Israel Ask the Philippine to Lift Travel Ban and Welcome more Filipinos

Israel - Gaza War Scene. Photo: japanfocus.org

Israeli envoy seeks lifting of Philippines ban on workers in wake of cease-fire

Israel's envoy to Manila says he will ask the government to lift a ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Israel following the end of heavy fighting between Israeli and Hamas forces.

Ambassador Menashe Bar-on said Tuesday that the ban is unnecessary because the situation in Israel was returning to normal after a cease-fire agreement last week.

Bar-on says there are more than 40,000 Filipinos in Israel, mostly employed as care-givers, who have access to bunker-like protection against rocket attacks. The Philippine government says there are also about 120 Filipinos in Gaza.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration banned the deployment of workers to Israel because of the conflict, but made its decision after Wednesday's cease-fire.

Overseas workers provide one of the largest sources of foreign revenue for the Philippines.

Filipino Workers Always Welcome in Israel – Ambassador

Filipino workers, particularly caregivers, will always be welcome in Israel because of their impressive skills, experience and work etiquette, according to a top Israeli diplomat in the Philippines.

"They are welcome. The way these (Filipino) caregivers work, they really know how to do it," Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines Menashe Bar-on told Manila Bulletin in an interview. "They can speak English--so it's more easy to communicate between employer and employee."

Ambassador Bar-on said that ever since their government decided to give working visas for caregivers the number of Filipinos in Israel have increased despite the ongoing conflict with Palestinian militants.

There are about 41,000 Filipinos living and working in Israel, mostly in the caregiving sector.

But, according to Bar-on, the relationship between Israel and the Philippines does not depend merely on manpower.

"The Philippines and Israel also have very good trade relations and knowledge exchange," he said.

The Israeli envoy noted that more than 200 Filipinos are studying in Israel.

In addition, every year at least 40 Filipinos participate in higher education training, particularly doctors, to gain new skills and to be able to use different equipment in their profession.

Also 300 Filipino students have studied in Israel on how to use greenhouses and other technology related to agriculture.

"It is knowledge, and you cannot measure it in money," said Ambassador Bar-on.

Trade between the two countries has reached $200 million the previous year with Israel importing semiconductors and agricultural products such as dried mangoes from the Philippines.

Bar-on said Israel also extends assistance to the commercial sector in the Philippines "as we do business with them."

The Philippines and Israel have enjoyed excellent bilateral relations since the latter was established in 1948, but their relations predate this, he said.

President Manuel L. Quezon espoused a policy of "Open Doors" which facilitated the issuance of visas for Jewish refugees who are escaping the Holocaust during the Second World War.

Bar-on pointed out that the Philippines opened its doors to 10,000 Jews escaping Nazi Europe from 1936 to 1939, but only 1,200 made it.

The Israeli embassy is coming up with a project to show Filipinos "the wonderful part of history related to the Holocaust."

The project aims to show the generosity of the Filipino people who gave these refugees an opportunity to start a new life in the Philippines.

He said they plan to include it in the curriculum of De La Salle University with the support of the Department of Education.

"Part of wonderful history of the Philippines, we want to raise it to the knowledge of Filipinos today," Ambassador Bar-on said.

With report from Foxnews and Manila Bulletin

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