, call the mayor’s office public complaints number on 03-5218244, or fax him at 03-5216597 (+97235218244, +97235216597 if calling from abroad); full municipal contact list is here. You can also directly call any of the City for All councilmen and women (numbers here), and encourage them to kill the funding at the next council meeting. Whether you’re calling the mayor or the opposition, please remember you’re talking to real people and be as constructive, polite and respectful of their time (and time differences) as you can.
For those of you abroad, Tel Aviv is a proud twin city with
If you’re in or near any of those, drop a letter to the mayor and publicize it online as wide as possible; call talk about it on your radio station; start a petition. Every little helps. And let me know so I can post it here.
UPDATE 24/2: In a statement issued today, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) expressed shock at the racism of the Tel Aviv municipality, as reported in the Ma’ariv article.
Hagai El-Ad, the director of the ACRI, said: “Neither the municipality of Tel Aviv nor any other official body is responsible for ‘racial purity.’ The idea of the municipality interfering in the weaving of romantic connections is inconceivable.”
For further information from the ACRI, contact spokeswoman Nirit Moskowitz.
Phone: +972 3 560 8185