The Jerusalem District Court has rejected an appeal made by the “Hebrew Labor” website after a lower court ruled that it was practicing discrimination, and ordered it to compensate Mossawa – The Advocacy Center For Arab Citizens In Israel – and the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) – affiliated with the Jewish Reform Movement – the sum of NIS 40,000 plus another NIS 10,000 for court expenses.
Attorney Orly Erez-Likhovski submitted the suit on behalf of the two organizations.
A petition was filed against the site’s operators in 2014 by Mossawa and IRAC, along with The Commission for Equal opportunities in Employment. At the conclusion of the proceedings in Magistrate Court, on October 15, 2017, the court fined the Hebrew Labor the sum of NIS 40,000 (more than $11,000), claiming that the site discriminates between people and thereby infringes the Prohibition of Discrimination in Products, Services and Entry to Entertainment and Public Places Law, 2000. The site published lists of businesses, employers and job seekers, and when the claim was filed, the contents of the site included content that encouraged “Jewish work” and the danger of employing “non-Jewish” workers. In addition, part of the site was devoted to “Hebrew work stories” where it was written, among other things, “great satisfaction to support and employ my brothers and not give money to those who are defined as my enemy”.
Uri Kirschenbaum of the Derech Chaim movement that claims to be “working to strengthen Jewish public identity in Israel” defended the founder and operator of the site, Erez Lieberman. The Hebrew Labor site and Derech Hayim began a mass mobilization campaign to finance payment of the fine imposed on the site. Following the ruling, the site’s management decided, “to open the gates of the site to the entire population, Jews and non-Jews alike.” At the same time, the movement published a notice to business owners in Hebrew Labor that “the management of the site is not responsible for the legality of your business.”
Director of Mossawa, Jafar Farah, said, “Our struggle against racism and discrimination will continue, and we are happy to find Jewish partners who work with us to fight racism.” In the past, the two organizations demanded that a similar site be taken down. The decision by the two courts is an important message to those organizations and professional bodies who continue to practice discrimination.
The position of the Commission for Equal opportunities in Employment, was presented to the Court by the Jerusalem Regional Commissioner for the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, Dr. Janet Shalom, who stated that “the publication of a national employers’ list that openly publishes businesses employing only Jews in order to persuade the public to refrain from hiring non-Jewish workers negates the principle of equality”.
District Court Judge Tamar Bar rejected the appeal filed by attorney Uri Zipori of the far-right Derech Haim movement and refused to reduce the fine. Zipori wrote that “despite the fact that four years have passed since the submission of the claim and despite the ruling of the lower court that the operation of the site contravenes the Prohibition of Discrimination Law, the appellant kept the site going.”
The head of the Commission for Equal opportunities in Employment, Att. Miriam Kabha, added: “This ruling clearly shows that there is no place for discrimination in the Israeli labor market. We as a society must denounce and condemn any sign of discrimination and differentiation in the employment market.” She avowed a commitment to “a diverse and egalitarian labor market that is in the interest of all of us, and therefore I congratulate all the practitioners and the Magistrate’s Court on this important ruling.”