'Tell My Sister to Come and Get Me Out of Here': A Reading of Ableism and Orientalism in Israel's Immigration Policy (The First Decade)


  • Sagit Mor




In this article, I suggest a new reading of Israeli immigration policy as it existed during its first decade, by highlighting the fundamental role that disability played in its formation. Despite the popular image of Israel as a state of refuge for all Jews, its history reveals that immigration of Jews to Israel was regulated through screening policies and rules. Economic and practical considerations were mixed with ideological biases in favor of productive immigrants that fit the goals of Zionism, and against the sick, the old, and the disabled who were assumed to be inherently unproductive and dependent. Disability was not only a reason to exclude some groups from the Zionist project, but also a justification for screening others — a metaphor through which other social groups were rendered useless and inferior. In Israel, it was used to restrict Mizrahi immigrants who arrived from Arab and Muslim countries, in particular, immigrants from Morocco. Through the case of Israeli immigration policy, the article highlights a hidden part of Israel's history and also explores the ways in which social groups are demeaned and ostracized through images of disability, and how these images have operated as badges of inferiority.






Special Topic: The State of Disability in Israel/Palestine