Latino Migrants in the Jewish State purports to be an exposé of the mistreatment of illegal South Americans employed in Israel. Kalir, an expatriate Israeli anthropologist teaching in Holland, confuses scientific methodological analysis with cherry-picked examples to bolster an underlying political agenda: He wants Israel to appear to be an intolerant place.
The problem is that while attempting to paint Israelis as closed-minded people with prejudices against illegal workers, those foreigner workers whom the author interviews have a surprising tendency to praise Israelis and tell him how wonderfully they are treated while working in Israel. There are almost no data in the book, no statistical analysis at all, merely interviews with people who may or may not be representative.
Kalir likes to use the term "exploitation" to refer to any situation in which I employ you and pay you a wage several times higher than the wages you can find in any other alternative employment. So when Israelis stop "exploiting" Palestinians because of terrorism, they turn to guest workers from other countries, "import them" and "exploit" them. In reality, guest workers from many countries wait in long lines to work in Israel and send their earnings home to their families. For Israel, the biggest headache is to get these workers to go home when their visas are up because of their reluctance to give up their wages of "exploitation."
South Americans are, in fact, but a tiny portion of the large guest worker population living and employed in Israel, and they are probably not very representative of the larger group. There are interesting aspects of the subject that Kalir could have addressed but overlooks: What are the social relations between South American illegals and the many legal Latinos or South American Jewish immigrants to Israel? What are their relations with guest workers from other countries?
Kalir fails his calling as an anthropologist by ignoring altogether the real dilemma at the heart of the guest worker problem in Israel. Guest workers are an unambiguous economic blessing and labor resource, but they represent a social and demographic problem for those seeking to maintain the predominantly Jewish character of the country and its culture. Kalir never quite grasps this fundamental issue.