Bennett Proposes ‘Affirmative Action’ for Chareidim

YERUSHALAYIM -

Long-standing claims of pervasive anti-chareidi discrimination in hiring were given confirmation on Wednesday by Minister for the Economy Naftali Bennett, who promised to support legislation for affirmative action for chareidim in the civil service.

Bennett said that next Sunday he would present a proposal to the cabinet for the drafting of a bill for review by the relevant ministries by July 13. However, if such a bill is forthcoming, it will probably not reach the Knesset plenum for initial readings before November, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Chareidi MKs have raised the issue for years, but to no avail. In November, United Torah Judaism MK Rabbi Meir Porush proposed a similar measure, but it was defeated due to lack of support from the government of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Government officials have repeatedly urged chareidim to join the work force, while ignoring or denying the obstacles they face.

Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni objected to Rabbi Porush’s bill on the grounds that the lack of chareidim in the government service was due to “an unwillingness to integrate into Israeli life.”

But, as Bennett — and many others before him, not necessarily chareidi — noted on Wednesday, “chareidim I have spoken to say they have simply not been able to get work in public service even when they fulfil the criteria. The public sector needs to understand the amazing abilities of this community and give them a boost.”

A recent survey found significant prejudice among Israeli employers. Forty-two percent admitted reluctance to employ Arab men; over a third (37 percent) expressed  reluctance to employ chareidi men; and 13 percent were unwilling to employ married women with small children from any sector.