Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

29 Adar II 5763 - April 2, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Implementing Shinui's Campaign Platform

The economic plan for Israel has been proposed but not yet approved. The struggle against it has begun with work actions early this week and could widen to strikes all over, and even a general strike.

There is no doubt that the situation in Israel (as in many parts of the world) is very serious and requires drastic cuts in government programs. However as proposed by the Finance Ministry and its new Finance Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, there is a significant piece of social engineering buried in all the plans, and the object of this effort is us -- the chareidi community.

"You are the first ones who should support me. You may not know this, but I am implementing your campaign platform." According to senior journalist Nachum Barnea, this is a direct quotation from Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appealing to MKs from Shinui to support his plan for the Israeli economy. The main content Shinui's campaign platform was attacks on the chareidi community, and in particular the demand that we not be part of the government and that everything possible be done to harm us.

The Finance Ministry bureaucrats have for years had an array of proposals, big and small, designed to hit the chareidi community and the Torah world. However up until now not one prime minister or finance minister has dared to propose those draconian cuts as actual policy. The reasons were not just coalition agreements with chareidi parties. The fact is that these targeted cuts are manifestly anti-democratic and discriminatory against a significant sector of Israeli society.

The current finance minister, seemingly adopting the anti- Jewish spirit that underlies the Shinui party and that was at the basis of the current government's coalition agreement, was the first to embrace all the proposals of the Finance Ministry bureaucrats: severe cuts in child support, drastic cuts in the budgets of Torah educational institutions (which were always underfunded), cutting off government funding for yeshiva students from chutz la'aretz, a big reduction in support for kollelim -- in short to make every possible reduction in government support for the chareidi community, even if its impact on the budget is minimal.

Even though Netanyahu granted an interview to several chareidi journalists who did not resist the temptation to meet with him, in which he claimed that he is worried about the harm to the chareidim and that he was forced to make the cuts by the coalition agreement, actions speak louder than words.

Barnea writes: "The approach that gave birth to the economic plan is very controversial. The means are cruel, and on the borderline of the legal. The pace is brutal. The preference for the rich is disgusting . . . This government is the least socially-oriented of all governments of Israel."

Barnea claims that most of the ministers did not review the plan carefully before voting for it. Given the speed with which they were forced to decide, they had no time to do so. Now it is said that the government hopes to have the plan, which is revolutionary for Israel, approved by the Knesset within a week!

Be that as it may, the five ministers of Shinui certainly had no need to go through the voluminous details. Their only concern was to see if the prime minister and the finance minister fulfilled their coalition commitment to hit at the chareidi community. Once they were satisfied on this score, their support was assured.

We regard Hashem as the source of our existence and not any government of men. He has promised us that the Torah will persist, despite those who try their hardest to stamp it out, chas vesholom. Yet that certainly does not free us from the obligation to speak out and try our best to stop this widespread assault on us.

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