by Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem 10 February 2016 The Guardian
Israeli PM says proposed barrier would also solve problem of Hamas tunnels from Gaza, but plan already has critics in his own cabinet
Binyamin Netanyahu inspects the new fence at the border between Jordan and Israel near Eilat, saying: ‘In our neighbourhood, we need to protect ourselves from wild beasts.’ Photograph: Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/EPA
Binyamin Netanyahu has announced his intention to “surround all of Israel with a fence” to protect the country from infiltration by both Palestinians and the citizens of surrounding Arab states, whom he described as “wild beasts”.
The Israeli prime minister unveiled the proposal during a tour of the Jordan border area in Israel’s south, adding that the project – which would cost billions of shekels – would also be aimed at solving the problem of Hamas infiltration tunnels from Gaza, a recent source of renewed concern.
He called the border project a part of a “multi-year plan to surround Israel with security fences to protect ourselves in the current and projected Middle East”.
Describing the need for new walls and fences on Tuesday, Netanyahu said: “In our neighbourhood, we need to protect ourselves from wild beasts.
“At the end of the day as I see it, there will be a fence like this one surrounding Israel in its entirety. We will surround the entire state of Israel with a fence, a barrier.”
Netanyahu said the Israeli government was also examining ways of sealing gaps in the existing separation wall that runs along large areas of the occupied West Bank.
That separation wall – ordered to be built at great cost by former prime minister Ariel Sharon – was originally credited with a drop in the number of violent attacks by Palestinians in Israel, not least suicide bombings, a key feature of the second intifada in the first few years of this century.
That judgment has been undermined by the apparent ease with which Palestinians assailants have managed to enter Israel in the current wave of violence since October.
The war in Gaza in 2014 also demonstrated how easy it was for Hamas to tunnel beneath the barriers surrounding the coastal enclave into Israel itself.
“If you’re thinking of erecting a fence there you have to take into account that they could tunnel underneath it,” Netanyahu said. “The people who said that there is no significance to [retaining] territory in the modern age should go to Gaza.”
The proposal was, however, criticised by one of Netanyahu’s own cabinet ministers, education minister Naftali Bennett of the hard-right Jewish Home party, who has been embroiled in a series of recent disagreements over security policy with the prime minister.
Commenting on the proposal, Bennett said: “The prime minister spoke today about how fences are needed. We are wrapping ourselves in fences. In Australia and New Jersey there is no need for fences.”
Netanyahu’s use of the phrase “wild beasts” – also translated as “predators” – recalled his use of equally incendiary language about Israeli Arabs on the eve of last year’s elections whom he described as “coming out in droves”.
The prime minister made his comments as he visited a section of approximately 18 miles of fence being built from the Red Sea city of Eilat to near where Israel is constructing a new international airport. That alone is costing $77m (£53m). In 2013, Israel also completed a five-metre-high fence along its border with Sinai.
(Sadly, this looks like Israel is creating its own ghetto state surrounded by fences and walls. While imprisoning the Palestinians, its present extreme government is in effect imprisoning itself .Ed)
Tel Aviv service offers cleaners priced by ethnic origin
Cleaning services are being promoted to potential clients in north Tel Aviv with a flyer that prices its cleaners according to their ethnic origin. The advert also refers to its employees in the feminine only.
This flyer was reproduced on Facebook and in a story in the Hebrew press in Israel: It is an advertisement for a Tel Aviv housecleaning service that offers “solutions”. They do not employ Palestinians for “security” reasons and the prices listed, 49 NIS per hour ($12 an hour), 52 NIS per hour ($13) and 69 NIS ($17) based on the employed person race! And all the workers are referred to as women.
49 NIS – for a foreigner of African descent
52 NIS – for a foreigner of eastern European descent
69 NIS – for a resident (Israeli ID holder) of eastern European descent
+972 has picked up the story too. “The advert, which was distributed in one of Tel Aviv’s most affluent areas, was first posted on Facebook by political blogger Tal Schneider, who was given the flyer by an acquaintance,” reports Natasha Roth. The ad explicitly asks, “Not prepared to have an Arab cleaner for security reasons?” Well, this is the solution.
A flyer distributed in north Tel Aviv that offers cleaning services according to the ethnic origin of the (female only) cleaner.
A service provider offering cleaning and housekeeping in north Tel Aviv has taken the term “human resources” to a whole new level, distributing a flyer that prices its cleaners according to their ethnic origin.
The advert, which was distributed in one of Tel Aviv’s most affluent areas, was first posted on Facebook <https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10154575893649251&set=a.142463229250.138469.754749250&type=3&theater> by political blogger Tal Schneider, who was given the flyer by an acquaintance.
Starting out with a corny infomercial-style list of questions, the ad asks: Do you need a housekeeper? Are you tired of hiring illegal foreign workers and getting fined? Not prepared to have an Arab cleaner for security reasons? Are you tired of employing according to the law and being sued by temporary workers?
The flyer then presents the “solution” to all these unpleasant and onerous problems, by offering “legal only” housekeepers and cleaners, with hourly rates scaled according to the cleaner’s ethnicity.
The cheapest labor comes from employees from African countries, at NIS 49 per hour. Slightly more expensive are Eastern European workers, at NIS 52 an hour. By far the most expensive are Eastern European employees who hold Israeli citizenship, at NIS 69 per hour.
The flyer also refers to the cleaners in question exclusively in the feminine (Hebrew is a gendered language), which in conjunction with the illustrative photo of a serene (and white) woman cleaning a window, adds a healthy wallop of sexism into the mix.
The immediate assumption of many that this is satire designed to highlight the very open and profound racism that runs through Israeli society was unfortunately dispelled, according to national news outlet Mako <http://www.mako.co.il/news-israel/local-q1_2016/Article-2cda43f0952b251004.htm?sCh=3d385dd2dd5d4110&pId=1898243326> [Heb], which said it managed to contact an employee of the company to confirm that the ad was indeed real. The employee also reportedly claimed that paying employees different salaries according to their ethnicity is not illegal.
Each time such a brazen and shameful display of casual racism <http://972mag.com/israeli-hotels-warn-jewish-guests-that-arabs-will-also-be-there/111503/> pops up in this country, the immediate response is to compare it to how it would look if another country did the same thing: to imagine, for example, the uproar that would be caused if an American company priced its (female-only) cleaning services according to whether the cleaners were from southeast Asia, say, or African-American.
It’s a valid and tempting comparison to make. But it’s also sad, because it demonstrates just how deep-seated the prejudice is in Israel: people have to be shown other examples of horrendous discrimination in order to understand just how unnatural this state of affairs is. And anyone who may want to console themselves with the idea that this kind of precision racism is not a perfectly normal part of the discourse here need only look back to another mini-incident from a few months back.
Last October, in response to a wave of stabbing and other terror attacks, the council of Tel Aviv suburb Givatayim started looking into the possibility of replacing all their schools’ Palestinian janitorial staff with Eritreans <http://www.mako.co.il/news-military/security-q4_2015/Article-546881fb54a7051004.htm> [Heb]. What stood in their way? A previous law passed by the Israeli government that barred the employment of African asylum seekers in the central Israel region.
Underneath all of this, of course, is the unspoken understanding that this kind of manual work is only to be assigned to non-Jews (thus, for example, a fairly prominent lawyer once blithely remarked to me that “Jews are too smart” for this kind of labor).
One more thing: the last carrot the flyer dangles in front of its prospective clients is a special price for a “full day” of 12 hours of work. Human resources, indeed.