During a Knesset plenum meeting last week MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni raised a proposal to address discrimination against the chareidi sector in the job market.
"There is no genuine desire to integrate chareidim into the Israeli workforce," he said. "The Finance Minister will come along and say he's in favor, and the Trade and Employment Minister, the Prime Minister and the Education Minister will all voice their support, but in practice nothing gets done. In fact, obstacles are created because they don't want to incorporate the chareidim into the work market. When it comes to chareidim there is no equality. No government decision. They spew bald-faced lies, because it fuels provocation. It's the ministers who don't want to work, not the chareidim. The ministers don't want to confront and solve the problem."
At the end of the plenum a decision was reached to hold an expanded plenum discussion on the topic in the future.
"There is a consensus on a number of lies," continued Rabbi Gafni. "The public and the media are fed lies, because it's easy to use them to instigate against various segments of the population. Blatant lies that everybody can see through and the lie that the chareidi public doesn't work because it doesn't want to go out and work."
He noted that many in the chareidi community do learn Torah full-time, and without this segment Am Yisroel and the entire world would be unable to exist, but he also noted that many chareidim, men and women alike, hold down jobs and would like to be able to work in the Civil Service, in the municipalities and at private businesses.
As an example he cited the tax consultants law he sponsored, which was passed by the Knesset. It states that women with recognized certificates from the Gold Institute can serve as tax consultants. Yet the Tax Authority violates the law, not allowing them to work as tax consultants and requiring them to pass various exams not stipulated in the law.
"The Finance Minister says the failure of chareidim to integrate into the workforce harms the GDP, but the truth is that they're not wanted and the government creates unjustified obstacles. And then of course headlines appear saying the chareidim don't want to enter the job market," he said.
He also noted the Knesset has frequently supported affirmative action in the work market to advance women, Arabs, immigrants and the handicapped. "Only when I demanded affirmative action for chareidim did they not agree, based on the strange and perplexing explanation that there is no way to define who is chareidi. Thirty-seven percent of Jerusalem residents are chareidi and only 1.2 percent of municipality workers are chareidi. Is that normal? No other sector is so heavily discriminated against. It's simply that there's an ideological battle against the chareidi public. That's the story behind it, therefore nobody genuinely wants to integrate chareidim into the workforce."