Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

12 Kislev 5768 - November 22, 2007 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network











MK Gafni: "This is an Anti-Religious Government in the Full Sense of the Word"

By Eliezer Rauchberger

"Based on an inclusive assessment of the things done during the present term by this government, I've reached the conclusion that this is an anti-religious government in the full sense of the word," MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni (UTJ) told the government as he presented a no-confidence motion together with HaIchud HaLeumi-NRP regarding the imminent dismissal of dozens of local rabbonim. Rabbi Gafni made his remarks in the full knowledge that the chareidi Shas party is a member of the government coalition.

The motion was taken off the agenda with a majority of 50 MKs from the coalition against just 11 MKs from the opposition and 5 abstentions. The supporters were from United Torah Judaism, the Likud, HaIchud HaLeumi-NRP and Ra'am-Ta'al. The opponents came from coalition parties Kadima, Yisrael Beiteinu, Shas, Pensioners and Labor. The abstentions were from Meretz and two MKs from Arab parties.

The Knesset plenum also rejected two no-confidence motions related to foreign affairs.

The Yisrael Beiteinu MKs who backed the government in the first two no-confidence votes chose not to participate in the vote and did not support the government in the Likud's no- confidence motion on the issue of the building freeze in the Territories. MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu) even warned that his party would resign from the coalition if the government continued its present course in dealings with the Palestinians and its various concessions.

MK Rabbi Gafni spoke of the danger involved in dismissing dozens of rabbonim following the Prime Minister's decision to merge local authorities, meaning that one of every two local rabbis would lose his post and turn into a religious council worker, even though religious council employees would retain their rights.

Rabbi Gafni also said no chief rabbis have been appointed for years, with the exception of Tel Aviv, meaning that the number of rabbis has already declined drastically, as if the State is saying it has no need for rabbis. "Rabbis have gone into retirement, rabbis have passed away [and no replacement was appointed]. No need. Imagine a situation in which a treasurer at a local authority retires, or the [city] engineer retires, the mayor resigns, the [municipal] secretary leaves. Would anyone consider not bringing in someone to replace him immediately? But when it comes to chief rabbis of cities and rabbis of neighborhoods, this is not the case, and the number has gone down. In my opinion there is a shortage of about 50 rabbis, and nobody is speaking out. Everything is business as usual."

He went on to enumerate the Kadima-Shas government's injustices against the chareidi public one-by-one, e.g. the attempt to lower the salary of teachers at Agudas Yisroel kindergartens with 30 years' experience from NIS 9,000 to minimum wage. "This kind of thing doesn't happen in any properly run country," he said.

He then discussed the scandalous budget cuts for the yeshivas and kollelim, which have recently received notice that although the 5768 academic is already well underway, support funding for avreichim will be reduced by about one- third in the current year and the allocation for foreign yeshiva students will be cancelled entirely. "As I go from one issue to the next, I'm not finding anything positive to say about this government," said Rabbi Gafni.

He also noted that the nearly 50-percent cut in Welfare Ministry funding for chareidi dormitories (mostly boys' high schools known as yeshiva ketanos), from NIS 40 million ($10 million) to NIS 22 million ($5.5 million), as well as the NIS 18 million ($4.5 million) cut in the budget for girls' seminaries.

"Not a single issue related to the State of Israel as a Jewish state...has remained intact. Everything has been harmed, based on a clear ideology. Chief rabbis of cities are unneeded, neighborhood rabbis are unneeded, yeshivas are unneeded, the chareidi education system is unneeded. The only thing that's needed is all sorts of neveilos and treifos that can be imported. Customs are not cancelled or reduced for anything — except for shrimp. Just the shrotzim."


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