French MP Demands Recognition of Professional Credentials

YERUSHALAYIM -

A Jewish lawmaker in France has issued an ultimatum that if Israel does not soon recognize French academic degrees, he will work to oppose the flight of Jews from his country to Israel, The Times of Israel reported on Tuesday.

French MP Meyer Habib decried the treatment of French immigrants by Israel, on the one hand encouraging them to move to Israel, but at the same time refusing to recognize their credentials and forcing them to undergo a difficult testing regime.

Speaking at a conference in Yerushalayim, Habib said that “people come here with families and don’t manage to put food on the table. They spent all their savings; it’s psychologically exceedingly troubling and people are depressed because their social status is being broken. Morally, this is unacceptable.

“Today, I say clearly: If in the coming three months there is no tangible progress, I will tell the Jews of France: Don’t come to Israel until your degrees are recognized. You can’t bring people here who have studied for five or ten years [to be doctors, dentists, lawyers] and then [they] have to work as waiters, have difficulty making ends meet or have to burn through their savings.”

Habib, a longtime friend of Binyamin Netanyahu, told The Times that he believes the prime minister is on his side, but that members of the professional elite in Israel are preventing reform because they fear competition from new immigrants.

He says that Israel should not require more than “an internship of maybe two or three months, to learn the language,” before allowing someone to seek employment in the field for which he or she qualified back home.

“Today I am convinced that we need to put on pressure. We waited for too long,” said Habib, who is in Israel this week for a conference of the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians, under the auspices of the World Jewish Congress.