Thirty MKs have no higher education

Estherina Tartman's 'improved' CV is nothing new to personnel professionals.

Tartman degree 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Tartman degree 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Since there is no academic requirement for being a member of Knesset, and several top government officials are without university degrees, one wonders why MK Estherina Tartman, Israel Beiteinu's original choice to be the next tourism minister, felt the need to lie about her qualifications to get ahead. Since she would not return calls to reporters on Thursday, one can only guess at her motives, but recruitment consultants and employment professionals reacted with amusement to the scandal Thursday, saying people falsify their resum s for a variety of reasons. "Stretching the truth on resum s is a well-known problem. Ultimately, people do it to help them get jobs or make advances in their careers," said Asher Meir, research director at the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem. "[Tartman's case] is a classic example of exaggerating or presenting half-truths to create a certain impression."
  • Analysis: The Knesset's scandalous Purimspiel Tartman - who claimed to have a bachelor's degree in accounting and finance administration from Bar-Ilan University and a master's degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem - actually obtained her BA in business administration from the Israel branch of New York's Touro College and never registered for graduate courses at Hebrew University. "Its always amazing to me how people lie about these things when it's so easy for the facts to be checked," said Meir, a Jerusalem Post columnist who has written extensively about officials falsifying their qualifications. Meir said it was increasingly common for businesses to have a "policy of zero tolerance" toward people who lie on their resum . "Of course it has always been bad to lie, but nowadays standards are much higher," he said. "Companies don't want to become involved with such a person." "This kind of situation would most likely not arise in the world of industry," said Elaine Levitt, director of Kedumim Personnel. "We always put our candidates through a thorough screening process, including an interview where we can usually tell if a person is lying about something." "It is not so bad that she did not have these qualifications. She is certainly not the only person in the Knesset who does not have a degree. But what is bad is that she lied about it," Levitt continued. In fact, a simple check of MKs biographies on the Knesset Web site shows that no fewer than 30 lawmakers are without university or equivalent higher education credentials, including MK Benny Elon (National Union-NRP), who twice held the position of tourism minister, Minister for Pensioners Affairs Rafi Eitan (Gil) and Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson (Kadima). Nat Gordon, director of the Marksman International recruitment consultancy firm, said, "Politicians feel they have to prove themselves and impress their peers. There's a lot of competition between them. "Many large multinational companies use private detectives to conduct background checks on potential employees. The government with its massive resources should employ similar checks, at least before someone becomes a government minister," he said. "There is no screening process for Knesset members," said Levitt, who is co-chairman of the Citizen's Empowerment Public Action Campaign, which advocates wide-ranging reforms to the electoral process. "In private industry, even candidates for the lowest level of employment are screened, but even if checks were done on MKs, because of the electoral system, they can not be turned down for their seat." However Meir said the public and the press provided adequate checks and balances on the government. "[Tartman] was not elected to office because of her MBA, but as soon as she told a lie to get the job of a minister she was found out," he said. "The press does a pretty good job of uncovering whether an MK has intentionally misled the public."