Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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10 Shevat 5768 - January 17, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Knesset Votes Down No-Confidence Motion Over Ohr Yehuda School Left Without Electricity

By Eliezer Rauchberger

With a majority of coalition votes, the Knesset plenum defeated a no-confidence motion filed by United Torah Judaism due to "scheming and cutting off electricity at Michtav MeEliahu schools and kindergartens in Ohr Yehuda."

Sixty-four coalition members, include Shas MKs, voted against the no-confidence motion, and only 28 MKs from the opposition supported it. The five MKs from Meretz and MK Talab El-Sana abstained.

UTJ MK Rabbi Yaakov Cohen, who presented the no-confidence motion, described the situation as an ongoing scheme against the school and the chareidi education system, which reached its peak when the electricity was shut off at a chareidi school in Ohr Yehuda attended by over 500 students. The school has been without electricity for two months.

"The cruelty and rigidity that lies behind this measure defies description," said MK Rabbi Cohen. "That in Israel in the 2000s children sit bundled in jackets, studying in the dark and the cold, especially during the unusually cold days we've been having lately [is shocking]. I think there can be no greater shame."

Education Minister Yuli Tamir, who responded in the name of the government, said the electricity had been reconnected and all that remains is the problem of a debt amounting to NIS 30,000 ($8,000). This sum was transferred to the Ohr Yehuda municipality by the Interior Ministry, and the school must submit a request in order to receive the money as a one-time support payment. In the future there should be no problem and the money will be transferred in an orderly fashion without any need to request a support payment.

Tamir said originally the school lacked licensing and only later was it recognized by the municipality. MKs Rabbi Gafni and Rabbi Cohen objected, saying that the school has been operating for decades and the Minister was confusing it with another school, but Ms. Tamir insisted she was not mistaken.

"The State of Israel is a country that develops [sophisticated] missiles and has [top] scientists. Yet this country does not know how to connect the electricity?" asked Rabbi Gafni. "The Education Minister says the school has a debt to pay...This is a debt that the local authority owes for not paying the electricity bill...What do we need a government for if not to take care of schools?

"Does anyone imagine such a thing could happen at a school that's not chareidi? We filed a no-confidence motion over the government's racism. Over the fact that there's a difference in the State of Israel between chareidi children and non- chareidi children."

The electricity at the Ohr Yehuda school was reconnected on Monday on a temporary basis until February.


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