Murphy's Law: Filipinos Flee Gaza But Not Israel

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August 6, 2014: The Philippines found itself involved in the current war between Hamas and Israel. This is because there are over 36,000 Filipinos in Israel and the Palestinian territories (Gaza and the West Bank). Over 99 percent of these Filipinos work in Israel, as part of the large force of foreigners brought in to replace Palestinian workers after the Palestinian government declared a terrorist campaign against Israel in 2000. That terror campaign caused permanent loss of over 70,000 Palestinian jobs inside Israel. In response to that replacement workers were imported from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Israelis are happy with these workers, and many employers don’t want to replace them with Palestinians even if they could. Even though the Palestinian terrorism effort was defeated by 2005 that was largely because Israel allowed very few Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank to enter Israel. Meanwhile labor demand increased since 2000 and there are now over 100,000 foreign workers in Israel. Non-Moslems are preferred and Filipinos are especially liked because they are often highly skilled, speak English and are Christian (only four percent of Filipinos are Moslem).

There are, however, about 250 Filipinos in the West Bank and Gaza. These are Moslem wives or children of those women who all have Filipino passports. There were 109 of these in Gaza and fewer than a dozen asked the Filipino government to help get them out of Gaza to avoid the fighting. The rest chose to remain in Gaza. The Filipino government worked with the Israelis to get ten Filipinos out of Gaza by the end of July, despite all the fighting. The ten were allowed to enter Jordan. Very few Filipinos in Israel went home because of the fighting. Some Filipinos organized pro-Israel demonstrations in Israel.

Filipinos are popular foreign workers throughout the Arab world. Again it’s the fact that Filipinos are often highly skilled, speak English and are willing to keep quiet about being Christian. There are over half a million Filipinos working in Arab countries, despite sometimes harsh treatment and occasional pressure to convert to Islam. Hundreds do convert each year, but many do it only to keep their jobs and abandon Islam once they get home.

 

 


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