"Tel Aviv is not foreign to you": Urban incorporation policy on labor migrants in Israel

Adriana Kemp, Rebeca Raijman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article addresses the growing disjuncture between urban and national policies regarding the incorporation of labor migrants in Israel. Drawing on fieldwork, in-depth interviews with Tel Aviv municipal officials, and archive analysis of Tel Aviv municipality minutes, we argue that urban migrant-directed policy elicits new understandings of membership and participation, other than those envisaged by national parameters, which bear important, even if unintended, consequences for the de facto incorporation of non-Jewish labor migrants. The crux of the Tel Aviv case is that its migrant-directed policy bears especially on undocumented labor migrants, who make up approximately 16 percent of the city's population and who are the most problematic category of resident from the state's point of view. In demanding recognition for the rights of migrant workers in the name of a territorial category of "residence," and by activating channels of participation for migrant communities, local authorities in Tel Aviv are introducing definitions of "urban membership" for noncitizens which conflict sharply with the hegemonic ethnonational policy. We suggest that the disjuncture between urban and national incorporation policies on labor migrants in Israel is part of a general process of political realignment between the urban and the national taking place within a globalized context of labor migration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-51
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Migration Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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