Prominent American-Jewish Lawyers: “Netanyahu, Stop the Slavery Law”

Today, 16 May 2011, the 18th Knesset opened its 2011 Summer Seat. On the first day of this Knesset seat, a very dangerous bill will be brought to the Knesset for its second-third (i.e. final) reading.
This bill is the “Slavery Law,” which aims to restrict the conditions of migrant workers in the nursing professions. According to this bill, the Minister of Interior will have the power to bind migrant caretakers to their employers; to subsections of nursing services; to a set number of employers they may switch; and to a specific geographic location in which they may work. This bill constitutes an attempt to restore the previous arrangement that bound migrant workers to their employers, and which the Supreme Court has already criticized in 2006 as “a modern form of slavery”.
Ahead if the final reading of this bill, 91 prominent American-Jewish legal experts sent a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and to the Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, urging them to stop this unconstitutional legislation initiative. This letter, initiated by the New Israel Fund and by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), was written in support of a previous letter, sent by prominent Israeli retired judges, law professors, and lawyers opposing the “Slavery Law.”
The American-Jewish lawyers’ letter is posted below.
Binyamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel
MK Reuven Rivlin, Speaker of the Knesset

Honorable Sirs,
As Jews who deeply care about Israel, as lawyers, indeed as human beings, we are gravely concerned about a recent legislative attempt to revoke the most basic rights of migrant caretakers in Israel: people, mostly women, who have traveled far from home in order to provide for their families, and who work in Israel caring for the elderly, the disabled, and other persons in need of physical assistance.
We hereby express our support for the letter written by our Israeli colleagues – retired judges, law  professors, and law researchers – regarding a proposed Knesset bill, Amendment 21 to the Israel Entry Act, which will restrict work permits issued to migrant workers in the nursing professions in Israel.
The letter written by our Israeli colleagues sheds light on the dangerous ramifications that this proposed bill, if enacted, would have on the lives of one of the most weakened groups within Israel: migrant caretakers. This proposed legislation will enhance the dependence of migrant caretakers on their employers for their legal status, thereby limiting their ability to escape from abusive employment conditions. Such an irregular legal reality – which conflicts with the basic principles of Israeli labor laws and with the very purpose of a labor contract – severely infringes on a wide range of protected human rights, primarily the right to dignity and to personal freedom. It also infringes upon Israel’s commitments under international law to workers’ rights.
As pointed out by our Israeli colleagues, this bill attempts to restore the previous “binding arrangement” between migrant workers and their employers, which Judge Chesin of the Court deemed in 2006 as “a modern form of slavery” (HCJ 4542/02 The Kav La’Oved v. the Israeli Government, ver. 71(1) 346 (2006)). Such legislation is clearly unconstitutional, fails to satisfy the principle of proportionality, and contradicts common standards of human morality.
We have just celebrated Passover, the “Holiday of Freedom,” a time in which we are required to remember our people’s past as foreign slaves, as migrant workers in Egypt if you will. As the Bible specifically instructs us: “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 22:21).
In light of the above, we wish to express our support for our Israeli colleagues’ letter, and we join them in calling on you to stop the legislation procedures of this bill and to hold an extensive and calculated discussion regarding its potential ramifications.
Respectfully yours,
Robert Bloom, Boston College Law School
Yishai Boyarin, Mediation Clinic, Hofstra University
Sandra Coliver, Open Society Justice Institute
Peter Edelman, Georgetown University Law Center
Yasmin Ergas, Institute for the Study of Human Rights, Columbia University
Eric Freedman, Maurice A. Deane Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law, Hofstra Law School
Monroe Freedman, Hofstra University School of Law
Emily Goodman
Daniel Greenwood, Professor of Law, Hofstra University College of Law
Ariela Gross , Gould School of Law, University of Southern California
Hadar Harris, American University Washington College of Law
James Kainen, Fordham University School of Law
Victor Kovner, co-founder, J Street and board member, Americans for Peace Now
Seth Kreimer, University of Pennsylvania Law School
Stefan Krieger, Director, Center for Applied Legal Reasoning, Hofstra University School of Law
James Kushner, Southwestern Law School
Shari Motro, University of Richmond School of Law
Russell Pearce, Fordham University School of Law
Kathleen Peratis
Dinah PoKempner
Todd Rackoff, Harvard Law School
Gustin Reichbach
Ricki Roer, Chair National Employment Practice Team, Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman  &Dicker LLP
David Rudovsky, Senior Fellow, Penn Law School
Barry Scheck, Co-Founder of the Innocence Project
Herman Schwartz, American University Washington College of Law
Laurence Tribe, Harvard Law School
Alan Weisbard, University of Wisconsin Law School
Stephen Wizner, Yale Law School
Geoffrey Abrams, Retired lawyer
Karen Abravanel
Allan Abravanel
Karen Adler
Oz Benamram
Nicole Berner, Associate General Counsel, Service Employees International Union
Emily Bloomenthal
Steve Bocknek
George Brieger, Intellectual Property Attorney, New York
Arthur Brunwasser
Randall Chamberlain, Immigration Lawyer
G. Cohen
Robert Feder
Eric Fink, Elon University School of Law
Henry Freedman, National Center for Law and Economic Justice
Linda Fries
Joshua Geller
Steven Gerber
Oren Heiman, Managing Partner, Shiboleth LLP
Leslie Kane
Richard Kass
Donya Khalili, Susman Godfrey, LLP
Edward Labaton, Labaton Sucharow LLP
Stuart Laurence
Antonia Lavine
Bill Leavitt
Beryl Levine, retired judge
Jonah Levy, Political Science, Berkeley
Jeff Mandell
Rafael Mandelman
Jesse Margolin
Geraldine Mund, Bankruptcy Judge
Jordan Nodel
Ora Prochovnick, John F. Kennedy University College of Law
Daniel Reich
Jonathan Reingold, Reingold Law, PLLC
Lilah Rosenblum, Lichtman & Elliot, PC
Elden Rosenthal, senior partner, Rosenthal Greene & Devlin, PC
Edan Rotenberg
Ernest Rubenstein, Retired Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison
David Salem
Marcia Settel
Paul Sher
Scott Sholder
Rebecca Silber
Jessica Silbey
James Silk, Yale Law School
Mark Singer, California Labor Attorney
Aviam Soifer, William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai’i
Nomi Stolzenberg, Gould School of Law, University of Southern California
David Stone, Retired Partner, Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP
Rachel Tiven
Ruth White


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Categories: Anti-Democratic Initiatives, Citizenship and Residency, Democracy and Civil Liberties, Labor Rights, Migrant Workers, Social and Economic Rights, Women's Rights

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2 Responses to Prominent American-Jewish Lawyers: “Netanyahu, Stop the Slavery Law”

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