Thursday, December 18, 2008

AG: Preferment for Arabs Only

Gil Ronen AG: Preferment for Arabs Only

Attorney General Menachem Mazuz said Wednesday that he opposes reverse discrimination – or corrective preferment, as it is known in Hebrew – for Hareidi-religious Jews in government service. At the same time, he is strongly in favor of such preferment for Arab citizens of Israel.. Mazuz spoke before a parliamentary subcommittee headed by Knesset Member Ahmed Tibi. The subcommittee is attempting to pass legislation that would give Arabs preferment in the process of hiring employees for government service. The legislation is being blocked by Hareidi lawmakers who want the preferment to include Hareidi Jews as well.

'Hareidis don't make an effort'

"I have my doubts, whether the Hareidis' problem is that they encounter obstacles, or that they simply do not make an effort to enter the civil service," Mazuz told the committee. "We already have Hareidis in the system and if there are obstacles blocking them from integrating, they are of a completely different kind," he opined.

Mazuz said he hoped that the Hareidi obstacle to the legislation would be removed in the next Knesset.

"I see tremendous importance in the government's active initiative regarding the integration of the Arab public into government service, as in all systems in Israel," Mazuz said. "The decision to grant them corrective preferment and designated posts was correct and necessary. When their starting point is so inferior, drastic action is needed to set the process in motion. We can decrease the intensity [of the interventio if the process becomes a part of the routine," he explained.

Arabs are 9 Percent of Civil Service

Mazouz said that there was already some "improvement" in the number of Arabs in civil service. The fact that the subject was on the public agenda has already led to an increase of 30 percent in the number of Arab civil servants and that they now comprise 9 percent of the workforce.

Mazuz said that the process of integrating Arabs had gained steam as a result of the "openness" generated by the Oslo process, but had suffered a setback after the Arab riots of 2000.

Mazuz said that he is also actively promoting Arabs within the judicial system. "In order for us to have Arab judges in the Supreme Court, there must first be enough Arab district judges -- and even an Arab district prosecutor, which we do not have at present," Mazuz stated.

Mazouz may have meant that he wants to see a Muslim Arab in the Supreme Court. There already is an Arab Supreme Court judge: Salim Joubran, a Maronite Christian. .

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