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Elie Wiesel: Does deporting children reflect the Jewish spirit?
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Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel on Thursday criticized the decision by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet to deport 400 children of migrant workers from Israel, and questioned the Jewish ethics behind the decision.

"I find it hard to believe that such a thing is happening in Israel," Wiesel told Haaretz, adding, "Where is the Jewish spirit, the Jewish heart and the Jewish compassion?"

The cabinet on Sunday voted in favor of the recommendations by an inter-ministerial committee to deport 400 children of migrant workers within 21 days. The vote won the approval of 13 ministers. Ten voted against the recommendations, and four abstained.

Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman had recommended the move, suggesting deporting children except those of migrant workers who have been in Israel for more than five years, and are either entering first grade or a higher school grade. The children who are allowed to stay must also speak Hebrew, and if they were not born in Israel, they must have arrived in Israel before the age of 13.

Wiesel, who heads a foundation that funds projects for refugees from Darfur in Israel, said in dismay that "We are a people who remember all the deportations that fill our people's history, and innocently I believed that we would be more sensitive to the suffering of others because of it."

"How can the Jewish state deport 400 children who were born in Israel and went to Jewish schools?" he said. "I am sure that in Menachem Begin's days this would never have happened. Begin was the first one who opened Israel's gates to Vietnamese refugees, and what is happening today? I am troubled and amazed."

The decision applies only to children whose parents entered Israel legally.
Whoever does not meet the criteria will be asked to leave the county within a month.
More than 1,200 children were up for deportation earlier this year, of which 800 children met the criteria and will be granted approval to remain here.

Shas ministers objected, as expected, but Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer and Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar unexpectedly objected as well, calling for keeping all the children in Israel and granting legal status to preschool children as well.

"This is not the Jewish state I know, if it deports children," Ben-Eliezer shouted at the cabinet session on Sunday.

Source > Haaretz

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