Last week, Israel’s cabinet voted to deport 400 children of legal foreign workers because of what Netanyahu called "Zionist considerations." The children were mostly born in Israel and speak Hebrew, but fail to meet other of the cabinet's criteria. Two days after the cabinet decision, Israeli President Shimon Peres welcomed 230 immigrants from North America, 85 of whom are 20-something-year-olds who intend to join the IDF. While the mostly-African and Asian foreign worker's children are being deported, hundreds of North American young adults are welcomed with open arms.
Why is one group welcome and the other deported? 'Zionist considerations': One group is Jewish and the other is not. This would have been shocking news had I not been fully aware of what Israel is willing to do to Palestinians. In the case of the migrant workers’ children, at least, the ministers seem to have had a lively debate before reaching their decision. The same ministers, however, do not seem to disagree on the need to rid Jerusalem of its Palestinian population.
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions reported last week that settlers evicted nine Palestinian families from their East Jerusalem homes. These policies—deporting migrant children and ethnically cleansing Jerusalem of its Arab inhabitants—are explained by Netanyahu himself: "We want to preserve the Jewish democratic majority that allows us to maintain a Jewish democratic state." In other words, Israel’s racism extends to all: neither indigenous Palestinians nor foreign workers will be allowed to 'threaten' Jewish majority control. This 'demographic threat' is also the basis for denying Palestinians the choice to return to the homes from which they were expelled in 1948.
When Arizona passed its infamous anti-immigrant bill effectively sanctioning racial profiling against many in the Latino community, Americans throughout the country supported economic and sports boycotts against the state until it repealed the law. Students who support such boycotts today or who supported boycotts against apartheid South Africa should consider Israel’s actions. Does racial (and unequal) segregation in the West Bank, the killing of human rights activists aboard a flotilla aiming to break the brutal and illegal siege of Gaza, and the forceful removal of Palestinians from their East Jerusalem homes create a strong case for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel?