Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

15 Kiselv 5767 - December 6, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











De Hartoch Trying to Block Funding of Maintenance at Chareidi Schools
Attorney General Does not Check out Complaints against de Hartoch

By Betzalel Kahn and Eliezer Rauchberger

Following attempts to amend the law to allow local authorities to cover routine maintenance costs at chareidi educational institutions run by the municipality, MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni attacked Atty. Amnon de Hartoch, head of the Justice Ministry's Support Department, for trying to sabotage the government and the Knesset's efforts to amend the law. Rabbi Gafni claims that de Hartoch's advice to the government and the Knesset on how to write the law was calculated to set up the law to be struck down by the High Court and to invite the incitement of various segments of the population against the chareidi sector.

In a letter sent on Monday to Deputy Finance Minister Rabbi Meshulam Nahari, Rabbi Gafni says the amendment proposal should be advanced immediately in order to make available to chareidi schools the same local authority funding provided to government schools, similar to the parallel funding from the state budget. He also repeated Rabbi Nahari's remarks, made at a meeting of parents' committees on Motzei Shabbos in Jerusalem, according to which Atty. de Hartoch is demanding that the law apply to all recognized educational institutions — secular and fully private as well as religious and semi- public — in accordance with his interpretation of the Human Dignity and Liberty Foundation Law. De Hartoch also claims that although the Budget Foundations Law makes chareidi schools eligible for the same funding that government schools receive, the law cannot be extended to the local authorities after the Foundation Law has already been legislated.

"It is not the job of Atty. de Hartoch, who is just in charge of support funding at the Attorney General's Office, to be involved in the area of legal advice and legislation," says MK Rabbi Gafni, adding, "The government does not have to accept all of the advice it receives in the area of legislation and the Knesset is authorized to legislate or refrain from doing so as it sees fit."

Rabbi Gafni argues that Chinuch Atzmai and Maayan Hachinuch HaTorani function as official government organizations in every respect, except for their pedagogical independence and their independence in hiring. Unlike the private schools, their general accountant is from the Finance Ministry, no funding is released without his approval and in accordance with his criteria, and also proper administration certificates are not issued and schools and classes are not opened without Education Ministry approval. This shows that the government is very involved in these institutions in ways that are not found among the regular private schools.

"Atty. de Hartoch knows that the government will not approve extending the law to apply to all recognized educational institutions, as this includes many Arab schools and elite private Jewish schools," says Rabbi Gafni, implying that de Hartoch is insisting that the law apply to all recognized institutions based on the Human Dignity and Liberty Foundation Law as part of a bid to prevent its passage.

Rabbi Gafni says that this foundation law does not relate to equality, noting that ten years after the law was legislated the Knesset passed a law requiring the local authorities to pay out-of-town tuition fees for primary school students who attend the state public schools as well as at Chinuch Atzmai and Maayan Hachinuch HaTorani schools, placing the chareidi chains within the category of recognized education without any challenges to the law. The law does not require payment of these tuition fees if the student attends a regular private school.

Furthermore Rabbi Gafni claims that the legal opinions of Atty. de Hartoch and Atty. Chavilio are based on a decision by the Tel Aviv Court for Administrative Matters against an NGO in Petach Tikva "from which they derive their erroneous conclusion as applying to all educational institutions and their funding by the local authorities," while ignoring another decision by the same court, in a petition filed by Rabbi Gafni, that required the Kadima Local Council to allocate funding for security at the Chinuch Atzmai school in its jurisdiction — indicating that the court did not consider such funding as beyond the law.

As such, in his letter to Rabbi Nahari, Rabbi Gafni writes, "The government must present the law that was supposed to be approved five months ago in accordance with your coalition agreement or else support the private amendment I submitted not long ago and which is legally supported by the Knesset Legal Bureau."

During a meeting of the Knesset Constitution Committee, Attorney General Mani Mazuz admitted that he does not investigate all of the complaints he receives against de Hartoch. Mazuz was responding to Rabbi Gafni's claim there is "deliberate and systematic scheming" on the part of de Hartoch in all matters related to support criteria that affect the chareidi sector. Rabbi Gafni and others have submitted numerous complaints against the behavior of de Hartoch, but there is no response from the authorities.

Mazuz denied the chareidi public is the victim of systematic scheming and said as head of a system of over 1,000 jurists it would be impossible for him to handle every matter referred to him.


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