Below is an update from Haaretz to the article on how Jewish Labour is alive and kicking in Israel Railways. It should be stressed that Histadrut, the settler Jewish 'union' has so far remained entirely silent because it knows full well that everything Israel Railways has done, it too has done when it was a major employer. In practice Histadrut, being the representative of Jewish workers and committed to the Zionist ideal supports the actions of Israel Railways.
It should also be remembered that Histadrut and its Secretary-General Ofer Eini, was prime among those urging the Israeli Labour Party to JOIN the coalition of Netanyahu and Lieberman.
As the Independent 25.3.09. reported:
'The deal reached between Mr Barak and Mr Netanyahu.... was strongly promoted by a key Labour Party figure, Ofer Eini, the chairman of the Histradrut, Israel's TUC, who declared after yesterday's meeting in Tel Aviv: "I'm happy that party delegates have decided to enter the government."
To expect this pathetic settler representative of a settler working class to object to settler racism is akin to expecting kosher pigs to fly.
The dismissal letters sent to 40 Arab employees of Israel Railways did not come as much of a surprise. For weeks now, the company had been seeking the legal phrasing that would allow the layoffs to proceed. First, it announced fresh demand for several roles, mostly having to do with security, such as watchmen for the train tracks. All candidates would have to have served in the Israel Defense Forces.
When it turned out this contravened the principle of equality in employment, the company tried to argue that the jobs in question had a specific security aspect. But a letter sent by Palestinian rights organization Adalah to the company's management and the Transportation Ministry reveals that this argument is just as flawed, contravening the Basic Law on Freedom of Occupation.
Now the company says it only wanted to encourage the employment of recently demobilized soldiers, and that it will do its best to relocate the laid-off Arab workers to other, non-security positions. The workers, who know plenty of Jewish and other colleagues who didn't serve in the army but got to keep their jobs, can find some solidarity in the experiences of their relatives and neighbors, who will have gone through similar experiences at other companies and even at some ministries.
A dreamed-up security demand is one of the oldest tricks to reject Arab candidates in job interviews. It happens to ordinary workers as well as to outstanding researchers and scientists who cannot find work in their field and are forced to retrain as nurses and physicians.
Since the electoral success of Avigdor Lieberman's campaign slogan "No loyalty, no citizenship," many people say the country has been hit by a dangerous wave of racism. But excluding Arab workers from Israeli society in general and the job market in particular did not begin last week, and Israel Railways, along with the interior and finance ministries, did not wait for Lieberman for them to be discriminatory.
In the past few years, organizations like Adalah, Kav Mashve, Mossawa and Sikkuy have confronted the system; they dedicate considerable resources to integrating Arabs into the job market and bringing about gradual change. In 2008, 8 percent of the employees at ministries and state-owned companies were Arabs, compared with 0.1 percent a decade earlier. True, many of the workers are in the middle and lower ranks, and the number of Arab directors in state-owned companies is close to zero, but the trend is positive.
This trend was contravened this week. The railway layoffs may not have been inspired by Lieberman, but the spirit he contributes makes them look particularly ominous. New entries into the job market will be more wary, and suspicion and insult will trump both hope and trust.
The integration of Arabs into Israeli society is no meager task; Arab haters denounce them as "separatists" while worrying they might integrate. These critics reach for separatism as an excuse for excluding them. Every withdrawal from the achievements of recent years will sow the seeds of radicalization and despair.