Born in Israel, hundreds of Filipino children risk expulsion

Filipino children carry a banner which reads in Hebrew "We don't have another country" during a protest against deportation in Tel Aviv on August 6, 2019. (AFP / Gil COHEN-MAGEN)
Updated 09 August 2019

Born in Israel, hundreds of Filipino children risk expulsion

  • Many of the 28,000 Filipinos in Israel arrived to work as caregivers and domestic helpers
  • Some 600 families could now face expulsion over a loss of residency status

TEL-AVIV: In the heat of the summer, Sivan Noel and her sister Michal say they rarely venture outside of their family’s small, basement apartment in Tel Aviv.
The two girls, 11 and nine, risk being deported to the family’s home country, the Philippines, even though they’ve never set foot there.
“I was born here,” said Sivan, the 11-year-old.
“It’s really unfair that after being born here and having a family, friends, school and studies, we are being told that... we now must leave to a place that we hardly know.”
They and hundreds of other Filipino families in Israel are caught up in a legal battle that has put them at risk of deportation.
Many of the 28,000 Filipinos in Israel arrived to work as caregivers and domestic helpers, but according to the United Children of Israel (UCI) association, some 600 families could now face expulsion over a loss of residency status.
The issue holds particular resonance in Israel, where there are long-term fears about maintaining a Jewish majority in the country founded as a national homeland for Jews in the wake of the Holocaust.
But children such as Sivan and Michal pose a special case.




Filipino children and their mothers carry a banner which reads in Hebrew "release Filipina mother and her son" during a protest against deportation in Tel Aviv on August 6, 2019. (AFP / Gil Cohen-Magen)

They were born in Israel, attend school in the country, speak and write on social media in Hebrew and dress in the same tank tops, shorts and sandals as other children in Tel Aviv.
Their mother, Ramela Noel, arrived legally in the country in 2003 as a domestic worker.
She later met her husband, who is also Filipino, and became pregnant with Sivan, the oldest of the two girls.
She then faced a heartbreaking choice: either leave the country or send her child to the Philippines in order to maintain her visa, as spelled out in her employment contract.

Brought to Israel legally
Noel said she initially chose to remain and send her child back to the Philippines to live with her sister, Sivan’s aunt.
“When I gave birth to Sivan and they put her on my tummy, that’s when I started crying,” the 39-year-old said, the memory again bringing tears to her eyes.
She couldn’t bring herself to send the baby away, so the family began to live clandestinely.
The two girls have no legal status and their parents cannot renew their work visas without risking expulsion.
Noel and her husband scrape out a living cleaning homes.
“Every time we go out on the street — the fear that I have every time I go on the street — it’s terrifying,” she said.
This week, a mother and her 13-year-old child were detained in southern Tel Aviv ahead of a planned deportation.
Since the start of the year, members of 36 families, 24 of them Filipino, have been arrested.
They were released on the condition they leave by August 1, but no one has been deported for now, according to UCI, created to help those involved.
The adults were arrested for being in the country illegally, but their children were allowed to finish the school year, according to a statement from Israel’s immigration authority, which declined an interview request.
With the school vacation underway, the threat of deportation is back.
“Israel encouraged them to come. There are recruitment services abroad for them,” said Sigal Rozen, one of the founders of the Israeli organization Hotline for Refugees and Migrants.
Filipinos were brought to Israel to fill a labor shortage.
One member of UCI who spoke on condition of anonymity said she cared for the elderly for nine years.
“What do you expect me to do in nine years? Not to have sex, not to have love?” she said.




Filipino children and their mothers carry a banner which reads in Hebrew "release Filipina mother and her son" during a protest against deportation in Tel Aviv on August 6, 2019. (AFP / Gil Cohen-Magen)


“We can’t send children away”
In 2006 and in 2010, while facing criticism to act, Israeli authorities granted permanent visas to nearly 5,000 people, said Rozen.
Catholic church heads have joined condemnations of the deportations, asking in a statement: “Does this policy respect the contribution of these women’s labor to the Israeli society?“
Filipinos recently held a protest in Tel Aviv, supported by Israelis.
“We can’t send children away,” said 83-year-old Drora Lustiger, who said her husband survived the Holocaust.
Nearby, separated from the crowd by a security cordon, around a dozen counter-protesters called for the deportations to move ahead.
“I’m concerned about the majority of the Jewish in Israel,” said Sigal Sudai.
“In many other countries in the world, when their visa ends, they go back to their land.”
But Sivan and her sister, who have never traveled, say they consider Israel home.
“It would feel like I’m in a foreign place, a place that I don’t know,” said Sivan.
“Maybe I will meet new friends or have new memories there, but it will not make me forget that I have friends here, and a family.”

 


Grand Egyptian Museum symbol of Japan cooperation

Updated 20 August 2019

Grand Egyptian Museum symbol of Japan cooperation

  • The museum will house thousands of monuments and artifacts including mummies

CAIRO: The Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM), set to open in 2022, is already a beacon for future Egyptian prosperity.

Built to showcase Egypt’s civilization and heritage, the museum will house thousands of monuments and artifacts including mummies, as well as housing a very important restoration center which will help in preserving Egyptian Pharaonic heritage.

It is hoped the GEM will boost tourism, and act as beacon of a new, forward-facing nation in the aftermath of several years of political upheaval, and centuries of losing its treasures overseas.

Egypt began work on the museum in 2008 at a cost of approximately $550 million, with the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities funding $100 million, with the remainder facilitated through a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), in addition to local and international donations.

Covering the third phase of the build, Japanese support was not limited to the loan, but extended to the financial and technical support of the museum’s preservation and conservation center. 

Moreover, Japan currently supports the museum’s archaeological database and the team chosen to cultivate and manage it. 

The JICA also organizes a program that holds several restoration training sessions in both Egypt and Japan, in partnership with the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties. 

Egypt’s Ambassador to Japan Ayman Kamel talked about the details of Japan’s participation in constructing the GEM.

“This project, which was launched years ago, is a success story in Egyptian-Japanese bilateral relations,” Kamel said.

BACKGROUND

It is hoped the Grand Egyptian Museum will boost tourism, and act as beacon of a new, forward-facing nation in the aftermath of several years of political upheaval, and centuries of losing its treasures overseas.

He added that Japan contributed in supporting one of the Egyptian centers specializing in monument restoration, providing “unmatched” Japanese eco-friendly materials and technology. 

Kamel predicted that following its inauguration, the GEM would be a source of pride not only for Egypt and Japan but also for the whole world.

“The final inauguration will take place in 2022 when all construction operations are completed.”

Japan’s Ambassador to Egypt Masaki Noke said the GEM was a “huge project that transfers heritage to the coming generations” and hailed Egypt for carrying out “this huge archaeological project.” 

Noke added that the Japanese were very happy to participate in this huge achievement which he considered of paramount importance “not only on the economic level but also on the human level in general.”

Around 42,000 Japanese tourists visited Egypt in 2018, adding to an increasingly large community of Japanese residents, and a sizable presence of archaeological missions working in the country.  

Egyptian archaeological expert Ahmed Kadry told Arab News that there are currently 10 Japanese archaeological missions in Egypt with universities and institutions.

Kadry said that the GEM’s inauguration in 2022 will change the perspective of museum tourism the world over, and hailed to work of Japanese and Egyptian archaeologists for their work in the field of diagnostic examination of monuments by using hand-held devices called XRFs, a primary examination machine using X-rays.

He added the results of such examinations provided useful information regarding the preparation of painted layers “which help in not only deepening the understanding of the condition of murals once they are restored but also in conducting more research to gain more knowledge in the field of archaeology.”

In July 2018, Dr. Tadayuki Hara, an associate professor and senior research fellow at the Institute for Tourism Studies, gave a lecture on how to improve the value of touristic assets in Egypt at the Japanese Embassy in Cairo, where he cited the importance of the GEM in Egypt’s future.

“Revenues can be created through great memories,” Dr. Hara said. “That can be achieved through the GEM, the project that Japan is taking part in constructing.”