Affirmative action for immigrants and haredim? A new bill aiming to achieve just that is poised to become law, after passing its first reading in the Knesset on Wednesday with no opposition.
The bill, proposed by United Torah Judaism MKs Uri Maklev and Moshe Gafni, would extend existing affirmative action laws to both recent immigrants and haredim, requiring preferential hiring policies be adopted by government agencies and government-owned corporations.
The initiative began after Gafni, who heads the Knesset Finance Committee, discovered that out of 500 directors of government companies, not one was haredi. “This is a racist state,” Gafni reportedly told representatives of the Government Companies Authority. “Out of 500 people chosen for the directors’ board, not one is haredi.”
The law will require adequate representation for both haredim and immigrants in both state-owned companies and the civil service.
Presently, the law requires such representation for women, Arabs, Druze, Circassians, Ethiopians, and people with disabilities.
Despite protests by the Government Companies Authority against the bill, Gafni claimed it would not require lower standards for protected groups.
”This law does not call for giving preference to someone who is less skilled, but to those who are just as skilled,” Gafni said.
”This law is not what will make the change, but it does make a statement that if there are haredim who want to work, we will treat them equally.”