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Webinar “Caught in the Middle: Thai Migrant Workers in Israel Today”
14 November, 2023 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Dozens of migrant workers from Thailand were killed, abducted or wounded in the Hamas attack on Israel of 7 October 2023. Previous to the attack, more than 30,000 Thai migrants worked in the agriculture sector in Israel as part of the bilateral agreement between Thailand and Israel (TIC), about 6,000 of them in the border with Gaza. Along with the last rescue flight from Israel to Thailand funded by the Thai government on 1 November, official numbers report 8,831 Thai workers have left, while 21,535 remain in Israel. Some of the remaining workers are still located in danger zones, and they report on social media about their vulnerable state. In the words –now more relevant than ever— of a 2014 poem entitled “In the Wrong Place” by Thai migrant workers, members of the “Moshav Band”:
Loud gunfire is heard from the battlefield, not far from where I work./ I cannot do anything as I am in the wrong place.// This is a religious war, fought endlessly for glory./ Putting many lives at stake.// Ho! It is not related to me./ I am just a Thai worker./ I came here to work and get paid. // Now I find myself in the wrong place, in the middle of the battlefield/ wondering, with tears and fear, if I will survive (translated by by Shoham)
In the aftermath of the attack, many were evacuated from their worksites with scant support. A new activist group, “Aid for Farm Workers,” formed by civil rights organizations, academic researchers, and independent people, has been established to provide humanitarian assistance to evacuated workers and to advocate for their rights. On 14 November at 5 pm, SEA Junction in partnership with the Institute for Population and Social Research (IPSR), Mahidol University, will organize a webinar on Zoom (link: https://bit.ly/Event-14NOV2023) and broadcast on our Facebook page (SEA-Junction) with the founders of this group to learn more about the conditions of Thai migrants working in Israel before and after the Hamas attack. Focus will be on ensuring their welfare of Thai migrant workers whether they decide to remain in Israel or to return to Thailand. In particular, it is urgent to guarantee that Thai farm workers in danger zones close to Gaza and on the northern border with Lebanon reside in safe places with shelters or standard fortified safe rooms. The event will be in English with simultaneous interpretation in Thai.
Moderator: Rosalia Sciortino, Associate Professor IPSR and Founder SEA Junction
Matan Kaminer is an anthropologist and a research fellow at the Martin Buber Society, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His book manuscript, Capitalist Colonial: Thai Migrant Workers in Israeli Agriculture, is under review at Stanford University Press.
Yahel Kurlander is a sociologist of labor markets who specializes in Thai migration to Israel. She is the Head of the Sociology and Anthropology program (B.A) of the Multidisciplinary faculty at Tel Hai College.
Zohar Shvarzberg is an M.Sc. graduate in Landscape Architecture from the Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. Her master’s research explores the gardens of Thai agricultural migrants in Israel.
Shahar Shoham is a Ph.D. candidate in Area and Global Studies at The Institute for Asian and African Studies, Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany. Her research focuses on the Thailand-Israel migration regime from the perspective of a sending migration community in Thailand.
For more information, please email: email@example.com or phone/wa: +66970024140
NB: SEA Junction events are free, but donation most welcome (click here)!
SEA Junction, established under the Thai non-profit organization Foundation for Southeast Asia Studies (ForSEA), aims to foster understanding and appreciation of Southeast Asia in all its socio-cultural dimensions, from arts and lifestyles to economy and development. Conveniently located at Room 407-8 of the Bangkok Arts and Culture Center or BACC (across MBK, BTS National Stadium), SEA Junction facilitates public access to knowledge resources and exchanges among students, practitioners and Southeast Asia lovers. For more information, see www.seajunction.org, join the Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/1693058870976440/ and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @seajunction.
Institute for Population and Social Research (IPSR), Mahidol University
IPSR was established in 1971 and has become one of Asia’s premier population research and training hubs. The Institute conducts research and provides training in population, sexual and reproductive health and development with a focus on Thailand and on neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia, with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of life for all. For more information, see https://ipsr.mahidol.ac.th.