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30 years of Labor Migration from Thailand to Israel

Event organized by SEA-Junction

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30 years of Work Migration from Thailand to Israel: A talk by Shahar Shoham
April 22 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Foreign workers from Southeast Asia, predominantly Thailand and the Philippines, play a significant role in Israel’s overall economy. Thais have been migrating to work as temporary agriculture labourers in Israeli farms for the last three decades. The vast majority are from Isaan, a long time sending internal and international out migration region in Thailand. Many of them have been engaged in multiple cycles of migration to two or more destinations during the course of their lives, Israel among them.

The movement between Thailand and Israel started in the late 1980’s, after Israel opened its low-wage low-status labour market to overseas non-Jewish migrants to replace the sizeable Palestinian work force, following the first Palestinians uprising (Intifada). In 2012, after years of negotiations, Israel and Thailand signed the bilateral agreement “Thailand-Israel Cooperation on the Placement of Workers” (TIC) which regulates the labour migration between the countries. At any given moment, about 22,000 Thais work in labour-intensive jobs in Israel’s highly developed agriculture sector under highly regulated specially designed to preclude the possibility of settling down permanently.

In her talk on 22 April at 5-6.30 PM at SEA Junction, Shahar Shoham will explore the history and conditions of work migration from Thailand to Israel and will share findings from her anthropological research with a village community in Isaan, which hundreds of its residents have been migrating to Israel and back in the last 30 year.

This event is part of the series on movements of people from Southeast Asia entitled ASEAN People in Flux, which was initiated last year in cooperation with the Heinrich Boll Stiftung Southeast Asia and we are now continuing on our own as one of our thematic interests.


Shahar Shoham is a doctoral candidate in Global and Area Studies at the Institute for Asian and African Studies, Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany. Previously, she was the director of the Migrants and Status-less Persons Department of the Israeli NGO “Physicians for Human Rights-Israel” and continues to engage in activities directed at enhancing the protection of migrants and refugees.

Source: Thai workers on a tractor on the way to start their working day, early hours of October 18, 2013. (Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org; https://972mag.com/home-field-visiting-agriculture-workers-in-israel-part-2/82490/)

SEA Junction events are free, but donations are expected as they enable us to continue our activities. Thank you!

For reservation/information please contact us via email southeastasiajunction@gmail.com or phone/wa: +66970024140

About SEA Junction, OUR Venue on Southeast Asia

SEA Junction aims to foster understanding and appreciation of Southeast Asia in all its socio-cultural dimensions –from arts and lifestyles to economy and development. Conveniently located at Room 408 of the Bangkok Arts and Culture Centre or BACC (across MBK, BTS National Stadium) SEA junction facilitates public access to knowledge resources and exchanges among students, practitioners and Southeast Asia lovers. For more information see www.seajunction.org and join the Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1693055870976440/

Photo credit: A Thai agricultural worker, sitting on his bed inside a shipping container, used as the group’s residency, Moshav Yavetz, January 25, 2014. (Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)