Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

29 Adar 5759 - March 17, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly







Opinion & Comment
Combating the Disinformation

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 community.

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 community.

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 those communities.

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.

Yours sincerely,

A British Reader

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