Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet will decide on Sunday whether to endorse proposed legislation that advocates affirmative action for Israelis who have done military or national service.
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A law for the rights of citizens who have contributed to the state has been proposed by coalition chairman MK (Likud) Yariv Levin. The proposed law states, “The granting of preference to citizens who have contributed to the state, including preference in hiring, in working conditions, in the granting of services and in the commissioning of services, shall not be considered discrimination.”
If passed by the Knesset, the law will give preference to Israeli citizens who have served in the Israel Defense Forces or done national service in the allocation of college dormitory rooms and plots of land for the construction of private houses. The proposed law also includes indirect “amendments” of various existing laws that would, for example, grant priority to members of minority groups in hiring for civil service positions if they have done military or national service.
“Since its founding, the State of Israel has been engaged in a continual war of survival,” Levin said in explaining the rationale for his proposed law. “All of Israel’s citizens must therefore take part in its defense and reinforcement. However, for many years, there has been a growing inequality in the shouldering of the burden for defending the state and contributing to it. Furthermore, there are even those who deliberately refrain from taking part in this continual struggle and who display a lack of loyalty to the state and a lack of commitment to the need for protecting its very existence.”
Levin is infuriated by the fact that young Israelis who have not served in the army are able to start their college education at age 18, receive preference in the allocation of dormitory rooms, complete their undergraduate degrees by age 21 and afterwards even receive preference in the job market. Levin argues that those who have contributed to the state through military or national service begin their college education at a later stage in life, lack the financial means for pursuing an education, are forced to rent apartments and pay high rental fees because the dormitories are already full and afterwards are discriminated against in the competition for civil service jobs.