Reserve soldiers prepare to deploy in Ashkelon 370.
(photo credit: marc israel sellem / the jerusalem post)
Benefits for those who did IDF or civilian service is racist and discriminatory,
opposition MKs said in a Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee meeting on
the Veteran Benefits Bill Monday.
At the same time, coalition chairman
Yariv Levin (Likud Beytenu) said that compared with other countries, the bill
doesn’t go far enough to reward those who completed their service.
bill attempts to decrease the inequality toward those who finished service and
then want to get a job or higher education, while their friends who didn’t serve
had a three-year advantage,” Levin said The current version of the bill, which
is a softened version of Levin’s original draft following objections from
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, grants
benefits in employment, higher education, buying land and other areas to recent
IDF and civilian service veterans and active reservists.
It passed its
first Knesset reading last month with 52 MKs in favor – including Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu – and 25 opposed.
Livni and Weinstein maintain that it
is legally problematic.
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On called Levin’s
“This Knesset passed laws to prevent
discrimination and have affirmative action, and now this will make
discrimination against haredim, women, Ethiopians and Arabs, who already face
it, legal,” she said.
MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) called Levin
a racist, compared him to deceased Austrian politician Jorg Haider – who was
known for his pro-Nazi and anti- Semitic comments – and said that if there’s a
competition for “who will be most extreme and most fascist, Levin is a top
Tibi also said that, if the law is passed, he will complain
to the OECD, which already criticized Israel for allowing discrimination against
Arabs and haredim in the workplace.
“If we want to recognize those who
serve, we should do it during their service or immediately after. All this law
does is push away populations we want to bring closer to the Israeli ethos,” MK
Miki Rosenthal (Labor) said.
Levin faced criticism from the coalition and
MK Adi Kol (Yesh Atid) who said that those who serve in the army and civilian
service are in a better position than those who don’t in the first
MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Bayit Yehudi) expressed hope that “with
God’s help we will pass this law, and it will only be the beginning of the State
of Israel expressing appreciation for those who chose to serve it and its