Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

19 Tammuz 5767 - July 5, 2007 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Reject Bill to Guarantee Chareidim Fair Representation in Directorates of Public Companies

By Eliezer Rauchberger

At the end of a boisterous debate the Knesset plenum rejected a bill by MK Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz that would have required that members of the chareidi sector be represented on the boards of directors of government corporations, ministries and other public and semi-public units, in addition to the Knesset, the President's Office and the State Comptroller's Office.

MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni was removed from the hall after loudly protesting against the coalition and the government for opposing the law, thereby lending a hand to ongoing discrimination against the chareidi public.

The bill drew only 17 supporters against 33 opponents from Kadima, Labor, Yisrael Beiteinu, Pensioners — and Meretz as well, even though Meretz is in the opposition.

The supporters were from UTJ, HaIchud HaLeumi, the Likud, Arab parties and 4 of 12 Shas MKs, who backed the law despite the fact that the government and the coalition — of which they are a part — took a stand against it.

In presenting the law Rabbi Ravitz said that all he was asking is that just as the law requires reasonable representation for women, handicapped people and Arabs, so too should chareidim be entitled to fair representation.

He noted that just one day earlier the Knesset plenum passed a law providing equitable representation for Arabs because the MKs saw it as affirmative action. "The chareidi public is also discriminated against and therefore this discrimination needs to be rectified," he said.

Minister Yaakov Edri presented the government's opposition to the law, saying that agreeing to preferential treatment for one segment of the population or another constitutes affirmative action for that sector. "A board of directors is a body selected on the basis of representation, and its aim is not to reflect the various segments of the Israeli public," said Edri.

The bill lacks specific evidence of the presence of discrimination or under-representation, he claimed, and even if it proved to be true that chareidim are under-represented, that fact does not necessarily stem from discrimination, and "the cumulative effect of legislative efforts to provide fair representation for various sectors could harm government corporations themselves."

Rabbi Gafni objected to the arguments vociferously, calling the government and the coalition hypocritical and saying "they want the chareidim to be hewers of trees and drawers of water, while making Arabs corporate directors." Eventually the meeting chairman ordered Rabbi Gafni removed after disrupting the meeting for a prolonged period of time.


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