Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

29 Sivan 5765 - July 6, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Culture Organization Funding Withheld Due to Discriminatory Field Reporting

By Eliezer Rauchberger

The Knesset Finance Committee held another fiery meeting over the scandalous delays in transferring 2005 budget funds for Torah culture organizations. During the meeting Attorney Amnon De Hartoch, appointed by the Justice Ministry to formulate the criteria for granting support funding to organizations, unabashedly admitted that he is demanding the results of the Education Ministry's field checks of Torah organizations but not of other cultural organizations or of science and art organizations.

De Hartoch's remarks set off a storm of protest not seen in the committee in recent memory. "What, are you a policeman? Are you the State Comptroller? Why are you involved in the checks, anyway? This is a matter for the police and other enforcement officials," MK Nissim Dehan (Shas) roared at him. MK Meshulam Nehari (Shas) added to the shouts and heckling.

In a previous meeting De Hartoch reported having requested the reports of Education Ministry officials on the findings of the audits of the Torah culture organizations, and in the recent meeting he reiterated that he has no intention of approving the criteria that would allow the transfer of 2005 funding until he receives the reports. He also claimed that the criteria already formulated by the Education Ministry are inequitable, but he did not explain why he thought so.

Education Minister L. Livnat said she has no idea why the funding cannot be transferred to the Torah culture organizations since her ministry had formulated new criteria for this purpose. She demanded De Hartoch explain why the transfer process cannot finally get underway after six months of repeated delays and after she had already approved the criteria in accordance with the law.

Exhibiting no shame De Hartoch accused the Education Minister of drafting inequitable criteria, but was unable to specify just what was inequitable. The Education Minister was angry at the accusations lodged against her, saying that the Education Ministry's legal advisor, Attorney Morag, worked behind her back to collaborate with De Hartoch against the criteria. Livnat said she has filed a complaint against Morag with Attorney General Mani Mazuz.

Livnat also claimed no legal advisor, including the Attorney General, is above the law, which states criteria must be formulated to allow the distribution of funding to Torah culture organizations.

The Finance Committee's legal advisor, Attorney S. Afik, told MKs that it is the Education Minister who is entitled to formulate criteria and act in accordance with them even though De Hartoch continues to delay their execution. Livnat has already held all of the required consultations with the legal advisor and the other relevant entities, including the Torah culture organizations.

Committee Chairman MK Rabbi Yaakov Litzman said he discussed the matter with Attorney General Mani Mazuz demanding that he approve the criteria to enable the distribution of funding to the Torah culture organizations and said Mazuz promised to give him an answer within a few days.

At the end of the meeting the committee called on the Education Ministry to release the overdue funding within days, to complete the approval procedures for the new criteria and to distribute the funding to the Torah culture organizations as required by law.


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