The Israeli government's funding of yeshivas (religious Talmudic academies) continues to drop, as some $38 million are expected to be allocated to certain yeshivas next year, according to the 2008 budget proposal received at the Knesset Monday.
Many anti-Zionist yeshivas have always refused on principle to accept any funding from the Israeli government. Other yeshivas, while anti-Zionist, have historically compromised and accepted the funding due to their dire need for it. Their political party, United Torah Judaism, has members in the Israeli Knesset who use their influence to obtain the funding.
Members of the UTJ party were furious with the proposal, which suggested cutting funds to yeshivas by $111 million; $162 million were allocated to yeshivas in 2007. In 2002, yeshivas received $256 million.
The Israeli government has decided on a budgetary assassination of the yeshivas, MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) said Tuesday. The MK didnt mince words about his feelings towards the coalitions haredi party.
Shas, which pretends to be an orthodox party, is an accomplice in the annihilation of the Torah world. With a steady hand, its members voted for this destructive coalition time and time again, Gafni said.
According to Gafni, Prime Minister Ehud Olmerts government has been the most destructive to the haredi public. Even when Shinui was in the government, much higher sums were allocated to the Torah world than in the current budget, he said.
Fellow UTJ member Avraham Ravitz called the budget proposal "cruel," adding that funds allocated to the yeshivas should be protected by law. He said the current situation whereby the yeshivas receive funding on a year-by-year basis forces the UTJ MKs to launch lobbying campaigns in a bid to secure the funds.
MK Shmuel Halpert, also a UTJ member, said the government was "annihilating the yeshivas' budget" and therefore had "no right to exist".
Gafni continued to say that "the Jewish public in Israel and the world will not forgive the coalition, which is causing great harm to those who study Torah harm that is redolent of dark eras in Jewish history.
"The Jewish public will especially not forgive Shas," he said.
Shas officials said in response that Gafni should be reminded that the party's ministers voted against the budget.
The Torah says, "The bribe blinds the eye of the wise and twists the words of the righteous." For years these compromising yeshivas have been accepting the Zionist bribe, and the strength of their ideological opposition to Zionism has suffered as a result. Although it will be hard for them, in the long run this diminishing of the bribe will add to their spiritual health, for the less money they receive from the Zionists, the more clearly their minds will be able to consider the issue of the Zionist heresy and the threat it poses to the Jewish people.