Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

21 Iyar 5764 - May 12, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











UTJ Protests Delay in Transfer of NIS 32 Million to Yeshivas'
By Eliezer Rauchberger

United Torah Jewry strongly objected early this week to the Knesset Finance Minister's withdrawal of a request for the transfer of NIS 32 million ($7 million) in funding for the yeshivas.

"The deliberations surrounding this transfer have already gone on for five months since the Attorney General demanded the issue be evaluated," read a special statement issued by UTJ, "and despite his approval, once again the deliberations have been postponed because the Finance Minister withdrew the request from the Knesset committee."

UTJ also protested the withholding of NIS 28 million ($6 million) in funding for dormitory facilities out of the total of NIS 67 million ($15 million) earmarked by the Welfare Ministry.

The party objected to the fact that "Minister Orlev has again directed his ministry's officials not to appear at meetings of the Knesset Committee for Public Inquiry to discuss the topic. The United Torah Jewry party sees this as causing serious harm to the yeshivas and the Torah world, and as part of the continued policy of the current government against Torah institutions and the religious sector's institutions in Israel."

The Knesset Finance Committee was again blasted by the chareidi representatives after tempers flared again on Monday because the transfer of NIS 32 million for the yeshiva budget did not receive approval.

MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni lodged harsh criticism against Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu saying he "is capitulating to Shinui and has turned into a Shinui branch office." MK Rabbi Yaakov Litzman announced he would "blast every [Finance] Committee meeting until the money for the yeshivas is approved."

According to press reports, the Finance Ministry was prepared to approve the transfer to chareidi institutions until the leader of the Shinui party intervened.

Last week Finance Committee Chairman MK Avraham Hirshzon (Likud) closed the committee meeting after the request was withdrawn and the chareidi Knesset members denounced the committee for delaying approval of the transfer for several months.

During this meeting it was revealed that the Finance Ministry has also withdrawn the request, and thus there was no longer any transfer request awaiting committee approval.

As the committee was about to discuss the budget transfers on Monday, MK Rabbi Yaakov Litzman said he would not allow any budget transfer to be approved without first approving the transfer of the NIS 32 million to the yeshivas. "I'm willing to go to jail. Let the Knesset Guard come here and remove me. I don't care. I will not allow any budget transfer to be approved until they approve the transfer of the NIS 32 million for the yeshivas. For five months this sum has been delayed in the committee. At first they told us it was a problem that required the opinion of the Attorney General, but last week the Attorney General's office announced the budget transfer could be approved, and then the cat was let out of the bag. Suddenly the Finance [Ministry] withdrew [the request] for the budget transfer. This is not a matter of getting an opinion or of the committee.

"From now on I will disturb every meeting of the committee," he continued. "I don't care, even if you bring in the police or the Knesset Guard. What affects the yeshivas for basic necessities must pass in the committee. And if not, no other request will pass here."

MK Roni Brizon (Shinui), who is responsible for the delay, called out, "The yeshivas got NIS 500 million. That's more than enough."

His remark drew shouts from the chareidi Knesset members and Rabbi Litzman called out, "This is political terrorism by Shinui. From now on I will not allow the meeting to be conducted."

Afterwards MK Rabbi Gafni said the transfer request is a request for a professional transfer by the Finance Ministry. "It was already agreed upon in August 2003, but in December Finance Minister Netanyahu asked UTJ to wait for approval of the funding transfer until the beginning of January 2004 because the State budget for 2004 had to be transferred and Shinui would not give its support if the transfer to the yeshivas was approved. It now appears to us this was one big lie. It was all an act. Brizon's letter, the Attorney General's opinion -- everything is to prevent the transfer of any money to the yeshivas.

"Yesterday it became apparent Tommy Lapid yelled at Bibi [telling him] not to transfer the money to the yeshivas, and Bibi is acting two-faced. To the chareidim he pretends to be giving them everything while at the same time he is capitulating to Shinui. He does not recognize the suffering of talmidei chachomim. He has turned into a branch of Shinui."

Later, when the committee tried to approve an NIS 15-million budget for small businesses Rabbi Gafni said, "Shinui is leading the Likud to the netherworld."

In a related matter, in the Knesset MK Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz lodged criticism against the State Comptroller's conduct toward the chareidi public saying, "The Comptroller hardly counts this sector. And if he does mention it generally it is only in a negative context."

Later Ravitz said, "The Comptroller does not respond to the chareidi public's claims against State institutions. For what does the Comptroller say when we state claims, for example, on funding discrimination for transportation or a cut in classroom hours. He feels no obligation to reply. To him we are in the State illegally. We are supported. Be grateful for all you are given."

According to Rabbi Gafni, "The Comptroller says the chareidi education system received 2,500 classroom hours more than it was budgeted. But he does not ask whether what was in the budget was enough to meet the needs. Furthermore, he puts the pension budget for the chareidi education system into classroom hours, not as it is in the general education system which has a budget for classroom hours and a budget for pensions."

In conclusion he called for a change in the fundamental perspective on matters and the understanding that a chareidi Jew is entitled to basic minimal subsistence in a dignified manner within Israeli society.


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