The majority of Israelis believe that integrating the ultra-Orthodox public into the workforce is more important than having them join the Israel Defense Forces and that the government must allot special budgets for this purpose, a new survey reveals.
The survey was conducted by the Rafi Smith Institute ahead of a conference held this week by the Haredi Hi-Tech Forum and Jerusalem venture capital firm JVP, among 500 respondents – a representative sample of Israel's
adult Jewish population (with a maximum sampling error of 4.5%).
In the first part of the survey, respondents were asked to choose between two options for integrating haredim in the Israeli society. Fifty-three percent chose the labor market, while only 31% selected the army. The remaining 16% did not respond.
An analysis of the results reveals that among secular and traditional Jews there is a clear inclination toward the employment issue (56% and 53%, respectively). This was the common response among religious and haredi Jews as well (49% and 43%), but these sectors also had a very high percentage of respondents with no opinion on the matter.
An analysis according to political outlook revealed no differences between right-wing, centrist or left-wing respondents, who all prefer to see haredim integrate into the workforce over having them drafted.
The second question in the survey presented a statement: "Just like the state budget has money for education, health and welfare, the State should invest money in encouraging the integration of haredim into the labor market."
Sixty-three percent said they agreed with the ruling (25% - "very much agree" and 38% - "pretty much agree") and 37% were against it (24% - "don’t agree at all" and 13% - "don’t agree that much").
All political and religious camps are in complete agreement about this issue, and even among those who favor haredi draft over workforce integration, a majority (56%) is in favor of allotting budgets for the second goal.
The haredi high-tech conference focused on technological entrepreneurship in the sector by presenting success stories of haredi entrepreneurs, discussing obstacles and difficulties (and offering solutions), and suggesting governmental work plans and ways to raise capital.
JVP founder Erel Margalit said in response to the survey findings: "It's time for a work alliance with the haredim. Integrating them into advanced industries will allow Israel to take a financial leap forward and turn the country into one of the world's major programming centers.
"Our investment as Israelis in the training and employment of haredim will pay off big time for the Israeli economy. There is an important challenge at our doorstep and we must act on it."