The last piece of business the Knesset conducted Monday before it broke off due to the threat of snow was the passage in its second and third reading of a bill that allows dentists with five years or more experience abroad to automatically qualify for an Israeli license to practice dentistry. The bill, said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, will help promote aliyah of professionals and make their absorption into Israel smoother, Israel Radio reported.
In recent weeks, there has been a spate of media reports claiming that many heads of households of the families of French Jews who immigrated to Israel over the past year and who practice professions such as law, medicine and dentistry have been sorely disappointed at demands that they take on internships and go through sets of licensing tests – even though they have been practicing their professions for years. Blaming “protective guilds,” the reports said that many were considering leaving the country, despite the anti-Semitism prevalent in France – in order to be able to make a living.
Among them is Dr. David Tibi, a man who has emerged as a symbol of the struggle faced by French immigrant professionals. A dentist himself, Tibi was required to go through tests, after having worked for three decades as a dentist in France. “We came here out of Zionism and love of Israel, not fear,” he told the NRG news agency. “We gave up the luxuries of our former life willingly, and we expected Israel to open its arms to us. But we were wrong.
Tibi appealed to several MKs, getting the ear of Aliyah and Absorption Minister Ze’ev Elkin, who decided to do something about the licensing fiasco. Together with Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman, the two developed a law that would allow for recognition of foreign issued licenses for dentists, backed by at least five years experience in the field.
After the vote, Elkin stood up at the Knesset podium and thanked “the 96 MKs from the coalition and opposition who voted to approve this law unanimously, and who did not allow the threat of snow to bully them into running away before we had a chance to vote on this. This is wonderful news for olim, and I thank the Prime Minister and the Health Minister for their support.”