It was two years ago. The residents of south Tel Aviv, whose voices and distress had not yet been picked up by the media, tried a different approach: They invited politicians to tour their neighborhood, to see with their own eyes what the residents were being subjected to day in and day out.
Improvement of Government Services Minister Michael Eitan was in the neighborhood on one such tour, escorted by security and local police officers. Eitan passed by Levinsky Park, which had turned into a stronghold of border infiltrators, through the synagogue, long abandoned by its congregants, and past several stores that had been broken into and looted, when suddenly a cry was heard from a nearby building. "Help!" a woman screamed.
The security guards and police officers rushed to the building's blue door. They knocked three times and yelled "Open up! Police." They pulled out a young girl, in her teens, who was apparently trying to purchase narcotics for personal use. She had been captured by a group of illegal migrants who demanded unconventional payment for the drugs. Fortunately for the girl, this happened just as a cabinet minister was touring the area, but it hurts to think how many young girls before here were not that lucky.
This incident is just one of hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of occurrences that have become a matter of routine in central Israel's backyard. Anyone in contact with the residents of south Tel Aviv in recent years could not avoid hearing statements like "it will end in murder", or learning about the murder of Esther Galili by an illegal infiltrator. "We fear for our daughters" is another statement one is likely to hear, following the recent reports of rape.
Those who live in this area have seen authentic, warm neighborhoods turn into mean streets of fear. The area, which once embodied the life portrayed in the fictional '70s television show, "The Children from Chaim [life] Neighborhood", has become lifeless. The doors that were always open have now been double- and triple-locked.
The tragedy of south Tel Aviv is shared by all. The poor original residents, having passed the point of no return, have lost the neighborhood to foreigners, to ethnic restaurants, to music of other cultures, and especially to fear of neighbors who have nothing to lose. The infiltrators, on the other hand, remind us what a persecuted, destitute people looks like when trying to survive by any means possible.
Just as the tragedy belongs to everyone, so does the responsibility. Former governments as well as the current one, the police, immigration authorities and the municipality are all to blame. It is impossible not to ask one simple question — how is it that these foreigners never reached the more affluent neighborhoods of north Tel Aviv, Herziliya or Ramat Hasharon?