French immigrants in Jerusalem
French immigrants in JerusalemHadas Parush/Flash90

Avraham Naguisa (Likud), the head of the Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, lambasted the bureaucratic barriers immigrants to Israel face, asserting that restrictions on academic achievements abroad were preventing skilled Diaspora Jews from immigrating to Israel.

“As a country that absorbs immigrants, we must remove these obstructions and prevent the immigrants’ return to their countries of origin,” Naguisa told the committee.

The fault, he claimed, lies with ministry workers who refuse to change their policies despite the coalition’s support for reform.

“Israeli bureaucracy is chasing away immigrant academics, and the government ministries are ignoring the government’s decision to remove the obstacles.”

At present, Israeli law bars immigrants with degrees earned in overseas institutions from practice in a wide range of fields, requiring them to take time consuming and often costly Israeli licensing programs. Doctors, accountants, lawyers, nurses, investment consultants, engineers, electricians, and architects are among those affected.

Jewish Agency official Meir Lopatinsky also condemned the Israeli Health Ministry for “preventing nurses from finding employment in Israel”.

However, Ruth Rothstein, an official representing the Health Ministry, told the committee that the Ministry was not prepared to absorb medical practitioners from outside of Israel.

A French nurse anesthetist who recently immigrated to Israel noted that while the Health Ministry technically offers solutions, in practice there are few options available for immigrants.

“We represent the State of Israel’s total failure in absorption. The studies in France are longer than in Israel, but despite this, many difficulties prevent us from completing the professional test successfully, and then we are forced to take a private course which costs about 14,000 shekels. The Health Ministry offers a course in French, but only for a minimum of 10 people. We have to wait some two years to take the exam, and in the meantime we are forced to work as waiters. We are Zionists and want to live in Israel, but in Canada we are not faced with such difficulties.”