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Unpublished Paper
The Deportation of Migrant Workers from Israel: Theory, Policy and the Law
ExpressO (2009)
  • Yossi Dahan
This essay proposes a theoretical framework for understanding the deportation of tens of thousands of migrant workers from Israel between the years 1995 and 2005. To this end, it examines Israeli deportation policy based, inter alia, on an empirical study of hundreds of deportation cases litigated in the courts between 2001 and 2005. This examination demonstrates that the deportation campaign was designed to achieve two parallel goals: to lower labor costs by creating a large class of indentured workers through what has been referred to as the “binding arrangement” (a neo-liberal goal) and to deny the grant of civic status to non-Jewish migrant workers (an ethno-national goal). To a large extent, the Israeli courts have played an active role in the implementation of the deportation campaign by dismissing the lion’s share of petitions that have been submitted in this matter, while employing language that justifies the two aforesaid goals. Nevertheless, on migration issues, a certain degree of tension has emerged between public policy and rulings by the High Court of Justice. Therefore, we argue that no single theory is able, on its own, to explain the Israeli deportation campaign, but rather, a combination of several approaches is required. These include: the role of the state in serving the interests of local capital; the dilemmas faced by the nation-state on issues of citizenship in the global age; the new penology as applied to disadvantaged populations; and the influence of pressure groups and fluctuations in public opinion on decision-making processes in liberal democracies. The need to take all of these approaches into consideration becomes clearer as migration issues become a more central part of public, legal, and academic discourse in Israel.
  • migrant workers,
  • human rights,
  • citizenship,
  • neo-liberalism,
  • globalization
Publication Date
March 8, 2009
Citation Information
Yossi Dahan. "The Deportation of Migrant Workers from Israel: Theory, Policy and the Law" ExpressO (2009)
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