Thais in Israel hope for the best

The clashes have not taken a personal toll for most.

May 21, 2010 04:07
3 minute read.


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Thai citizens in Israel are closely following reports on the widespread unrest in their homeland, though for most the clashes have not taken a personal toll, the Embassy of Thailand said on Thursday.

Spokesman Pulin Milintachinda told The Jerusalem Post that the embassy has been flooded with phone calls in recent days, but that for the most part the violence has not affected the families of Thais in Israel.

“We have received many phone calls recently from people who are very worried about what is happening in Thailand and we try to keep them updated with what is happening and assist them in contacting their families,” the spokesman said.

“Most of the Thai citizens in Israel have access to satellite TV and see what is happening in Thailand, and also follow the news online, so they are very up to date. Many of them have called to express their concern and their desire for things to return to normal as soon as possible.”

Milintachinda said he was not able to tell whether or not those members of Israel’s estimated 22,000-strong Thai community (over 21,000 of which are workers and the rest spouses of Israelis) who have contacted the embassy have expressed specific sympathies in regard to the unrest, saying “for the most part people seem to be trying to avoid the tensions [in Thailand] and are really just showing concern for their families.”

The spokesman said he had not heard from anyone in Israel that they had lost a family member in the clashes and that the embassy had not had to contact any Thais in Israel with such news.

He also said that the embassy hasn’t issued any travel warnings for Israelis planning to visit Thailand, saying, “There are many areas [in Thailand] that aren’t affected by the unrest, especially the islands. That said, as you know in Bangkok there is a curfew for today, and tomorrow as well. So obviously that would not be a good place to visit.”

On Wednesday night, the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem issued a warning advising Israelis to avoid traveling to Thailand and telling those already in the country to leave immediately, or at least avoid areas under curfew or currently experiencing unrest.

Israeli tour agencies have reported a wave of cancellations from people planning trips to Thailand, though El Al’s flights to Bangkok are operating as normal, and will continue to do so as long as the city’s international airport remains open.

Kessie, a Thai social worker who deals with Thai foreign workers for the Kav LaOved Workers Hotline, said that for the most part the unrest has not affected the foreign worker community on a personal level, because most of them are from rural areas in Thailand.

“Most of the foreign workers in Israel, I’d say 99 percent of them, are not from Bangkok. Most of them are from small towns and villages far away from the cities and other places where the unrest is happening.”

Kessie said that she has only heard of rather pedestrian difficulties.

“Some of them have said that they have had problems sending money home or contacting family because the banking and economic centers are in Bangkok, but other than that they haven’t expressed any problems to me.”

Tomer, the manager of a sushi restaurant in Tel Aviv’s Azrieli Mall that employs a number of Thais, said his employees had expressed serious concern to him in recent days over the situation in Thailand, but that as far as he knows the unrest has not hit their families.

“They all say that they come from places hours away from Bangkok and their families are all fine. Still, they all spend hours every day glued to the TV, whenever they can,” he said.

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