Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Wizard Of Oz Looses His Magic

Tziki Sela, head of the notorious Israeli Oz immigration police unit that has terrorised 'illegal immigrants' since its formation earlier this year, has resigned after only six months in the job. He claimed that, “At this point I think I have given the unit what I could, and I would like to turn to other professional channels in the private sector.”

The truth is somewhat different, depending on who you listen to. One of the reasons given is that Oz Unit officers were not receiving their wages, as no one in the Interior Ministry's Immigration and Population Administration had actually gotten around to drafting wage agreements for the unit before it was formed.

However, the Israeli media and civil groups were outraged by an interview Sela gave to the tabloid Ma’ariv in August, where he claimed that, “These groups, those who protest against us [the new Oz unit], the ones that call me ‘Goebbels’ and a Nazi, are anarchists who want the destruction of the state of Israel, with three exclamation marks. They should be condemned. This is criminal behaviour, pure and simple.”

After dismissing the plight of the children of foreign workers with the line "(they) do not have a legal permit and that is it. They are just guests here.", he went on to say, “We mean business, I am telling the illegal migrants, take yourselves from here and go away willingly. We will give you the plane tickets. Get out of here.” This article provoked a prolonged barrage of criticism, which in the end seems to have done for him.

In other news, Israeli ministers held a fractious meeting on Monday to decide the future of the 1,200 children of foreign workers currently in Israel, many of who were born there. Some ministers, such as the Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog, managed to reverse the existing policy of expulsion by the end of the current school year, but the Interior Minister Eli Yishai, a leading light in the deportation campaign, threatened to resign if he was forced to grant permanent residence status to the children.

So a compromise of sorts has been reached whereby any deportation of the children, and one presumes their parents, has been postponed for the foreseeable future. In the meantime the Oz unit will continue rounding up the 280,000 'illegal' foreigners in Israel.

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