IDF History No Longer Key Point for Psychologists to Receive Certification

Ministry announces it will change the rules in response to a letter of complaint about the current process.

The Health Ministry will soon cancel the requirement that psychologists disclose personal details about their service in the Israel Defense Forces in order to be listed in the national psychologists' registry.

The ministry has announced it will change the rules in response to a letter of complaint about the current process that Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman received from MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz ). Currently, psychologists who apply to be listed in the registry, a necessary step in order to be certified to work in the profession, must indicate on their application whether they have served in the IDF and if they completed their tour of duty. If the answer to either of those questions is negative, they must provide documentation of the reason for the exemption or incomplete service.

Alternatively, candidates may sign a form relinquishing confidentiality, and enabling the Health Ministry to communicate directly with the IDF, in order to obtain information about the candidates from their medical files. Those who were exempt or did not complete their service might also be required to submit an evaluation from a veteran psychologist confirming that the applicant is able to function as a psychologist.

According to Gilon, this discriminates between those who have served in the IDF and are required to provide explanations, and those who have not served at all, who ironically, are exempt from providing such sensitive personal information.

"This is a discriminatory practice that illegally and unconstitutionally infringes on an individual's privacy, which constitutes a violation of freedom of occupation and human dignity," wrote Gilon. "This selective requirement is inegalitarian and constitutes clear discrimination." Gilon also said the requirement is contrary to a 1986 military service law, which states that no item of personal military information may be required or used, unless permitted by law.

The Health Ministry said that its director general, Dr. Ronni Gamzu, has recommended eliminating the question from the questionnaire, and in its stead adding to the health declaration section a more focused statement, which the candidate would have to answer with a "true" or "false": 'I hereby declare that I have never left or been dismissed from a place of work, nor have been released from military service or not conscripted at all, because of an illness or poor fitness that prevented me from being able to work.'

Gilon welcomes the change but does not believe it is sufficient. "The formulation is still far from satisfactory," he says. "The question entrenches the applicants at conscription age and potentially allows various events from their past to constitute a blot for their entire lives. The attention should be focused on the psychologists' current qualifications and functioning. After all, illnesses from which psychology students suffered at the time of their conscription to the IDF, a decade or two ago, certainly has no connection to their ability to work in psychology today."