Integrating the ultra-Orthodox population into the workforce
Affirmative action for Haredim or cronyism?
On Sunday, Israel’s cabinet approved an affirmative action initiative enabling more ultra-Orthodox workers to find employment in the civil service, as part of Shas’s leader, Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri’s strategy to integrate the Haredi community into the civil service.
Uri Regev 23/12/2015 00:14
Minister Aryeh Deri, leader of Shas Party
We at Hiddush have stressed, on numerous occasions, the critical importance of drastically increasing the participation of ultra-Orthodox men in the workforce. If Minister Deri truly wants to bring ultra-Orthodox employees into the labor market, he should direct the children in Shas's school network to study at yeshivas that offer core curricular studies, and convince his fellow ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazi leaders to integrate core curricular studies into their schools.
Before the Shas Party speaks out against discrimination faced by the ultra-Orthodox population in the civil service, they should recall that the primary responsibility for the current situation lies with the ultra-Orthodox political parties, which have historically done everything imaginable to limit their own voters' access to general education. Even today, their incorporation of general studies is very partial, and they have demonstrated tremendous reluctance to participate in universal testing aimed at measuring achievements in core curricular studies.
Most important of all: these integration plans must be carried out in accordance with professional and educational objective standards so that candidates enhance the quality of the civil service, and so that they will not simply be accepted because of their political and family connections and granted jobs as cronies.
The State of Israel should absolutely support programs to train ultra-Orthodox civil servants. Of course, we must make certain that such programs do not exclude female applicants, that candidates accepted into these programs are willing to work with women and treat them with fully equality. Affirmative action towards ultra-Orthodox men in the civil service cannot result with exclusion of women or other gender-related conflicts. It must also be guaranteed that those ultra-Orthodox men who have served in the Israel Defense Forces receive preference, and perhaps most important of all: these integration plans must be carried out in accordance with professional and educational objective standards, meeting the relevant qualification requirements of the specific positions and the demands of the civil service, so that candidates enhance the quality of the civil service, rather than erode it, and so that they will not simply be accepted because of their political and family connections and granted jobs as cronies.