Israel To Launch Affirmative Action Program For Haredim
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
The cabinet of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved an affirmative action plan for haredim today that will increase the number of haredim employed in civil service positions, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The move was pushed by Periphery Minister Aryeh Deri, who is also the chairman of the Sefardi haredi Shas Party, and the prime minister.
Approximately 150 haredi men and women with academic qualifications will now be hired by the civil service each year.
Available civil service jobs will be published in haredi media and there will also be special search engine optimization to increase haredi exposure to open civil service jobs.
“Suitability and selection tests will be examined” – i.e., adjusted – “in order to ensure equal opportunities [for haredim],” the Prime Minister’s Office reportedly said after today’s cabinet meeting.
A special program for haredim who have excelled academically in higher education will be created, and these specific haredim will be eligible for a “green path towards entrance to key junctures in the civil service and will be eligible for close support and training.”
Haredim who currently do not work in civil service positions will be allowed to apply for civil service jobs that are only advertised internally within the civil service system, as well.
“This is a clear message: the state wants to integrate more and more haredim into the civil service and this message is going out to the private sector too that they should also integrate haredi workers,” Deri said.
Hiddush, a nonprofit that fights for freedom of and from religion, responded that if Deri wanted to integrate haredim into the workforce he should ensure that his Shas Party network of primary schools sends students to high schools that teach Israel’s core curriculum subjects like math, science, civic, English, computers and technology – all subjects the vast majority of haredi yeshivas refuse to teach.
“Before Shas speaks about discrimination against haredim in the civil service it would be worthwhile for the party to remember that the principle responsibility for the current situation [is with] the haredi political parties who have in the past done everything to make it harder for their voters to obtain higher education,” the chairman of Hiddush, Reform Rabbi Uri Regev, told the Post.
However, a researcher at the Israel Democracy Institute’s Project on Religion and State supported the cabinet’s move.
“So far, the haredi community’s only role models have been those who excel in the world of Torah and yeshiva. The haredi community works by word of mouth, so if we can create a layer of first class haredim in the work force then this can encourage other people to reach for this level. If people in the community can see that there are successful, high-achieving haredi men and women in the economy, in business, in industry, who serve as doctors and other positions, then they will be impressed and want to achieve something similar. If on the other hand they see people who leave yeshiva but earning less than they do in full time religious study, or not getting employed, then they will ask themselves why they should leave yeshiva in the first place,” the Institute’s Dr. Haim Zicherman, whose recommendations to a task force on the issue were incorporated into the cabinet’s decision, said.