Are the lack of higher education and vocational training what prevent haredim,
Arabs and people with disabilities from taking a significant part in the work
force? Apparently not. The Ono Report 2010, released on Tuesday, set out to
challenge that premise, by shining a spotlight on the problematic attitudes to
those “excluded” groups, prevalent in Israeli society and specifically
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The report, which followed the Ono Report 2009 but also
explored new grounds, scrutinized three fields of employment – high-tech,
medical services and government offices – and found that the most imbedded
deterrence among employers in those groups was to hiring people with limitations
(physical or developmental/psychiatric).
But even if a disabled person,
or an Arab or haredi, did have the good fortune of being employed, their chances
of promotion were even smaller than of getting hired, despite a good track
record of employment.
Dr. Erez Ya’acovi, one of the report’s six authors,
pointed out in his opening presentation that a vast majority of employers
wouldn’t want to promote a haredi working for them, without thinking they were
less capable. Ya’acovi noted two bills his institute was intent on promoting at
the Knesset, aimed at “shattering the glass ceiling.”
chairman of the college, Ra’anan Hartman, addressed the prevalent claim in
Israeli society that “if haredim and Arabs only served in the army,” the
attitude toward them would be different.
“Don’t immigrants from Ethiopia
and Druse serve in the IDF?” he asked. “What we need more than more reports are
to continue producing success stories [from the excluded groups in society]
since those are what break the walls of separation in society.”
Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer noted the many efforts his
ministry was making to promote the inclusion of those groups in the
He criticized recommendations made by Eyal Gabai, the Prime
Minister’s Office director- general, exempting haredim from age 29 of military
service. Gabai’s report, aimed at finding ways to promote employment among Arabs
and haredim, was recently accepted by the government.
distances us from our goal – more training, help with child care is what could
have helped,” Ben-Eliezer said to an audience that included Gabai.
is the power of coalition? The weakness of its components,” he said, noting that
he could get almost any budget he requested for vocational training and support
to employed mothers.
“But that clashes with a political problem,” he said
of the haredi parties’ objection to a change in the norm of kollel students
receiving subsidiaries. “Some of our decisions are political,” he continued.
“Gabai’s report contradicts the government recommendations to bring more Arabs
and haredim into the workforce.
“The growth of haredi and Arab
populations necessitates that they work, not only for the future of the economy,
but also of the groups to support themselves, and be an equal part of society,”
he said. “It is their responsibility to overcome the barriers of culture [and]
religion. Without their desire, we can’t reach a joint solution.
is a window of opportunity for haredi employment,” Ben-Eliezer said of the
haredi leadership, who recently met with him on the topic. “They want to break
out of poverty.
Seeing the squalor in which some of that population lives
is hard, and can’t be solved by saying ‘God willing.’ “I believe in God,” Ben-
Eliezer continued, “and that he helps those who help themselves.”
himself defended the government’s stance by saying that “dealing with a 30 year
old going into the army today is important, but taking care of that group in 15
years will be critical,” referring to the high rate of growth in the haredi
society. The Finance Ministry was concerned that insufficient numbers of
haredim, who are likely to compose a larger segment of the population in the
future, will be employed.
The ministry will therefore push as hard as
possible for the swift and painless entry of haredim into the workforce, even if
it means exempting them from military service.
Gabai further noted the
impossibility of changing a long-standing situation in one stroke, such as the
exemption of haredim from the IDF.
“Whoever goes to work is rarely part
of the poor segment of society, even if that poverty is a choice,” he said of
the haredim. “The goal is to balance between two public needs, that of the
security burden, and the economics of the country.
The desire from 10 or
20 years ago – that all haredim serve in the army – isn’t true today. Now it’s
right to exempt some, to make a shorter service,” so that more might join the
workforce, something they cannot do as long as they postpone their military
service to learn Torah.
“In the future it might be more natural for
haredim to be in army, and then join employment,” he added.
question of the IDF’s attitude towards enlisting haredim, Gabai said that “the
army really wants them, but on the ethos level.
Taking a haredi man with
three children into the military costs money. But not taking them is an ethical
We reached an agreement with army on everything – serving less
time, exempting individuals with three children, giving more money to enable
accepting haredim – but only on the age of exemption we have yet to agree.”