The holiday season is over, and the Anglo support groups dedicated to helping immigrants find jobs are once again buzzing with activity. What is the Holy Grail (in the agnostic Indiana Jones sense, of course) that so many seek? A good paying job, working in English, during Israeli business hours. A few brave, optimistic souls give further qualifications: I want to work in administration; I want to work in accounting; I want to work in neotropical ichthyology. But most people express any preferences in the negative, as in “Please help me find a job before I have to sell myself into working for a forex company or a casino!”

When I tell acquaintances that I used to work for a forex company, they usually expect my story to be something along the lines of “Like most people sucked into the underbelly of forex, I was naive. I answered an ad which promised high finance, and eventually awoke in the gutter wiping pips off my face.”

Honestly though, when I began to work in forex, I didn’t know much about it. By the end of the initial training period, I barely knew more than that forex companies make their money by facilitating the trading of one currency for another, for example, when a client buys 1 Euro, and simultaneously sells 1.36 US dollars, hoping to get a good deal on the currency that was purchased. The company spent several additional months training and testing me before I was allowed near anything that required more skill than copying and pasting. Throughout my years working in the markets, I had to go through more training about privacy, fraud, and reporting requirements than when I had worked for either a municipal government or a health insurance agency.

The industry is no longer the sole province of seedy boiler rooms who want to get Grandma hooked on trading the GBP/USD until there’s nothing left for the heirs but some mangy cats. A regulated forex company wants its clients to make money, and spends a lot of time and money making educational resources available. And such a company is transparent in stating the Forex is a high risk investment, and that any funds that are needed to maintain a client’s lifestyle should not be used to trade.

When I went into my bank and was offered a credit card, they did not spend several minutes asking me about my financial history, or my plans regarding future purchases. The only evidence that they had when I was given access to several thousand shekels of immediate buying power was my banking history with their branch, which, to put it mildly, was something I would have expected to have had more of a restraining effect upon the decision makers than a positive one. In fact, my bank routinely takes money from me under such flagrantly unfair circumstances that it’s almost like they were my pimp. I’m still trying to work out how my bank can, in good conscience, charge me money to deposit funds that they use to make money. Still, no one says, “I haven’t been employed in a while. If things don’t get much better, I’m going to have to go work at the bank.”

That is not to say that Israel has not had issues with less than scrupulous forex companies. In forex, as in so many other things, Israel was an early adopter. Companies looking to merely cash in proliferated in the time period before widespread global regulation. But this could be said about many industries. Now, with several years of market experience, the Israeli forex industry offers plenty of regulated trading options for clients who are savvy enough to look for them, and if you are not aware on that level, than your hopes for trading successfully are dim indeed.

Gambling, which has such a bad name in traditional Judaism that a professional gambler is consigned to the hall with the women when it’s time to give testimony before a rabbinic court, is also getting a bad rap in terms of the employment market. While I personally don’t find much interest in feeding virtual coins into virtual slots, after having spent a few hours in the casinos that dotted Detroit and its surroundings, it’s undeniable that some people enjoy wagering. Frankly, the people who are into online gambling are a lot less troublesome to me than my friends who invite me to play Candy Crush, or Timewaster Garden, or any of those other games on Facebook. As long as you are working for a gambling company that openly states its odds and pays out accordingly, and where you pay attention to signs that a client is possibly going through an addiction, then you are doing nothing wrong.

We need to be a lot more supportive of the industries that allow English speaking Israelis to provide for their families, and that give additional options outside of working the second shift. Not only that, but working in forex, and I’m sure gambling as well, leads to some interesting life experiences. I know a lot more about the people in Southeast Asia than I ever would have expected, for one thing. And every so often, you can enlighten someone about the market, and feel like you’ve done your part to create the next Warren Buffet. So, let’s take some of the disdain reserved for the forex and gambling industries, and point it where it really belongs: at the politicians. And let’s pray that I never hit hard enough times where that becomes a possible career choice.