Blue or white collar, racism prevails in Israel’s job market

By Yossi Dahan (Translated from Hebrew by Noam Benishei)

New research into discrimination in the Israeli employment market reinforces findings from previous studies: the resumes of Yuval Hershkowitz and Eden Almog are still going to generate far more consideration than those submitted by Yuval Amsalem and Waleed Houri.

Yuval Hershkowitz, an Ashkenazi Jew, and Yuval Amsalem, a Mizrahi Jews, graduated from the same high school. They recently completed their military service, where they were both trained in counterterrorism. Both of them sent their resumes by email to potential employers seeking to recruit security guards. Their application letters were sent to employers in six different regions around Israel; the number of replies Hershkowitz received from employers asking for more information was double what Amsalem received. He also got twice as many invitations to in-person interviews.

Eden Almog, a Jew, and Waleed Houri, an Arab, both live in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan. They both attended the same high school, graduated cum laude from the Hebrew University’s law school and served as teaching assistants. The two interned with the State Attorney’s office. Both are proficient in Hebrew and English, while Houri also has full command of Arabic. Almog and Houri alike have engaged in volunteer work with disadvantaged adults and children. Almog served in the army, while Houri performed his civil national service in a hospital. Eighty-nine of their resumes were sent to prominent Israeli law firms (not the same ones, but rather randomly-selected firms of a similar standing). Almog’s resume garnered twice as many receipt confirmations as Houri’s, and he received four times as many interview invitations as his counterpart.

job discriminationThese grim findings concerning the discrimination of Arabs and Mizrahim in the Israeli employment market are the results of a study by Barak Ariel, Ilanit Tobby-Alimi, Irit Cohen, Mazal Ezra and Yaffa Cohen of the Hebrew University, who sent those fictitious resumes to different Israeli employers. One unique feature of this study lies in the fact that it looks into discrimination at both ends of the employment market, the upper one comprising lawyers while the lower one featuring security guards.

One of researchers’ more interesting proposals for fighting discrimination based on ethnicity and nationality is to forbid employers from demanding applicants disclose their name in their resumes. In the United States, for instance, there are federal laws in place that forbid employers from inquiring about race, age, country of origin, disabilities and other personal characteristics. Why not outlaw disclosing one’s name, which constitutes a basis for discrimination based on ethnicity and nationality in the employment market?

The new study was presented this week as part of an interesting, international conference, “Human Rights and Human Mind,” organized by my colleagues Moshe Cohen-Eliya and Iddo Porat of the College of Law and Business, Ramat Gan. To read this study as well as others presented at the conference, click here.

Yossi Dahan is a professor of law and head of the human rights program at the College of Law and Business in Ramat Gan. He also teaches philosophy at the Open University and is the chairperson of the Adva Center for Information on Equality and Social Justice in Israel.

This post originally appeared in Hebrew on Haokets.

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