Jews-only Work Listing Website Fined for 'Racial and Religious Discrimination' in Israel

Hebrew Labor Classified website fined $11,000 after Israeli government officials join civil rights groups in taking them to court

FILE PHOTO: A Palestinian worker at an Israeli construction site
Ilan Assayag

An Israeli court ruled Tuesday that a website offering classified ads only for Jewish Israelis is discriminatory and fined it 40,000 shekel (over $11,000). The website Hebrew Labor Classified ("Loach Avoda Ivrit," in Hebrew), which encourages employing only Jews, was found to offer a service that "discriminates on the basis of race and religion" by a Jerusalem court.

The suit against the website was lodged by the Israel Religious Action Center, the Mossawa Center (The Advocacy Center For Arab Citizens In Israel) and was joined by the equal opportunities commissioner in the Labor Ministry, as part of an attempt to safeguard the recognition of "rights enshrined in legislation regarding labor."

The site offers a list of businesses, employers and jobseekers and stresses the dangers in employing workers who "are not bnei brit" – a term which can mean both allies and non-Jewish adults. The term "Hebrew Labor" harkens back to the early days of Zionism, when Jewish immigrants from Europe were encouraged to be independent and work farming lands on their own to realize the Zionist dream of a secular, independent Jewish state.

The website is full of stories about "the good feeling [one gets from] employing Jews" or the "satisfaction of only employing your brothers and not giving money to those defined as our enemy."

The Labor Ministry's equal opportunities commission said it was opposing the site, saying that the goal of posting job listings only for Jews was "to encourage the public to avoid employing non-Jews, especially Arab workers," a practice they described as "severely violating the principle of equality."

After the ruling lambasted the site for the discriminatory practice, the commission's lawyer said they "were pleased" and that the ruling "sends a clear message that encouraging discrimination as forbidden by law and contradicts the values of the state."

The commissioner herself also commented, saying that the ruling shows that "there is not room in Israel for discrimination in the labor market."