by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth
Unemployed computer engineer
Morad Lashin would like
to work in Israel’s Electricity Company, a large state utility, but
chances of being recruited are slim.
The reasons were set out in
graphic form this month
when a parliamentary committee revealed that only 1.3 per cent of the
12,000 workers are Arab, despite the Arab minority constituting nearly
cent of the population.
The committee’s report presents
a picture of massive
under-representation of Arab citizens across most of the public sector,
including in government companies and ministries, where the percentage
staff typically falls below two per cent of employees.
According to Sikkuy, a group
lobbying for greater
civic equality, discriminatory hiring policies have left thousands of
graduates jobless, even though the government promised affirmative
Mr Lashin, 30, from Nazareth,
said his remaining hope
was to find a job in the public sector after a series of short-term
in private hi-tech firms. “Everywhere you go, they ask if you have
the army. Because Arab citizens are exempt, the good jobs are always
Ali Haider, a co-director of
Sikkuy, said: “What kind
of example is set for the Israeli private sector when the government
consistently finds excuses not to employ Arab citizens too?”
Ahmed Tibi, who heads the
parliamentary committee on
Arab employment in the public sector, said that even when government
appointed Arabs it was invariably in lowly positions. “The absence of
[senior] roles means that they have no say in the ministries’
processes,” he said.
The issue of
under-representation in Israel’s public
sector was first acknowledged by officials in 2000, when the Fair
Representation Law was passed under pressure from Arab political
However, no target was set for
the proportion of Arab
employees until 2004, when the government agreed that within four years
should comprise 10 per cent of all staff in ministries, state bodies and
boards of hundreds of government companies. Later the deadline was
Known and very popular cialis coupon which gives all the chance to receive a discount for a preparation which has to be available and exactly cialis coupons has been found in the distant room of this big house about which wood-grouses in the houses tell.
The new report found that
overall six per cent of the
country’s 57,000 public sector workers were Arab, only marginally higher
But Mr Tibi noted that the
figures were substantially
boosted by the large number of “counter staff” in the interior, welfare,
and education ministries employed to provide basic services inside Arab
On publication of the report
this month, Avishai
Braverman, the minorities minister, admitted there was no hope of
the delayed target. He criticised his own government for not setting its
higher, at 20 per cent representation.
The committee’s findings, said
Mr Tibi, showed
officials had systematically broken their promises on fair
noted that even in the parliament itself there were only six Arab
of 439, or 1.6 per cent. “What does it say that in the temple of Israeli
democracy there is such rank discrimination?”
Similar percentages were found
in key government
departments, including the prime minister’s office, the foreign
treasury, the housing ministry, and the trade and industry ministry, as
such state agencies as the Bank of Israel, the Land Administration and
The Organisation for Economic
Development, to which Israel acceded last week, reported last year that
Arab graduates were either unemployed or forced into work outside their
professions, often as teachers.
Mr Tibi said he was
particularly concerned that there
were no Arabs in key roles inside government ministries. “Not by chance
there no senior Arab civil servants, no deputy directors in the
legal advisers,” he said.
He said the absence of Arab
reflected in the lack of public services and resources made available to
communities. Poverty among Arab families is three times higher than
Yousef Jabareen, director of
the Dirasat policy centre
in Nazareth, said increased recruitment of Arab workers by the
solve at a stroke two urgent problems: the large pool of Arab graduates
could not find work, and the community’s lack of influence on national
He added that discrimination
against Arabs was “built
into the institutional structure of a Jewish state”.
The report was received with
hostility by some MPs.
Yariv Levin, chairman of the parliament’s House Committee and a member
minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, said the report was
ignores the fundamental fact that a significant portion of Israel’s
disloyal to the state”.
Saleem Marna, 37, who graduated
as an information
systems engineer 10 years ago from the prestigious Technion University
Haifa, said he had given up hope of finding regular work in either the
or public sectors.
Married with four children, he
said he had applied to
emigrate to Canada. “I am hopeful that being an Arab won’t count against
Hatim Kanaaneh, a
Harvard-educated doctor who worked
as one of the few senior Arab officials in the Israeli health ministry
his resignation in the early 1990s, documented the many battles he faced
government bureaucracy in his recent book Doctor in Galilee.
Dr Kanaaneh said no Arab had
ever risen above the
position of sub-district physician he held two decades ago. Although the
ministry had the largest number of Arab employees of any ministry, he
had ever been appointed to a policy-making position.
“In fact, people in the
ministry tell me things have
gone backwards under recent right-wing governments.”
He added that the lack of Arab
government had concrete consequences that damaged the Arab community.
worked in the health ministry, he noted, the Arab infant mortality rate
twice that of the Jewish population. Two decades later the ratio of Arab
Jewish infant deaths, rather than declining, had increased by a further
The prejudice faced by educated
employment was highlighted by a survey last November. It found that 83
of Israeli businesses in the main professions admitted being opposed to
Yossi Coten, director of a
training programme in
Nazareth, said of 84,000 jobs in the country’s hi-tech industries, only
were filled by Arab engineers.
Jonathan Cook is a writer and
journalist based in
Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of
Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and
“Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed
His website is www.jkcook.net.