Yesher Koach to The Movement for Quality Government in Israel

by Maskil on 23 Oct 2008

According this recent article in the Jerusalem Post:

The Movement for Quality Government … petitioned the High Court of Justice to order the government to stop subsidizing haredi elementary schools that are not recognized by the state and are not under its supervision.

… the Ministry of Education allocates each year more than NIS 170 million to haredi elementary schools, known as talmudei torah, which are not part of the recognized Independent education and Ma’ayan Hachinuch Hatorani haredi streams, even though there is no legal basis for the funding.

“If Israel is based on the rule of law, this situation cannot continue. Not only does it transfer millions of shekels of public money without a legal basis… [the state] transfers the funds to a private body which has no experience or training in supervising the spending of the funds and whose interests are not identical with the public interest,” the petition says.

Recently, the Knesset passed a law obliging the state to allocate to yeshivot [haredi secondary schools similar in age group to state high schools] 60 percent of the funding that it grants state secular and religious schools, even though the yeshivot refuse to teach the core curriculum.

Anyone who cares about the future of a rational Judaism, the Jewish people and a secure and just Israel should applaud this move on the part of an organisation doing what the various arms of government itself should be, and are failing – in fact not even attempting – to do.

I firmly believe that not one shekel of public funds (or one dollar of donated funds) should be diverted to support schools that are not controlled and supervised by the education ministry. The fact that they exist should be enough, but they need to be paid for entirely by those who utilise them, not out of funds diverted (misappropriated might be a better word) from the treasury. The Israeli taxpayer should not be subject to this form of “double taxation” by being forced to pay for both a public and various private educational systems.

The same discipline and controls need to be applied to donations from abroad, etc., unless the funds have been specifically raised for the purpose of subsidising Haredi education, with the knowledge and permission of donors.

At the same time, however, the Jewish content of the state educational system needs to be reinforced in a pluralistic manner, that gives weight to other ways and interpretations of Judaism and Jewish culture.

There is a word for the redirecting of public funds to private purposes: that word is corruption. We all owe a debt of gratitude to The Movement for Quality Government in Israel for tackling this abuse head on. Show your support for what the MQG is attempting to do by joining (and contributing, if you are in a position to do so) here.

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