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Posted on on August 23rd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

I came last night to the Tsavta Theater in order to see Socharei Gumi or “The Rubber Merchants” – one of the earliest Hanoch Levin satires about life in Israel 40 years ago – the time the first generation of the Sabra (Israel born) were coming on their own and interacting with the generation that did create the State. That play was going to start at 8:30 PM and when I arrived I learned that somewhat later, in another hall, officially at 9:00 PM, there will be a benefit for the unwanted Israeli children that became just these weeks famous in the Israeli media – some of these “foreigners” were going to perform!

I saw bunches of little kids, mainly Philipino, but quite a few blacks, running around Tsavta and behaving like happy and normal children and their mothers were there talking among themselves. Then there were already in the hall quite a few good looking early teenagers – all the youngsters were clad in one of two kinds of T-shirts pointing out their station in life – some accepted Israelis – others up for deportation. I decided that this is the real theater of life, but knowing the time table, I decided to proceed with my original plan to see the Gumi Rubber Merchants first, and cleared with the other group to walk in when the show ends – and so I did. Here I will write now about the second event first and will pick up the Rubber Merchants after that.

Ben Hartman wrote in The Jerusalem Post of Wednesday, August 17, 2011 – “Filipino child born here faces deportation.”

“A four-year-old Filipino girl born in Israel was arrested with her mother Tuesday morning in Tel Aviv and awaits deportation at a special holding facility in BenGurion Airport.

The girl was born in Israel and was enrolled in a state run daycare facility but did not meet criteria that would allow her to stay in Israel. According to a cabinet decision made last August, children of foreign workers who did not meet a series of criteria would face deportation.

These criteria stipulate that the child studied during the past school year in an Israeli state school, is enrolled for the next year in first grade or higher, has lived for five consecutive years in Israel, was born in Israel or arrived before age 13.

The child’s parents must also have entered Israel on a valid work visa, and the child must speak Hebrew. Around 400 of the estimated 1,200 children of foreign workers in Israel do not meet the criteria to stay in the country.

This March, Interior Minister Eli Yishai ( Shas) announced that the government will delay the deportation of children enrolled in state-run kindergartens and day schools. The Population, Immigration and Borders Authority said that the decision did not apply to children who did not meet those criteria.

According to PIBA spokesman Sabine Haddad, the decision to arrest the girl and her mother is not new, in spite of media reports that it was an unprecedented move.

“So far there have been dozens of children who were born in Israel that have been deported under the state criteria. The child in question was not in a state-run compulsory kindergarten and was not even in a state-run preschool. Not only is she not a borderline case, she is far from being on the borderline of meeting the state criteria to stay.”

Haddad added that the PIBA has not deported anyone who is enrolled in state-run kindergarten because they are too “ borderline” to the state’s own criteria, but that they would continue to carry out the cabinet decision.

You have it – Israelis do not want to take care of their old – their parents and grand-parents and hire foreign labor to do so. Most of these are Philipino women – some Philipino men. There are sprinklings of other Asians – Nepalese, Ecuador, Vietnamese even Chinese. Most of the women come alone, some with husbands. They come legally via the airport and have working visas.

A different group are the Africans that come on foot crossing the long border with Egypt. Most of them are men – but some families come as well. Interesting – this is the same border that is now in the news as infiltrators responsible for the latest terrorist activities used exactly the same passage as well. These people usually work in menial jobs like cleaning the streets. These are mainly from Sudan – Darfur and South Sudan – refugees from areas of disaster that tried to save themselves by coming to Israel in the belief it is the Holy Land.

As long as these people just work there is no problem, but they learn the language, many of them are talented people – they sing, dance and are open to learning. The Africans have no visas at all, the Philipinos came on a visa but may have stayed over. Technically these people are illegal – the gray class hiding in the cracks in the walls. But these are human beings and produce children – born in Israel the children  are technically Israelis. But Israel has no immigration law – it has only EXPULSION laws.

Take the Mayor of Tel Aviv – Mr. Ron Huldai – he created a school for the children. The Knesset came up with laws regarding the children, but the officials in the government do their best to deport rather then let THESE ISRAELIS just be. The case of the Hartman described girl hit the press and the wife of the Prime Minister stepped in asking, obviously via her husband, that the deportation be stopped. How do you send away non-Jewish Israeli kids that have done no harm while still wanting their mothers to perform work that you know you have no substitute personnel? The Minister of Interior Eli Ishai of the religious Shas Party has no heart for this sort of issues – this became clear from what I learned at the benefit. His Ministry is under attack for many other reasons as well – it is occupied by non-professionals and was at the center of many other problems.

Gila Almagor, the presently reigning First Lady of the Israeli Theater, a daughter of Holocaust survivors, made it clear last night. The behavior of these Israeli leaders cannot be compared to those that caused the Holocaust – but she asked – have we learned nothing from what happened to us? How is it that we cause people that did us no harm to have to hide before us? The laws that already do exist are also not implemented. if someone applies according to above regulations they just do not get an answer – then they may find themselves on the way to the airport without even having had the chance to present their case. Is the causing of such injustice a Jewish behavior?

We saw last night good performances, in good Hebrew, by some of these kids. We saw about 40 of the 100 kids that face deportation right now. We saw a film clip taken by that NGO on Rothschild Boulevard as this injustice is now included in the long list of injustices the protest movement has taken into its large tent. The point is that these kids, that have never known another country, are clearly Israelis and nothing else – how do you deport an Israeli?

The songs included – I got a feeling, I will survive, Poker pace, and ended in Imagine.

In the Tsavta Theater, the people that paid for the benefit sat in the central rows downstairs. It seemed that these were all part of the beautiful Israeli generation. I am sure it included also some that might be of the “tycoons” that were touched by the injustice. So there is hope to Israel – but it is much harder to find at the government level.  The people about whom this benefit was organized filled the side rows and the balcony. As I entered late I was directed to the balcony and enjoyed immensely that company.


Moving back from the above benefit to The Rubber Merchants is an anticlimax. In the play the rubber is obviously the condom and the business is the life of the people – they try to trade in their lives and do this business with one another. 20 years pass – and then what? Did anything change? Not really – life was miserable, stayed miserable, this because they never were ready to give anything – they tried only to take – and there were no partners when everyone wants only to take. Oh! yes! some of the rubber was used up but most of it was still there.

The performers – Tamar Ben-Ami, Roman Gerschkowitz, Ido Zecharia were good and I think Hanoch Levin would have approved. Looking up the internet, I understand that there was a movie version and the play was produced at least also in Bulgaria and Spain.

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