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
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
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.