The Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs discussed on Wednesday ways to remove obstacles in the absorption of immigrants from France, mainly by recognizing the licenses of accountants, attorneys, nurses, investment consultants, architects, engineers, veterinarians and electricians who made Aliyah.

According to Committee Chairman MK Avraham Neguise (Likud), many French immigrants are finding it difficult to integrate into the job market due to various bureaucratic barriers. ”As a country that absorbs immigrants, we must remove these obstructions and prevent the immigrants` return to their countries of origin. Israeli bureaucracy is chasing away immigrant academics, and the government ministries are ignoring the government`s decision to remove the obstacles.”

Health Ministry official Ruth Rothstein argued that the State of Israel is not prepared to absorb professionals from around the world, but said the ministry was examining the possibility of certifying immigrant academics prior to their arrival in Israel.

Absorption Committee Chairman MK Neguise: ”Israeli bureaucracy chasing away immigrant academics”

(Ben-Gurion Airport, archive photo)

MK Sofa Landver of Yisrael Beitenu maintained that the government has not done enough for the immigrants over the past year, while MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beitenu) turned to Rothstein and said: ”For the Health Ministry, there is no difference between a university in Jordan and the Sorbonne in Paris. This is a very severe matter. The Health Ministry is ignoring the government`s decision.”

MK Nurit Koren (Likud) said, ”Unfortunately, a year has passed and we haven`t seen any progress. The immigrants` suffering continues, and it must be stopped. If we do not solve the problem, we will cause them to leave the country.”

Florence Ben-Shivhon, an immigrant from France who worked there for 12 years as a nurse anesthetist, told the committee members ”We represent the State of Israel`s total failure in absorption. The studies in France are longer than in Israel, but despite this, many difficulties prevent us from completing the professional test successfully, and then we are forced to take a private course which costs about NIS 14,000. The Health Ministry offers the course in French, but only for a minimum of 10 people. We have to wait some two years to take the exam, and in the meantime we are forced to work as waiters. We are Zionists and want to live in Israel, but in Canada we are not faced with such difficulties.”

Absorption Committee Chairman MK Neguise: ”Israeli bureaucracy chasing away immigrant academics”

(Archive photo: Moshe Milner, GPO)

Michael Bensaadon, director of the ”Klita” umbrella organization for NGOs working to help French Jews immigrate to Israel, said ”Jews are called to make Aliyah, and for the first time in many years there is mass immigration – and the government has no organized plan.”

Meir Lopatinsky of the Jewish Agency charged that the Health Ministry`s Nursing Department was ”preventing nurses from finding employment in Israel, and despite the decision to allow nurses to take the [licensing] exam abroad, in practice, this is not happening.”

”When olim (new immigrants) are told to wait a year or two, they are actually being sentenced to [leave the country],” he added.