In a Minority Position | Citizen’s Emporwement Center in Israel

In a Minority Position

In a Minority Position

Exposure: In 2017, the number of Arab employees in the majority of government ministries was close to zero, or only a few percent  In three ministries, the number of minority members employed was over 10%, but they held mostly junior positions

By Telem Yahav


Israeli Arabs constitute more than 20% of the population, however, their numbers in government ministries is many times lower – according to data from the Civil Service Commission, which is being revealed here for the first time. The data shows that there are some government ministries without even one Arab employee.


According to the data that reached The Citizen’s Empowerment Center in Israel (CECI) for 2017, in the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, the Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage, the Ministry of Intelligence and the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, there is not even one Arab, Druze or Bedouin employee. The Israel National Cyber Directorate, which has more than 130 employees, also has not even one member of a minority, and ironically, the same is true for the Ministry of Religious Services.


Even in most of the government ministries that do employ minorities, their numbers are extremely low and constitute only a few percent (see figure). For example, in the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, there are only five Arab employees out of 483 employees (1%). The Prime Minister's Office has ten Arab employees out of 822 employees (1.2%), the National Security Council has one Arab employee out of 71 employees (1.4%), the Ministry of Public Security has six Arab employees out of 379 employees (1.6%), and the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee, amazingly, has one Arab employee out of 56 employees (1.8%).

In 2017, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, one of the most significant and strategic ministries in Israel, had 41 Arab employees out of 1,834 employees (2.2%). In the Ministry of Finance, the number was 27 out of 1028 employees (2.6%); in the Administration of Courts, there were 137 out of 3,798 employees (3.6%); the Ministry of Economy had 21 out of 537 employees (3.9%); and the Civil Service Commission had 14 out of 284 employees (4.9%). 

In the Ministry of Environmental Protection, 33 out of 606 employees (5.4%) are Arabs; in the Ministry of Tourism, there are 10 minority members out of 179 employees (5.6%); in the Central Bureau of Statistics, there are 60 minority members out of 1059 employees (5.7%); and in the Ministry of Communications, there are 10 minority members out of 145 employees (6.9%).

In the Ministry for Social Equality, contrary to its name, there are only 8 Arab employees out of a total of 96 (8.3%); the Ministry of Education has 177 out of 2010 (8.8%); and the Ministry of Justice has 299 out of 3,314 are employed (9%).

According to the goal set by the Israeli government, all government ministries must employ 10% who are members of minorities. Technically, the government has reached its goal, since the percentage of people employed by government ministries who are minority members is 11%. But actually, only 3 government ministries meet the employment ratio of over 10%, thereby raising the overall ratio.

In the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services, there are 3,964 employees, and 462 of them (11.7%) are Arabs. In the Ministry of Health, out of 3,809 employees, 611 (16%) are Arabs. However, at the Ministry of Interior, no fewer than 410 (61%) out of 669 Ministry employees are minority members. In the various hospitals and medical centers, too, the ratio of Arab employees was particularly high.

Nevertheless, even in the ministries where there is a large representation of Arab employees, they are usually employed in low-level positions, such as in unskilled hospital jobs and as inspectors that have to work on the Sabbath in the Ministry of Interior.

“The National Civil Service Law states that the Arab population should be appropriately represented in all ranks, professions and ministries,” said Einat Fischer Lalo, General Manager of The Citizens’ Empowerment Center in Israel (CECI), yesterday, in response to the data. “The government cannot make do with meeting the goal as a technical average, and it must take all steps necessary to ensure appropriate representation in all the major government ministries, and certainly also at the managerial level and in key positions.”