MK Erel Margalit (Labor) said on Tuesday that hareidi-religious Jews in Israel wish to make a decent living, criticizing those who discriminate against hareidim based on their physical appearance.
In a post on his Facebook page, Margalit wrote, "The hareidim are parasites who do not want to work and want live off our backs? No, I really do not think so."
He added, “Such statements even revolt me, but how many times in life have we judged people based on their appearance or ethnicity? How many times have we developed hatred based on a stereotype? I met these guys (hareidim) today. They all studied. They are all qualified engineers. They all dream about integrating in the high-tech world. They really want to work and support their families with dignity.”
Margalit admitted that being a hareidi-religious Jew "is problematic in today’s secular workplace, and certainly in high-tech. They send in resumes and the employers understand, based on their names, the number of children they have and their educational backgrounds, that they are hareidim and do not invite them for interviews. And if they come for an interview, employers are daunted by their looks. And if they manage to get the job then they are paid a lot less.”
Hareidim, said Margalit, “are viewed as cheap labor. It does not matter that they have studied like everyone else and did some military or national service - they will always be viewed as ‘those hareidim.' We fail to see them as individuals and only see them as one group.”
Margalit criticized the State of Israel which, he says, “kicks the hareidim” and “does not even allocate the budgets for employers who hire hareidim. Everything is done only for the sake of appearance, it’s all make-believe. That’s how you push an entire population outside the fence instead of making it an integral part of society.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Finance Minister Yair Lapid said that Israel’s official unemployment rate is low, but that does not reflect the country’s economic reality. The reason for this, he said, is that entire sectors of society are not employed, but are not counted as “unemployed” because they are not seeking work.
He named hareidi-religious men and Arab women as two groups that rarely join the workforce.
“They aren’t listed as unemployed because they aren’t even looking for work. We’re changing that now,” he said.
“The plan for ‘equal burden of service,’ along with the national plan for job training that we are currently creating along with the Ministry of Economy and Trade, will change the Israeli workforce,” Lapid declared. “We will train people to work in high-tech and in production, we will encourage local entrepreneurship and small businesses, and we will boost industrial areas in the north and south.”
MK Menachem Eliezer Moses (United Torah Judaism) dismissed Lapid’s comments as an illusion.
"Yesh Atid waves the flag of integrating hareidim into the job market, but it is an illusion because there is no such thing as a job market! There is no such thing as jobs," said Moses.
“The figured recently released by the Central Bureau of Statistics suggest the following: 5.8 people vie for every single job. This means that more than a quarter million people vie for 64,000 jobs, ranging from clerical work to plasterers, etc. Exactly where do you want to throw 100,000 hareidi scholars? Into which market? What is your goal, to add the yeshiva students whose budgets are cut to the circle of unemployment?”
"I have to spoil the party for the Deputy Minister of Finance,” Moses said, responding to Deputy Finance Minister Mickey Levy, who claimed that the hareidim are picky and that if they settle for simple jobs such as nursing, construction and driving buses, then everyone will be able to find employment.
“The figures of the Central Bureau of Statistics show that the number of job vacancies includes all types of work such as chipping, drivers, caregivers and cleaners. All the jobs are included and six times more people than can be hired are vying for the same job. The supply today cannot meet the number of unemployed people. So stop tricking us with this demagoguery of ‘Go to work, the market is waiting for you,’" said Moses.