Hotel Group Bashes Ministry Campaign Against Hiring Illegal Foreign Workers

Campaign depicts different Israelis like "Noa Harel, a student" as not being able to find a job because employers prefer foreign workers.

The Interior Ministry's ad campaign against employing illegal foreign workers while Israelis are left without jobs is misleading, according to the head of the Israel Hotels Association.

In a letter written last week to Sharon Kedmi, director general of the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, IHA head Shmuel Zurel protested the campaign - which depicts "Eli Shemesh, father of four," "Rani Carmel, demobilized soldier" and "Noa Harel, a student" as not being able to find a job because employers prefer foreign workers.

"For a long time we have been desperate for some 4,500 workers in hotels in Israel," Zurel wrote.

"There is work in the big cities and the outlying areas from Dan to Eilat. Men and women are wanted for a variety of jobs, some that are even mentioned in the ad as if there are no jobs for Israelis - and that is just not the case," he added.

A foreign worker in a hothouse at the moshav Ahituv.
Itzik Ben-Malki

Persistence pays off

Zurel, who would like to propose a different advertising campaign about offering jobs to Israelis, said the hotel industry "has an image of hard work without proper remuneration, and so Israelis don't even turn to us to find out what we're offering."

He added that while some jobs are physically demanding, that is not the case for all of them, explaining that the work is varied with good pay and incentives for those who persist, with possibilities for advancement and shift work, which is suitable for many.

"But it looks like Israelis don't want to work and make money. In Eilat we employ many refugees who very much want to work, but we do not want to base the industry on foreign workers alone," Zurel said.

The Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry says it is aware that Israelis do not seek jobs perceived to be relatively difficult. Still, it is determined to train Israelis for those jobs.

"Director-General Kedmi is to meet with the head of the Israel Hotels Association to map out its needs and requirements for using the tools at our disposal, among them the unemployment bureau and the possibility of a focused ad campaign," a statement from the ministry said.