Adalah: Call to hire Israeli elections observers 'with military service' background discriminates against Arab citizens

Private Israeli companies seeking to hire new employees sometimes include a 'military background' requirement as code meaning 'Jews only' need apply.

Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel responded on Wednesday, 28 August 2019 to an ad published to hire national election observers – requiring applicants to have completed "military service" – with an urgent letter calling the military service requirement discrimination against Arab citizens.


Israel's Central Elections Committee (CEC) Chairman Supreme Court Justice Hanan Melcer ruled Monday that no cameras will be permitted in polling stations during the 17 September elections. He added that he would establish a pilot CEC observer unit with body cameras that could be employed, in unusual circumstances, during ballot counting – but not during the voting itself.


Adalah sent the letter to Dean Livne, CEC legal advisor, and to Shmulik Razon, CEO of "Team 3" security firm which was reportedly contracted to establish the observer team initiated by Melcer.


Over the past two days, Team 3 has circulated a job notice indicating "Seeking employees for election day for supervisory tasks, day or evening shift work." In order to apply for the positions, Team 3 specifies: "Full military service is required - mandatory!"


The military service requirement is a code used by Israeli employers seeking to avoid hiring Arab citizens, who are exempted by Israeli law from military draft and service. This requirement would result in ethnicity-based discrimination in the establishment of the election day observer team.


The nature of the new elections observer team, as detailed by CEC Chairman Melcer, is of a supervisory rather than security capacity and does not require any military service and/or experience obtained as a result of military service.


Such discrimination is a violation of Section 2 of Israel's Equal Employment Opportunities Law, 1988, which prohibits employers from discriminating amongst applications based upon ethnicity or nationality. It also violates Section 2 (c) of the same law that does permit an employer to require a military background if the nature of the job necessitates this – however, as noted above, nothing relating to the duties of the election observers team requires a military background.


In its letter, Adalah demands that:


  • Team 3 withdraw its ad calling for applicants with a military background and to act equitably when it comes to hiring employees for election day duties.
  • The CEC instruct Team 3 to withdraw the ad and to establish criteria that will allow for equality in applications and hiring for the new election supervisor team or for any other position.

Adalah Deputy General Director Attorney Sawsan Zaher, who authored the letter, adds:


"Aside from the flagrant violation of Israel's Equal Employment Opportunities Law, the prevention of Arab citizens from participating in election oversight sends a serious message that they cannot be trusted. This is particularly unfortunate because this observer unit was established after the CEC ruled that the Likud party's camera operation was illegal because it promoted this exact same racist message. We call on the CEC to order Team 3 to withdraw its ads and to ensure that any company it secures to provide election observers must practice fair and equal hiring practices that don't discriminate against Arab citizens".


CLICK HERE to read Adalah's letter [Hebrew]


(Thumbnail photo: Team 3/Facebook)