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.”

 


Lebanese lawmakers to defy naming of new PM

Updated 07 December 2019

Lebanese lawmakers to defy naming of new PM

  • Saad Hariri submitted the resignation of his government on Oct. 29 as a result of ongoing mass protests against corruption

BEIRUT: Three lawmakers and members of Lebanese President Michel Aoun’s parliamentary bloc will not abide by its decision to name a new prime minister on Monday. 

Meanwhile, activists in the civil movement are holding meetings to announce a general strike and the blocking of roads on Monday in protest over reports that the new government will not include technocrats.

Samir Al-Khatib is considered the most favored candidate after preliminary consultations conducted by Aoun with his allies prior to setting the date for binding parliamentary consultations to nominate a Sunni prime minister, as required by the Lebanese constitution.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri submitted the resignation of his government on Oct. 29 as a result of ongoing mass protests against corruption. He later said he would not agree to head a new government unless it consisted of technocrats.

Lawmaker Neemat Frem urged citizens to provide him with the name of their favorite candidate to head the new government, “for you are the primary source of authority, and it is my duty to convey your voice in the binding parliamentary consultations.”

Lawmaker Chamel Roukoz said he will not nominate anyone for the position of prime minister.

Lawmaker Michel Daher declared his intention to boycott the parliamentary consultations if Al-Khatib is the only candidate.

Aoun assured a delegation of British financial and investment institutions, and US bank Morgan Stanley, that binding parliamentary consultations will take place on Monday to form a new government, which will help Lebanon’s friends launch agreed-to development projects.

“The new government’s priority will be to address the economic and financial conditions as soon as it is formed,” he said.

HIGHLIGHT

Samir Al-Khatib is considered the most favored candidate after preliminary consultations conducted by Aoun with his allies prior to setting the date for binding parliamentary consultations to nominate a Sunni prime minister, as required by the Lebanese constitution.

On Friday, Hariri sent letters to the leaders of a number of countries with good relations with Lebanon. 

He asked them to help Lebanon secure credit to import goods from these countries, in order to ensure food security and availability of raw materials for production in various sectors.

His media office said the move “is part of his efforts to address the shortage of financial liquidity, and to secure procuring the basic import requirements for citizens.”

Among the leaders Hariri wrote to are Saudi Arabia’s King Salman; the presidents of France, Russia, Egypt and Turkey; the prime ministers of China and Italy; and the US secretary of state.

On Dec. 11, Paris is due to host a meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon. Reuters quoted a European source as saying: “France has already sent invitations to attend the group meeting.”

Protesters continued their sit-ins in front of government institutions in Nabatieh, Zahle and Saida.

In Tripoli, protesters blocked the city’s main roads, which were eventually reopened by the army.

In Akkar, protesters raided public institutions and called for an “independent government that fights corruption, restores looted funds, and rescues the economic situation and living conditions from total collapse.”

Lebanese designer Robert Abi Nader canceled a fashion show that was due to be organized in Downtown Beirut, where protesters are gathering. 

Abi Nader said he intended through his show to express support for the protests by designing a special outfit called “the bride of the revolution,” and revenues were to be dedicated to families in need.