At the end of June, the Israeli government plans a massive deportation of foreign workers and refugees. This operation, apparently, is part of Israel's struggle against unemployment. Government officials, including Minister of Finance Dr. Yuval Steinitz, believe that once the foreign workers are gone, Israelis will take their places, working for minimum wage cleaning houses, caring for the elderly and picking strawberries.
This Saturday, at the sixth annual Latin-American culture festival, a play titled Steinitz Academy mocks this idea. Revolving around the upcoming deportation, the play places the foreign workers and refugees in the government sponsored Steinitz Academy, where they will teach Israelis how to do their jobs prior to being given the boot.
The festival is arranged by La Escuelita (The Small School), a social-education organization of Latin-American workers and immigrants. Like every year, the festival is a celebration of food, dance and music. This year, however, it also includes a cry for support and solidarity from Israeli society in light of the upcoming threat.
Latin-American immigrants in Israel are a thousands-strong community, with some having lived here for more than a decade. Their children study in Israeli schools, speak Hebrew and call Israel home. The solution, according to various organizations established to support foreign workers and refugees, is not deportation. Rather, the immigrants' conditions should be made equal to those of Israelis, as regards minimum wage, pension plans etc. This would lead Israeli employers to stop seeking new foreign workers. Currently, Israel deports and then imports foreign workers every couple of years. This creates and preserves a weak and submissive workforce in competion with the Israeli one.
The festival takes place on Saturday, June 27 at Droyanov garden in Florentin (corner of Hamechuga and Hanagarim streets from 12:30 p.m.-6 p.m. Entrance is free. All income from the food bazaar goes to the children of Escuelita.