Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

6 Cheshvan 5768 - October 18, 2007 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Knesset Defeats No-Confidence Motion Filed by UTJ Following Budget Cuts

By Eliezer Rauchberger

With a majority vote of 56 MKs from the coalition against 21 MKs from the opposition and three abstentions, on Monday a Knesset plenum rejected a joint no-confidence motion filed by UTJ and HaIchud HaLeumi-NRP due to "the danger of destroying the Torah institutions and yeshivas in light of the unprecedented cuts in their respective budgets."

UTJ representatives vocally protested the fact that Shas voted with the government and against the no-confidence motion. MK Rabbi Yaakov Litzman called out, "Minister Yishai fled abroad when budget talks were held instead of staying here to battle for the yeshiva budget, whereas the members of his party express faith in a government that cuts funding for the yeshivas."

MK Menachem Ben Sasson (Kadima) spoke of the prosperity of the yeshivas and during his speech MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni called out loudly and repeatedly. "This is a shame and a disgrace," he shouted. "This is not a Jewish state if there is almost no budget for yeshivas." After three calls to order Meeting Chairwoman MK Dalia Itzik had him ejected from the hall.

MK Rabbi Yaakov Cohen, who presented the no-confidence motion sponsored by UTJ, said the 2008 budget "is a declaration of war on the religious public, Torah-based institutions and the Torah world. All of the parameters for the budget indicate that anything with a trace of religion and vital needs for the religious and the Torah world, simply had its funding eliminated."

Later he said that the fact that the budget adds funding to many other clauses, especially education, proves there is no lack of funds in the state coffers but "simply a closing off of resources and a failure to recognize the educational needs of Israel's religious citizens as a whole, needs that have been recognized by every government since the state's founding. `Has there every been such an atrocious government?' I ask myself, and wonder what we've come to."

He also claimed that the current government, in terms of funding, is worse than the notorious Likud-Shinui government, which did not close off all the taps, adding that during that period the country was in a state of economic crisis with cuts across the board whereas today there is growth and abundance.

He also discussed Shas' membership in the government and the coalition, saying, "I don't understand why the Finance Ministry and the Government of Israel are taking advantage of Shas' refinement. After all Shas is a senior and loyal coalition partner. How is it that they strike and insult it in a manner unacceptable among friends and partners?"

Rabbi Cohen said that some people claim the cuts are all just a game of bringing "goats" into the budget to create stress, and then on the day the budget receives final approval, "If we're good little children, they'll put it all back in. And of course then the whole media will holler that we're simply blackmailers, when they're simply replacing what we rightfully deserve to receive."

He also spoke against the harm done to yeshiva ketanoh students who have been taken out of the general education system and transferred to the category of exempt institutions, a move unprecedented since the founding of the state and which may well be illegal since the yeshivas were not notified long enough in advance to allow them to prepare for the new situation.

He ended by turning to Shas MKs and asking them why they continue to sit in such a government that threatens the existence of the Torah world. "I call on the government to amend the budget book and present a rational budget that respects and recognizes the needs of the entire population of Israel on every matter," he said.


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