Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

28 Nissan 5763 - April 30, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Sharon: We Decided in Advance on Cuts that would Hit the Chareidi Community
by E. Rauchberger and Betzalel Kahn

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon drew irate reactions after saying in an interview he preferred an anti-religious coalition led by Shinui--fully recognizing the economic plan would harm chareidim more than other sectors--over a coalition including chareidi parties.

Sharon's remarks were apparently aimed to increase the pressure on chareidi parties to join the coalition together with Shinui now, in exchange for a reversal on budget cuts directed at the Torah world and the chareidi public.

"Ariel Sharon's comment would not have passed quietly in any democratic country," said MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni (UTJ). "What happened was that the head of the political establishment is announcing he intends to harm a specific sector of the public without any objective justification. Besides the severe effect the economic decrees will have on the public, and particularly the middle and lower classes, the chareidi sector will suffer an additional blow that will be difficult and painful, and we must do everything we can to prevent Ariel Sharon from carrying out his plot."

MK Rabbi Yisroel Eichler told Yated Ne'eman that it now appears the cuts against the chareidim were not based on economic reasons but simply hatred. As an example he cited the cancellation of the maternity grant (ma'anak leidah) of NIS 1,600 ($350) per family, which brings negligible savings for the general budget but represents a considerable blow for birthing families. He described the proposal as "evil for evil's sake." He also cited the proposal to slash the yeshiva budget, saying the decreases of up to 90 percent were completely disproportionate.

Commenting on a proposal to cut funding for yeshiva students from abroad, Rabbi Eichler said, "This is an evil and cruel cut considering the fact that the State spends large amounts to encourage university students to come to Israel and grants (immigrant) absorption packages (sal klita) to goyim who come to assimilate here, and meanwhile blocks funding for bochurei yeshivos who come to Israel to learn here and to live here. The Finance Ministry is plotting to take steps against avreichim in order to force them to leave their learning and go out to work, with the goal of decreasing the number of lomdei Torah in Israel."

He also said that clearly the aim of the cuts is ideological and not economic. In effect an "economic civil war" is being waged against the chareidim regardless of economic necessity and "therefore we must pray `leha'avir memsheles zodon min ho'oretz.'"

On the other hand a top ranking figure at the Prime Minister's Office accused Finance Ministry officials last week of misleading government ministers by presenting them with a censored version of the economic plan at a government meeting several weeks ago that did not fully inform them of the extent of cuts to be imposed upon the chareidi sector and the Torah world.

He told Yated Ne'eman only now that the most severe figures on the deep yeshiva budget cuts have been presented to the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister has it become apparent that Finance officials intentionally veiled the extent of the cuts from government ministers, creating the impression that only a few minor cuts were being made to the yeshiva budget. "There is a group of officials who are trying to seize control over the entire system and to set the government's course of action for the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister. In effect they have managed to take over the system through illegitimate means and present the ministers with inaccurate presentations in order to garner the ministers' support for the plan," says the figure from the Prime Minister's Office.

He added that Prime Minister's Office Director-General Avigdor Yitzchaki has come to realize clearly how problematic it is to cut the yeshiva budgets and has been making concerted efforts to alter several of the paragraphs that strike hardest against the Torah world. He also said the Prime Minister is slated to hold a meeting on the subject.

In recent weeks rabbonim and public officials have met with the Prime Minister's staff members and with Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to present them a full picture of the deep gashes the proposed economic decrees would inflict upon the chareidi sector.


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