Jewish Only Employment Site Appeals Against Court Ruling Citing Discriminatory Practice - مركز مساواة لحقوق المواطنين العرب في اسرائيل

Jewish Only Employment Site Appeals Against Court Ruling Citing Discriminatory Practice

The Jerusalem district court will hear the appeal during the year. On October 16th 2017, the local court ruled that a job listings website, Avodah Ivrit, publishing job vacancies exclusively for Jews, was acting illegally. The case was submitted by the Mossawa Center alongside the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) and was later joined by The Commission for Equal opportunities in Employment. In January 2018 the District Court released a decision to hear Avodah Ivrit’s appeal on February 11th.

In September 2014, the Mossawa Center, alongside the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), filed a lawsuit against the website for its violation of Israel’s anti-discrimination laws. The website was publishing job vacancies by businesses and employers that were seeking exclusively Jewish staff, as well as allowing exclusively Jewish job seekers to post advertisements whilst prohibiting Arab citizens from using the service.

The website alleged that hiring non-Jews posed a “security threat” to the Jewish people, allowing users to describe the benefits of employing Jews, with members citing the “satisfaction of employing my Jewish brothers, rather than giving money to those who are deemed my enemies”. The co-founder and primary defendant of Avodah Ivrit, Erez Liberman, who was supported by the extreme right group “Derech Haim,” denied that the website discriminated against non-Jews, claiming that it was doing “good for the Jewish people”. Whilst Liberman claimed that his website was based on the Jewish character of the Israeli state, and that the case against him was based entirely on the notion of Israel as a democratic state, Judge Einat Abman-Muller ruled that the website and its customers’ preference for Jews contravened the law prohibiting discrimination in the provision of public services on the basis of religion, race, or nationality. Judge Muller ruled that Liberman should pay 40 thousand NIS as a fine and 7500 NIS for legal fees. Adv. Orly Erez-Likhovskire presented the Mossawa Center and IRAC in this case.

Prejudice towards Arabs in employment practices in Israel is systemic, and this appeal marks a concerning disregard for behavior that directly discriminates against the Arab community in Israel, 20% of the country’s overall population. In searching for employment, many Arab citizens face formal and informal discrimination from many sources. Despite the Equal Employment Opportunities Law stating that employers shall not ask applicants or employees for their military profile, employers continue to use military service as a prerequisite for consideration and acceptance for employment. In many cases, requests for such information bear no relation to the nature of the work but are used to directly exclude all Arab workers as they are exempted as a minority group from the obligation of military service.

This form of discrimination based on military service is incorporated both explicitly and implicitly in several national laws. This includes the ‘Absorption of Discharged Soldiers Law’ that states that individuals who have served in the Israeli military are entitled to a broad range of social and economic benefits - incorporating educational and housing grants - that automatically exclude Arab citizens.

A 2016 OECD report found Israel to have one of the most unequal economies amongst its member states.  Arab men’s salaries are only 61% of the amount earned by their Jewish counterparts. An employment rate gap is also apparent, with 41% employment amongst Arab citizens, compared with 59.6% among Jewish Israelis.  Only 21% of Arab women in Israel are employed compared to a 57.9% employment rate amongst Jewish women. In 2016 the rate of Arab women employed part-time for lack of choice was more than three times the rate found among their Jewish counterparts with 35% versus 11%.

The data show that the ruling of the judge in this case is but the first step in a long journey to confront the wide-spread, systemic discrimination found not just in individual websites but across networks of institutions and organisations that work to obstruct the rights of Arab citizens in Israel. The criminal unit in charge of employment in the Ministry of Industry, The police, as well the department in charge of incitement in the office of the Attorney General have not yet taken action against the website. 

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