Interview / 'It's trivial to hire Arab academics'
In absolute numbers, out of state employees, there are only 4,200 Arabs and very few make it high in the ranks of government service.
We asked Ayman Seif, general director of the Authority for the Economic Development of Minorities at the Prime Minister's Office, if it's true that there aren't many Arabs in Israeli government service. Apparently it is.
"We are 20% of the population, but only 7% of the employees of the state are Arabs," Seif says. In absolute numbers, out of state employees, there are only 4,200 Arabs, he says. Moreover, very few make it high in the ranks of government service.
Why is this so?
"In my opinion the situation is completely twisted. It was only in 1994 that the first positions in government were earmarked for Arab citizens. The situation has improved since then. There is a trend of hiring Arabs by government. The figures speak for themselves and Israeli governments have admitted that there has been discrimination against Arabs .... The pace is slow but we're on the right track."
What can be done to change things?
"Government offices need to realize that it's trivial to absorb Arab academics, to encourage the Arab population to apply for government tenders. We're trying to work in both these directions.
"There is a lack of awareness, perhaps ignorance, fear of the different. That isn't just in the government sector, it's in the private sector as well. I say, let's talk about ignorance - that they don't realize there are excellent Arab academics who can provide good, efficient help in the private sphere, and the public one as well."