Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"Stop the cheap laborers!"

On September 18, 1967, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labor Yigal Allon wrote a short letter to the ministers of defense (Moshe Dayan) and police (Eliyahu Sasson) alerting them to the danger of large numbers of laborers from the newly-controlled territories entering Israel in search of work. They're illegal, he wrote, they undercut the wages of Israeli laborers, and of course they're a security threat. The Labor Bureau is trying to halt their entry, but the employers are disregarding its efforts. There's been a meeting of top officials, but no effective solution has been identified. It appears that the only way to combat the phenomenon is for the police and the army to prevent these laborers from leaving the territories. 

Yes, well. As anyone who knew Israel in the 1970s and 1980s can attest, large numbers of mostly unskilled Palestinians from the territories were a central part of Israel's economy in those days, mostly in construction and low-level services. In the 1990s and afterwards this changed, but that's a different story.

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