Justice Ministry officials expressed outrage on Wednesday over a recruitment ad that stated that Israelis of Ethiopian descent were not wanted.
The ad, published by the LM manpower company, called for warehouse workers to fold clothes at a Caesarea-based fashion company, Walla reported. The ad noted that the job was 7 a.m.-5 p.m. and paid minimum wage (NIS 25 an hour, or $6.50), and specified that the employer “does not want Ethiopians.”
Justice Ministry Director Emi Palmor said that, if true, the ad was “a blatant case of discrimination and racism.” Palmor, who also heads a ministerial committee seeking to uproot racism against Ethiopian Israelis, noted that testimony submitted to the committee indicated “this is not the first case, and certainly not the only case.”
Palmor said the case would be investigated by the commissioner for equal employment opportunities in the Economy Ministry.
The fashion company, Expose, said in response that it had nothing to do with the offensive caveat, and that the ad was published without its knowledge. “This wasn’t published by us and certainly isn’t acceptable according to our values,” a spokeswoman said. “This doesn’t reflect our opinions at all.”
The manpower company said the ad was a result of “human error” and that it was removed “the moment we found out.” Notably, the company did not deny the actual request by the client.
“This was not for publication. It was somehow leaked out. It was supposed to stay inside the company and be dealt with inside the company,” a statement by LM said. “This is not something we promote. Apparently it was a human error. We don’t support racist statements. We believe in recruitment for all ethnic groups and communities.”
The ad was blasted by Israeli officials.
Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel called it “appalling” and said she would bring the matter before the cabinet on Thursday.
“Racism and discrimination cut through sectors and groups in Israeli society. We must put an end to it once and for all,” she said.
MK Omer Barlev of the Zionist Union said it was “unacceptable for people of the Ethiopian community to be a punching bag for lowly racists. Not in the State of Israel and not on our watch.” He vowed to promote legislation to prevent such incidents from recurring.
MK Karin Elharar (Yesh Atid) said it was “shameful… we mustn’t allow this to be a part of society,” while Michal Biran (Zionist Union) said it was shocking to find such displays of racism in present-day Israel.
In July Palmor submitted a major report to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on ways to combat racism against Israelis of Ethiopian heritage.
The report was produced by the committee chaired by Palmor, which was established in response to recent public street protests by Ethiopian Israeli activists against what they said was the rampant prejudice they face in Israeli society.
The issue rose to the fore last year amid accusations by Ethiopian Israelis of rampant police brutality and abuse against members of the community. The community staged a series of demonstrations across the country, triggered by video footage showing a seemingly unprovoked police assault on an Ethiopian-Israeli soldier in April 2015.
Thousands took to the streets demanding the government address the alleged systematic and institutionalized racism faced by the Ethiopian Israeli community. Activists also expressed their frustration with what they said was the state’s shortcomings in addressing the social and economic needs of their community.
The latest report marks the conclusion of months of deliberations that resulted from last year’s tensions. It offers 53 detailed recommendations for tackling racism throughout Israeli society, mainly through the education system.
Upon receiving the report Netanyahu promised to take “further steps” in the wake of the report. Racism, he said, “is unbecoming of our country, our citizens and our nation.”