Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

11 Adar 5764 - March 4, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Betzedek Files High Court Petitions Against New Government Funding Regulations
by G. Kleiman

Betzedek has filed a High Court petition challenging the legality of the strict new regulations for pubic institutions submitting requests for state funding, as well as another petition against monetary sanctions imposed against institutions where administrative defects were found, asking for their cancellation and an interim order to block their immediate implementation.

Betzedek is an American-Israeli human rights and social justice organization founded with the aid of Agudas Yisroel of America at the initiative of Rabbi Shmuel Bloom, executive vice president of Agudas Yisroel of America, to handle legal, public and social issues affecting the chareidi public.

The petition submitted by the organization's director, Attorney Mordechai Green, claims that the new regulations for funding requests substantially harm the fundamental right to equality since they apply only to certain types of institutions that receive state funding.

The petition further states the new regulations' monetary sanctions discriminate against the institution and the students' right to equity since they are imposed arbitrarily and superficially and illogically against institutions where administrative defects are discovered. Since they lack legal backing and are extremely unreasonable they should be annulled, the petition argues.

As an example of the sanctions imposed the petition cites an institution where over 15 percent of students were absent during an inspection, a reasonable absentee rate during the flu season and not necessarily an indication of "fraud by the institution or submission of a deceptive report," as the Finance Ministry officials claim. The monetary sanctions imposed are extreme since they deprive the institution of support funding for 6-7 months until the next inspection.

Another example: A student found absent in two consecutive inspections loses the support funding he received throughout the year without the opportunity to explain the reasons for his absences. A learning institution that unintentionally failed to report the withdrawal of a student in the middle of the year is accused by the Finance officials of "duplicity with intention to obtain funding through fraud."

The petition notes that the appeal committee at the department of the Accountant-General is only authorized to investigate the accuracy of the findings in the inspection reports, but is not authorized to hear explanations for the student's absence. Furthermore, it notes, the appeal committee does not have a single chareidi member.

The petition claims the sanctions are so harsh that in some cases the loss of funding for a year or two can lead to an institution's closure. In the case of kollelim, an avreich can be deprived of the only source of income for his family. The petition claims the instructions given to Finance officials have effectively become a means of criminal punishment, though the law does not authorize a minister to levy fines or sanctions against institutions where administrative irregularities alone have been found.


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