Bnei Brak battles African 'infiltrators'
Whistleblower hotline invites neighbors to report, 'shame' homeowners who rent to migrants
Yoav Zitun • Ynet
Renting a home to a non-Jew in Bnei Brak? Watch out for tattletale neighbors. A call center for whistleblowers has begun operating in recent days in the ultra-Orthodox city in central Israel. The hotline invites residents to report neighbors who rent property to migrants.
A massive campaign has been launched by the city council to battle the influx of illegal African immigrants, thousands of whom have come to live in Bnei Brak. As part of this campaign, a proclamation was circulated citing a halachic ruling against renting property to non-Jews, and informing the public that the city council will prosecute homeowners who split apartments in order rent them to migrants or refugees.
As part of this plan, the whistleblower hotline aims to shame homeowners into submission by revealing the names of those who provide housing to refugees to the public.
"Since some of the renters are ultra-Orthodox or traditional, the embarrassment may cause them to change their mind," explained one haredi politico. "We are sick of living this way, so we decided take initiative to protect our children and preserve our way of life."
"These days the Bnei Brak City Council is collaborating with other establishments to return the Jewish way of life to our neighborhoods – more specifically, to take care of the problem of infiltrators," the advertisement for the hotline reads.
"Anyone who knows of apartments where infiltrators are found or the names of the homeowner is requested to call the number and leave a detailed messages stating the apartment's address."
Members of the Bnei Brak City Council, headed by Deputy Mayor Hanoch Zeibert, convened Sunday with top activists in the struggle in order to find ways to deal with the phenomenon.
'We don't have to take care of them'
Authors of the ad, dubbed the 'action committee,' also demand callers specify whether the homeowner is ultra-Orthodox. Campaign organizers plan to publish the growing list of so-called offenders in a local newspaper.
"This phone number added 50 addresses in its first days, and that helps us to make it difficult for homeowners," said Rabbi Menashe Zelicha of the Pardes Katz neighborhood in Bnei Brak, where many of the refugees reside.
"The Sudanese and the infiltrators escape the areas where they are killed, but living with us just doesn't fit, and we don't have to take care of them," he added.
"Our war is against those who rent apartments to them but not those who employ them, because we don't want to harm their livelihood."
Bnei Brak City Council said in response, "This is a private initiative of residents who are suffering, and for whom it is difficult to deal with the situation….it's their right. If lists are forwarded to us, we will address them and look into them, just like complaints voiced by any resident."