To The Editor:
The recent "pray in" in Jerusalem was reported in a negative
light by elements of the British press.
In a paradoxical stance the otherwise anti-Israel (read:
antisemitic) Guardian has used data issued by the
Israeli government to vilify the orthodox community.
In most countries where language barriers or obstacles to
travel are perceived to exist, the authorities provide a news
service for foreign correspondents, from which individual
reports are composed.
The Israeli government has long done this, thereby ensuring
that only the news they wish to have reported actually
reaches the free world, and in a format acceptable to
government policy. One of the greatest fears they have always
faced is exposure of their treatment of the Orthodox
It appears, though, that a new direction in policy has
recently been initiated.
The following information appeared in the Guardian as
background information to the issues surrounding the
controversy between Meretz and the religious community.
Estimated population [of the Orthodox community] is between
250-600,000, around 8% of the total population, compared with
the 3.1 million secular Israeli Jews. Over 40% are under the
age of 18. 60% do not work and are not looking for work.
Gross income per family is around 3,690 shekels, about $900
and approximately half that of a secular family. 55% of that
income comes from state funding, compared with an average of
12% for secular population. Average government grant aid to
ultra-Orthodox yeshiva student is double that of secular
university student. 62% of the Ultra Orthodox receive an 80%
discount on municipal tax, compared with 10% of the secular
These are not simply Israeli government statistics, but a
carefully constructed justification of Meretz complaints.
The agenda in publishing this data is clear; to publicize for
the governments of the free world that there exists a group
of Jews, easily identifiable by their dress, language and
conduct, capable of imitating in other countries the behavior
claimed in Israel.
The offensive has now expanded to include communities in the
diaspora. Should this attack be taken seriously by overseas
governmental agencies, the result could be devastating to
It is incumbent upon the Orthodox community in Israel to
justify its own policies in relying on government benefits,
without exposing itself to slander which inculpates others
who may well not even agree with those policies.
It is moreover incumbent upon the Orthodox community to
appoint a spokesman which has relevant data at his fingertips
to refute Meretz publicity campaigns, and to ensure that the
Orthodox side of the story reaches foreign news services and
is used by them.
A British Reader