Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

30 Nissan 5764 - April 21, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Get the Cheats but Don't Tread on Us

By all legitimate means, the government -- any government -- should catch anyone who cheats it. We make no defense of those who lie or misrepresent the truth in any way in order to collect money to which they are not entitled. The government should catch whoever breaks the law and take appropriate punitive action. We say this clearly so that there will be no mistake.

However, in Israel there is a big myth that is, for various reasons, widely held: that there is widespread fraud of government in the religious public, and that it is even more widely condoned. Government bureaucrats seem to spend all their limited imaginative energy on devising new ways to expose the legions of chareidi "cheaters" -- who exist only in their imaginations.

Time and again, after new procedures are introduced that will "certainly" expose all the chareidi tricks, the results are no different from those found in the past. The level of fraud in the chareidi public -- while it is still farther from zero than we would like -- is invariably no higher than the level anywhere else and generally lower.

This is a pattern that has repeated itself many times over the years, for example with regard to the number of actual students studying in chareidi schools, with regard to the Israeli students in yeshivas, with regard to army deferments, with regard to foreign students in yeshivas, with regard to the numbers of chareidim voting in elections, and with regard to just about any other contact the chareidim have with the government authorities.

During several elections, for example, the far Leftist parties made a special effort to send observers to every poll in chareidi neighborhoods. All parties have the right to send an observer to any poll, but generally parties send only to polls in areas that they have many voters to ensure that they get every vote that is coming to them. However the Left was "sure" that there was widespread chareidi fraud which the regular election security system was not detecting. It is far from needless to say that even their ideologically motivated observers detected nothing out of the ordinary.

No other sector of Jewish society is approached by the Israeli government with a presumption of guilt. The Western sensibility is likely to find it incredible, but it actually appears that some of the steps are not taken only with a reasonable -- if unnecessary -- goal of exposing fraud, but also, or in some cases mainly, seem to be intended to insult and embarrass chareidim without any apparent effect in exposing wrongdoing.

This seems to be what is behind the recent warning issued by the Ministry of Education that from now on all students at chareidi institutions must carry identifying documentation and if one of the surprise inspections turns up a talmid without any such document, he will be marked absent and the institution can expect to lose its funding for him. Such inspections are basically unique to chareidi institutions, and now they will be conducted under threats and conditions that are specially designed for -- or against - - chareidim.

The spirit of hatred of religion permeates the actions of the current government. This is an example of the spirit, but there is no lack of painful action. Actively advanced by Shinui, which is only trying to live up to its campaign promises, it is certainly not going to be opposed by the Likud which at best does not care about those matters. No other parties raise any objection to most of the anti- religious deeds, and none seems to have any spiritual resources that it can use to oppose the hatred of Shinui.

If we needed any reminders that we are still in golus, we have them.

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