‘THE HAREDI community is undergoing a lengthy process of change of outlook regarding such integration.’.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Like most of his predecessors in office, President Reuven Rivlin has since the day of his inauguration called for greater integration of the Arab sector into the mainstream workforce.
He did so again on Sunday at Globes’ annual Israel Business Conference when he urged that not only Arabs but haredim join the workforce in order to narrow the income gaps and to reduce inequality in all sectors of the population.
To strengthen his argument, Rivlin quoted from the Gini index which measures income distribution, and said that gaps had narrowed somewhat over the past year because more haredi men and more Arab women had joined the workforce.
He suggested that the continued removal of obstacles to their employment would result in integration in far greater numbers in all sectors of industry, thereby contributing to the economy.
Rivlin insisted that this was a vital step that must be taken, and challenged the leaders of the economy to take it immediately.
Leaving aside for a moment considerations of social justice and equal opportunity, if such a measure is not undertaken, Rivlin explained, it will hamper economic growth, because there will be fewer people to buy the goods and services that the leaders of Israel’s economy produce.
Over the past 18 months, the President’s Office together with prominent Israeli companies initiated a collective impact venture in the Arab sector which has resulted in positive change, but not yet on a sufficiently large scale.
Rivlin’s predecessor Shimon Peres advocated similar measures, including integrating Arabs into hi-tech industries.
In February, 2011, Peres formed a coalition with the nation’s top hi-tech companies aimed at integrating more Arabs and haredim into diverse ventures.
Rivlin has enthusiastically taken this a step further, and will continue to do so, he said. Yet, of the 120 staff on the payroll at the President's Residence, only 2 are Arabs.