This is in todays Wall Street Journal.

Israel Takes the E Out of DEI

T he ideology of “diversity, equity and inclusion” is a direct threat to Israel’s existence. That’s what I learned from Jewish and Arab Israelis during my five days in the country in February. They didn’t only say that DEI goes hand in hand with antisemitism, which it does. They also said it sacrifices the merit that has helped Israel survive in a sea of hostility.

I traveled to Israel on a solidarity trip organized by the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine. Several professors wanted to support Israel while registering their displeasure with higher education’s largely antisemitic response to Hamas’s Oct. 7 terrorist attack. I joined at their invitation, hoping to learn how Israel approaches the DEI ideology that has swept the Western world.

I quickly noticed that Israelis talk about DEI differently, most notably by excluding or redefining the E. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is committed to “diversity and inclusion.” Ditto the Israel Institute of Technology, or Technion. Tel Aviv University keeps the E, but instead of equity, it emphasizes “equality and diversity.”

The president of Technion disavowed DEI, telling me that it is an unacceptable answer to the question he asks himself every morning: “Is our work in the interest of Israeli society and Israeli security?”

Instead of lowering standards in pursuit of equity, Technion is reaching out to Arab communities to find more qualified students. Its efforts have increased the number of Arab undergraduate students by about 80%, from 500 in 2020 to more than 900 in 2023, while the dropout rate has decreased.

At the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, I asked an Arab woman who works as a diversity and equity official how her institution understands the topic. She said her school demands equal opportunity, not equal outcomes. The latter, she said, would pit people against each other, deepening divides that Israel has worked hard to close.

Michael Halberthal, director general at Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa, made a similar point. He told us that “people get promotion into their position according to their abilities, not about their religion, not about their gender, not about anything else. And it works.” Mr. Halberthal said that it is the only hospital in the Middle East where an Arab woman heads the nephrology, or kidney disease, unit. After Oct. 7, the hospital’s Arab employees showed up en masse to treat the expected influx of patients. The hospital’s focus on diversity and inclusion rather than equity appears to have united its workforce.

The most telling comment came from a lieutenant colonel who briefed us at Nevatim Airbase, a focal point of the country’s military response to Hamas. I asked if the Israeli Air Force has any initiatives to increase diversity in its ranks. The officer chuckled, then said that while there are efforts to recruit a broad swath of Israeli citizens, assignments and promotions are based on ability. A person has to earn the pilot’s seat in an F-35, because when Israel is at war, Israel must win. It can’t afford to embrace such a divisive and destructive ideology. Neither can the U.S., the leader of the free world.

Mr. Kingsbury is director of research at Do No Harm. By Ian Kingsbury


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