Today it has become almost impossible to find a single news
article on problems the country faces that does not place
some of the blame on the chareidim. This is not paranoia, but
fact. The following is a selection of telling examples:
Mr. Levine [pseudonym] writes about a young woman suffering
from a rare disease who was in need of a drug that cost her
NIS 10,000 ($2,200) for every six-week treatment cycle.
Bituach Leumi does not cover the medication and the patient
complained, "When I was healthy I paid taxes and now the
State is throwing me to the dogs." Writes Mr. Levine, "In an
absurd way, she is not entirely right. Bituach Leumi cannot
cover every expense. What if her medication cost a million
dollars per day? The State cannot afford such expenses . . .
" Yet her anger, explains Mr. Levine, stems from what she
reads in the paper and the calculations she makes based on
this information. "Two hundred and twenty-one thousand
yeshiva students receive monthly allowances from the State of
Israel. These are healthy people. This money could have been
used to save many sick people like her." To his credit, Mr.
Levine also made note of the NIS 17 billion ($3.8 billion)
used to bail out the kibbutzim, but he forgot to mention the
respective budgets for universities, theater, athletics and
other expenditures generously doled out from the State
Another example: A feature story discussed the danger of
collapse of the IDF's reserve system. The article indicated
that only a small percentage of the 250,000 reservists
actually serve during the course of a given year. Yet a more
pressing problem is the army's shameful lack of consideration
for reserve soldiers, including students and self-employed
workers. Furthermore, income tax is deducted from the per-
diem compensation given for reserve duty, injuries are not
covered by medical insurance, some basic financial provisions
are not provided, and various other abominations are carried
out by military authorities toward those who are willing to
devote up to four weeks every year for the sake of national
The national security budget consumes a sizable portion of
the State budget, and it should have enough funding available
to compensate reserve soldiers fittingly, but the writer of
the article found it imperative to place some of the blame on
the chareidim. "I'm not saying the chareidim should be
recruited," says one disgruntled reserve soldier, "but with
all the money spent on them, some money should go to us, to
those who make a contribution."
This is not the type of extreme incitement propagated by Tomy
Lapid and company. There are ways of defending against
incitement by Shinui and Meretz, for every sane person knows
that they lash out without provocation and in fact their
attacks do not go unchallenged, whereas the above two
examples are far less direct.
In every article, whether on the unemployed, the sick,
reservists, students or any other segment of the economy,
news writers never fail to mention that the problem could be
solved merely by curtailing the flow of funds to the
chareidim. They create an impression that the State is really
doing chareidi institutions a favor by allocating funds. It
has an obligation to assist students, Arabs, theaters or any
taxpayer, yet money given to chareidim is a special benefit
that lies behind all of the country's economic problems.
The facts bear repeating: The State is not doing any special
favor by channeling a minuscule percentage of the budget to
the chareidi sector, just as no one considers it a special
favor when the State provides support for a failing theater.
Every citizen pays taxes with the knowledge that the money is
not spent exclusively on security, but is used for social
programs as well. The chareidi sector does not pay less in
taxes than any other sector--whether in terms of income tax
from employees and the self-employed or indirect taxes such
as VAT. The reality, say objective economic observers, is
that chareidi public institutions receive less than would be
expected in proportion to their representation in the general
But who listens to facts and figures when the provocation
press plies its trade day and night? Who needs to verify
facts when every reporter knows he is expected to mention the
chareidim in every article--whether relevant to the topic of
discussion or not--or else the article will not be sent to
If a survey were conducted it would undoubtedly show that a
large majority of the population believes the "exorbitant"
funds given to the chareidim should be halted. Many
respondents would probably also support the termination of
funding for chareidi institutions and perhaps, to cover past
expenses, the imposition of a special tax on the chareidi
community for the right to live in the enlightened State of
Israel and to breathe its air.
This is not a modern Israeli invention. Jewish history, from
the Nation of Israel's incipient beginnings and over the
course of thousands of years, has been filled with many such
examples. The attitude towards the Jews throughout the
generations has been transposed onto the chareidim since the
founding of "the Jewish State." There is nothing new under
From the Nation's inception at the beginning of sefer
Shemos, government authorities have invariably displayed
similar attitudes toward the Jewish population in their
midst. Just as with the chareidim today, afflicting the Jews
has always been ostensibly for the common good, in order to
save the state from the Jewish/chareidi threat.
In his commentary on the Chumash, HaRav Shamshon
Rafael Hirsch draws such close parallels between Pharaoh's
decrees and the events of his day (and similar to today) that
the thousands of years that have transpired since then almost
seem to disappear. One excerpt from his commentary in
particular reveals how the wheel of history turns without
After he explains how the oppressive decrees against
foreigners were directed from above as a political tool by a
despot trying to make the public forget his own tyranny over
the entire population, he writes:
"There is little new under the sun and historical events at
large are as old as history itself. Whenever a tyrant wanted
to oppress a people, he would give them a lower class to
oppress and thus be indemnified for his own oppression. Many
of the special laws applied to Jews during the Middle Ages
and later have this policy to thank for their origin. Similar
considerations may have guided this first instigator of the
earliest incident of these anti-Jewish laws. Pharaoh wanted
to compensate the Egyptian people whom he held in oppressive
subjection by creating for their benefit a caste of pariahs
on which every other caste could look down with contempt, and
each person could imagine himself a free man in comparison.
But the fact that Pharaoh could not reproach the Jews with
anything beyond their rate of multiplication, and to justify
his intended harshness had to take his stand on supposed
motives of high state policy, is a brilliant testimony to the
high standard of the social behavior of the Jews.
"It is true that we can learn from Yechezkel (22:8)
that the same cannot be said of their spiritual behavior,
that they did not retain their faithfulness toward Hashem . .
. But within the social realm it seems that no claim was made
against them. Had the Egyptians sided with Pharaoh from the
beginning, there would have been no need to stir up jealousy
through artifice and to plant such farfetched fears in their
minds. Instead of opening with a decree of exile, it could
have been concluded immediately with an order of expulsion
(on Shemos 1,9).
"The Jews became a policy issue, giving the national treasury
an interest in them, to impose burdens upon them and to
squeeze as much money as possible out of them. They were
foreigners, from a distant place, and any price could be
demanded of them for the air they were allowed to breathe.
Therefore they were given over to financial authorities:
`Veyosimu olov sorei missim' (on posuk 11).
"They were charged basic taxes as citizens of the state.
Their rights remained intact, only they were required to pay
a special tax for the right of citizenship, or for the
state's patronage. But first Egyptian hooligans were allowed
to criticize them severely. At the next stage they were
robbed of their rights and were denigrated in the public eye
when they were turned into slaves, creatures without
protection under the law" (on posuk 14).
The transformation of the chareidi public into the primary
culprit in every misfortune that befalls the economy nowadays
bears a distinct resemblance to the chain of events under
Pharaoh's rule. But we can also take courage in the promise
that the persecution in Israel today will have the same
result: "Veka'asher ye'anu oso, kein yirbeh vechein
yifrotz" (posuk 12).