Category Archives: Recent

Official Days of rest Around the World

By | In the News, Recent, Religion and State | No Comments

Written by Ariel Finkelstien and Tomer Yahud

 

This study examines the laws of commerce and employment on the official day of rest in most of the developed countries around the world :

1. Rest Days: In the overwhelming majority of developed countries, most of the citizens work Monday-Friday while Saturday and Sunday serve as rest days. In general however, countries do not set Saturday as an official day of rest, and only some countries declare Sunday as a rest day.

2. The Scope of Restrictions: While most Western European countries have various restrictions on commercial activity on the rest day, in the majority of countries in North America, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, East Asia and Oceania there are no such significant restrictions.

The most distinctive finding arising from the study is a global trend of decline in restrictions on commercial activity on rest days. This trend began in the 1970’s, intensified during the 1990’s, and reached its peak in recent years in Europe with the reduction of restrictions on commerce on the day of rest in Italy, Spain, France, Greece, Portugal, Finland, the Netherlands and Denmark although some of these countries still maintain significant restrictions. In practice, South Korea is the only country in which restrictions were increased in recent years. Nonetheless, even today there are still a considerable number of countries – such as Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany and Norway – in which almost no commercial activity is permitted on the rest day.

3. Types of Restrictions: There are a number of different types of restrictions on trade activity on rest days: Total restriction on commerce with vut s few exceptions; the designation of a number of Sundays on which commercial activity is permitted; the granting of decision-making powers to local government; the restriction of the activity of businesses of a certain size (measured by area); the imposition of restrictions or the granting of exceptions to certain sectors.

4. The Public Discussion: The central groups supporting restrictions on commercial activity on rest days are generally trade unions and small business owners interested in instituting Sunday as an official rest day. In addition, religious groups such as the Catholic and other Churches have an interest in devoting Sunday to church attendance and other religious activity. On the other hand, the support for removing restrictions on commercial activity on the rest day is usually provided by consumer groups interested in utilizing it for shopping and other consumer activity. In addition, they argue that denying them this possibility constitutes an infringement of their individual liberty. Other supporters of lifting restrictions claim that doing so will serve to strengthen the economy.

5. Labor Laws: Many countries have legislated laws that determine that an employee may be employed on the official rest day only with his/her freely given consent, and that refusal to so work cannot be grounds for non-employment or for termination of employment. In most countries, the employer is obligated to allow a substitute day of rest and 53% of the countries examined in the study (23 out of 43) have instituted a salary increment of between 50%-100% to be added to the regular salary for working (voluntarily) on Sundays.

To the Full Report

Adalah vs. the State of Israel

By | In the News, nation state, Recent | No Comments

Written by Lilach Danzig. Edited by Adi Arbel

Since its inception in July 2005, the BDS movement has sought to promote boycotts, divestment and sanctions against the State of Israel with the objective of delegitimizing its existence as a Jewish state. A significant part of the BDS movement’s strategy is the transformation of Israel into an international pariah nation by means of its portrayal as an apartheid state deliberately and institutionally discriminating against its Arab citizens.
Perversely, one of the bodies contributing to this propaganda is actually an Israeli organization, ‘Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel’.  Adalah is persistent in claiming that the State of Israel promotes a discriminatory policy against its Arab citizens.
This report surveys in detail the list of laws published on the Adalah website as discriminatory, and examines the validity of the organization’s claims regarding the existence of discrimination against Israeli Arab citizens. The report’s findings reveal that Adalah elects to adopt a strategy of distorting reality with deliberately biased presentations in order to defame Israel as guilty of enforcing dozens of discriminatory
laws.
The findings of this report, presented in detail in the summary chapter, clearly demonstrate that for a variety of reasons, the claims promoted by Adalah are, in essence, fundamentally groundless:

1. The overwhelming majority of the laws featured in the list (53 out of 57) do not even relate to the citizens’ ethnic origins and those that do, are designed to prevent and avoid discrimination. For example, the Law and Administration Ordinance (1948) that defines the country’s official rest days, and the Law for Using the Hebrew Date, both explicitly exclude institutions and authorities that serve non-Jewish populations for whom the law provides for definitions and procedures appropriate for their specific needs.

2. In 21 cases, Adalah’s claims of discrimination stem from the organization’s extremist stance that rejects the nature of Israel as a nation state in general and as the nation state of of the Jewish people in particular. For example, the Yad BenZvi Law is defined as a discriminatory law because of the institution’s objective of promoting Zionist ideals.

3. 18 of the laws reflect customs in other Western democracies whose democratic character no one would disparage. For example, according to Adalah, the flag constitutes a discriminatory law. Needless to say, this unfounded reasoning would mean that any country, the flag of which bears a cross or crescent discriminates against its non-Christian or non-Muslim minorities. A more in-depth comparison
between the laws frequently found that Israeli legislation is actually characterized by a higher degree of tolerance for its national minorities.

4. In at least 13 cases, a large disparity exists between the explicit content of the laws and the biased (and sometimes warped) interpretation accorded to them by Adalah. In some instances the claimed discrimination is difficult to identify. For example, the Golan Heights Law is considered discriminatory due to its objective of “according a legal basis for the implementation of Israeli law on the territory of
the Golan Heights conquered by Israel”. It would seem that only Adalah is capable of explaining a law intended to grant equal rights to all residents of the Golan Heights as being discriminatory.

5. 8 laws are intended to protect the security of all Israeli citizens regardless of religion, race or gender. Included in these laws are a number of legislative amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law and the Prisons Ordinance aimed at assisting the security forces in preventing terror attacks. These laws adversely affect only those clearly suspected of engaging in terror activity without distinguishing between Jews and Arabs. In effect, this very claim is woefully discriminatory because it presumes that Arab citizens of Israel are generally hostile and prone to terror activities.

6. 7 of the laws do not even relate to Israel’s Arab citizens but rather to those noncitizen individuals towards whom the State is not obligated to act with equality.
The absurdity in Adalah’s approach can be demonstrated by the example of the Trading with the Enemy Act (a law evolving from British Mandatory law) being included in the list of discriminatory laws because “the countries declared as such (Iran, Syria and Lebanon) are Arab and/or Muslim states”. Presumably the law could be remedied by adding other, non-Muslim and non-Arab enemy states.

7. In the case of some of the laws mentioned in the list, the supposed discrimination in question actually affected the Jewish majority and not the Arab minority. For example, Clause 7a of the Basic Law: the Knesset, the objective of which is to prevent the candidacy of political parties acting against the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, has been implemented only against Jewish parties on grounds of anti-democratic objectives. Similarly, amendments to the Absorption of Discharged Soldiers Law are indicted by Adalah for discriminating in favor of Jewish citizens, but these citizens are the ones specifically obligated to serve three years of military service for sub-minimum compensation and living conditions, thus postponing their university education and professional advancement. It is the Arab citizen who enjoys the option of exemption from military service altogether or alternatively, of volunteering for national civil service which does not place them in harms way but which
nevertheless affords them the same benefits awarded to discharged soldiers.

8. In a number of cases, Adalah misuses objective crime statistics to claim discrimination. According to this logic, if members of the Arab sector of the population are the main criminal violators of a certain law, then that particular law perforce is deemed racist. This could apply to laws against theft of property,
against sex crimes or against driving through red lights. The constructive and proper solution, to disproportionate violations is not annulment of necessary laws, of course, but rather, educating and encouraging observance of the law among all sectors of the population-without distinction or favoritism.
Fundamentally, an in-depth examination of the so-called “discriminatory” laws listed by Adalah demonstrates that the laws promoting Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people do not discriminate against its Arab citizens or diminish their civil rights. Rather, they assist in promoting Israel as a more Jewish and a more democratic state striving for the welfare of all its citizens. Any reasonable and fair comparison of Israel’s laws with those of the overwhelming number of other democratic states constituting nation states of majority ethnic groups would conclude that Israel is a model for promoting the democratic rights of all of its citizens.

Absract and Summary

To the full report

Non-citizen Foreigners in Israel

By | Immigration, Recent | No Comments

Ariel Finkelstein

The phenomenon of non-citizen foreigners living inIsrael has gained widespread recognition because of the infiltrations on the Israeli southern border. Even so, it seems that the public discourse is deficient and is often influenced by manipulation and incomplete data. The purpose of this document is to summarize and organize the primary data and opinions on this topic and serve as a basis for a serious, productive discussion leading to policy. This document will not propose such policy; it will only present the facts and opinions of the various parties to the public discourse. Effort has been made to present the widest set of facts and a variety of opinions and their roots, with no attempt to reach a conclusion.

The document refers to three main groups of non-citizen foreigners in Israel:

1. Infiltrators: Foreigners who have illegally entered Israel on the Egyptian border and who were caught at the border or within the country.

2. Foreign workers: This group is sub-divided in two – foreign workers with valid work permits and foreign workers who entered Israel with valid work permits which have since expired.

3. Tourists without valid permits: Foreigners from underdeveloped countries who entered Israel as tourists and stayed without valid permits. It is thought that most of them work illegally.

The document shows that according to official statistics there are currently some 55,000 infiltrators in Israel and another 93,000 tourists without valid permits. There is debate about the number of foreign workers: the Population and Immigration Authority claims there are some 85,000 foreign workers in Israel while the Central Bureau of Statistics has the group at 110,000 strong.

The infiltrators have come almost entirely from African nations and the absolute majority is male: 85% of this group are adult males and the rest women and children. In contrast, the tourists without valid permits and the foreign workers are mainly citizens of Asiatic and Eastern European countries, evenly divided in terms of gender: some 52% are male and 48% female.

Beyond the statistics about non-citizen foreigners, this document presents the current arguments in Israeli discourse. The document presents the legal, moral, criminal, and medical basis of the public debate over the infiltrators and their absorption. Amongst the claims discussed: Is Israel obligated by the UN Charter to consider the infiltrators refugees? Is the crime rate amongst the infiltrators higher than normal? Do they represent a security threat? Do they represent a medical threat to the rest of the population? The document also presents the various claims about the economic impact of foreign workers and the question of whether their employment leads to unemployment for Israelis. Public discourse does not include any reference to tourists without valid permits, so the various claims about this group’s status are not presented here.

To The Survey of Data and Opinions (December 2014)

Another Saturday of Football? Suggestion for Regulating Football and Other Sports Games on Saturday

By | Recent, Religion and State | No Comments
A court ruling given by the Labor Court last August raised the issue of holding football games on Saturdays (Shabbat = the Jewish Sabbath], stating that holding league games on Shabbat is a violation of the law, as football teams were never given a permit to hire workers on Shabbat.
This ruling opened a wide public debate on the matter, and touched not only on the legality of employing religious players on this day, but actually holding public games while violating the Sabbath, and the ability of religious players to participate in these games, as players and as spectators.
One must note that football in Israel includes two separate issues: professional football (top leagues) and popular football (lower leagues and leagues for children and youth). Even though the Labor Court referred only to professional football, the public debate currently being held deals also with popular football and, therefore, must also address this issue with utmost seriousness. In fact, the public debate on popular football is relevant to all sports fields in Israel, and even to several fields in professional sports.
When dealing with professional football, the position paper examines top league games in the 2014-2015 season and points out that only 57 games – constituting 23.57% of the games during this season – were held at hours considered by Jewish Law to be Shabbat, while 29 games were held led than one hour after the end of Shabbat. Thus, in many weeks all that is needed is for the games to start a little bit later in order to prevent them being held on Shabbat.
Also, this position paper shows that most games that are held hours before the end of Shabbat are those in the final stages of the season (play-offs), and this is not necessarily connected to summer time, but to a deliberate decision to hold these games much earlier in the day than those held during other times of the season, sometimes even at noon. Therefore, it seems that some effort could be made to postpone some games to later in the day.
In addition, the position paper states that in most weeks, five games were held every Saturday (most of them, as stated, after Shabbat ended) and two games were held on Sundays or Mondays. Even so, in eight weeks (about one quarter of them) four games were held on Shabbat and three on Sundays and Mondays. As such, it seems that there is nothing preventing moving several more games to Sundays and Mondays, so that these will not be played on Shabbat. Also, games in summer can be played at 17:00 on Fridays, and this has been done in the not so long ago past. Even so, we must add that if one of the suggestions to add another day of rest to the Israeli market, such as Sundays or Fridays, is accepted, this will make it much easier to hold these games on those days, possibly even on Thursdays.
Regarding the issue of popular sports, the position paper raised several suggestions for increasing the number of days of rest in Israel, from an approach that we must try and ensure that all popular sports training, games and competitions are not held on Shabbat, to enable as many sectors of the population to participate in these events. We believe that the ideal solution to this issue is cancelling schools on Fridays. This is a solution that requires the least reforms, on the one hand, and significantly upgrades popular sports in Israel, on the other. This is in addition to other advantages that are not sports-related.
Even so, at the first stage, and with the understanding that such a reform will take time to implement, we recommend holding the youth sports competitions, which are held periodically, to Fridays and, if possible, even to weekdays or to condensed work vacations, such as Chanuka. In this regard, we recommend that the Ministry of Education – together with the Ministry of Culture and Sport – instruct schools to allow children participating in these events, to leave school accordingly (with their parents’ consent, of course).
In conclusion, it deems fit to note that, despite the supposed tension that such issues cause in the religious-secular rift, it seems that this issue is not so complicated, and with a bit of good will and effort on behalf of the relevant authorities, we can find solutions that will benefit the entire Israeli society.
To the full position paper (Hebrew)