Israel's Government deliberately denies economic opportunity to Haredi youth
Knesset expedites reversal of core curricular studies law
The Knesset reverses a law that would have reduced funding for ultra-Orthodox schools that teach only minimal core subjects, such as math, English, and science.
MK Rabbi Gafni et al. pressed their proverbial knives against the Government Coalition's throat, demanding that outstanding pieces of legislation demanded by the Haredi parties be expedited, or they would bring the Government down.
With the Knesset session coming to an end in early August, MK Rabbi Gafni et al. pressed their proverbial knives against the Government Coalition's throat, demanding that outstanding pieces of legislation demanded by the Haredi parties be expedited, or they would bring the Government down. Their initiatives either aim at delegitimizing Reform and Conservative Judaism, or at safeguarding the ultra-Orthodox community's extraordinary privileges, such as being exempted from the State's core curricular studies requirements.
Under threats from the Haredi parties, the Knesset moved early Tuesday to reverse a law that would have reduced funding for ultra-Orthodox schools that do not teach core subjects, such as math, English, and science. Under threats from the Haredi parties, the Government Coalition expedited the legislative process, suspending regular timetables required under the Knesset rules, and it is expected that the legislation will be finalized before the week is over, before the Knesset goes on summer recess. Hiddush was outspoken in challenging this and other legislative blitzkriegs, naturally mostly in the Hebrew media on radio, television and written media, once again highlighting our visible and credible voice among activists in Israel's religion and state arena.
The bill passed its first of three readings this week, and the Government short circuited the normal legislative procedures in order for the law to pass before members of Knesset take off for a three month recess. The standard three-week period required for public reactions to the new proposal was shortened to a mere ten days, the Ministerial Legislative Committee was authorized to finalize the bill without bringing it back for discussion in the Government, Knesset committee deliberations were pushed forward to immediately prepare the bill for a Knesset vote, and special approval was granted to hold the required second Knesset reading on the same day the bill was submitted.
The ramifications for Israeli education, society, and the future of the Israel's economy are severe; and the overt apathy for public input and expert testimonies tells the true story.
The ramifications for Israeli education, society, and the future of the Israel's economy are severe; and the overt apathy for public input and expert testimonies tells the true story. The Government expedited this bill with the conscious awareness that its goals and ramifications stand in stark contrast to national interest, public opinion and the views of all credible experts. Just a few weeks ago, Education Minister Bennett of the Zionist Orthodox Jewish Home party publicly reacted to the proposal, tweeting: "It's ain't going to happen." This week he himself presented the bill for its first Knesset reading. When political extortion is at play in Israeli Government Coalition politics, no rational consideration, not even the State's interest, is allowed to stand in the way. Cynically, the argument offered by both Bennett and the Haredi proponents of the law is that coercion should not be used in such matters. One wonders, though, how the same politicians insist on coercion when it comes to the religious and civil liberties of everyone else, such as on the rights to family, marriage and divorce!
The ultra-Orthodox community’s leaders condescendingly claim that yeshiva studies sharpen and perfect their youths’ minds regarding the things that really matter, to the point that there is no need to teach the so-called core subjects (primarily math, science and English) in the Haredi school systems. If there is a point, later on in their lives, at which they will find use for those other areas of knowledge – they will easily be able to catch up, within a few months, on what others have been studying throughout their years of secular education. The problem is that the statistics prove the opposite!
Research conducted for the Council for Higher Education showed that only 49% of male Haredim who start a college degree finish it. The president of the Jerusalem College of Technology, which specializes in training Haredim, also reports a 50% male dropout rate. This is on top of the 50% that drop out at the preliminary, preparatory stage, which comes up to an approximately 75% dropout rate among male Haredim who attempt to enter higher education. The main reason cited for this reality is the absence of core curricular studies during the formative years of their education [proven, for instance, by the fact that there is a far lower dropout rate among female Haredi students, who study core curricular studies in their schools, as opposed to male students]. This is particularly worrying because these are people who have been self-selected. [CLICK for full Haaretz article]
All leading economists explain that the implementation of core curricular studies in schools is a prerequisite to meaningful Haredi participation in the workforce.
All leading economists explain that the implementation of core curricular studies in schools is a prerequisite to meaningful Haredi participation in the workforce, which would empower them to contribute to the national economy. Further, deliberately denying the next generation of Haredi citizens the ability to earn respectable incomes, provide for their families, and survive without State funded charity is nothing short of criminal. [CLICK for full Hiddush article]
Even beyond these terrible consequences, such a loss of revenues to both the national economy and to the weaker classes of Israeli society inevitably translate into greater pressure on Diaspora Jewish philanthropic sources to compensate for the holes created in Israel's economy and growing welfare needs. The damage caused by the Haredi parties' political machinations reverberates throughout the international Jewish community, which is called upon to pay the price.