A Unity Government, Without Arabs and Without Haredim

The study of Torah is good in combination with an occupation, since the toil of both makes sin forgotten. All Torah that is not combined with work will eventually cease and lead to sin. — Rabban Gamliel, son of Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi (Babylonian Talmud, Avot 2:2)

Without Herut and Without Maki – David Ben Gurion*

I like reading about Jewish history and especially the modern history of the State of Israel. One thing I learned about were the almost incomprehensible sacrifices made by some people in order to get here, to create an actual Jewish state in our homeland after millennia of often oppressive exile, and to defend it in essentially a 71-year long war. Maybe longer. The land is soaked in our blood, the blood of Jewish people.

The world is full of Jew-haters. It seems that it has always been so, since the day we left Egypt. When they didn’t hate us, they tolerated us as second-class humans. Sometimes not even as humans.

In most places, they got what they always said they wanted. Much of the world is now Jew-free. Hitler and Stalin eliminated the Jews of Europe, and the Muslim world vomited them out in response to the “insult” of the re-establishment of our state. The Jewish state has become the center of the Jewish universe, in one human lifetime. The conditions that allowed the Jewish people to survive as a people in diaspora are now gone. If the Jewish state does not continue to exist, neither will the Jewish people.

Unfortunately, the State of Israel is in serious danger now. And not just from the Iranian regime and the Palestinian Arabs (although these are serious threats too).

In an article published a few weeks ago demographer Dan Ben-David notes that the academic accomplishments of Israeli children are among the worst in the developed world. Without a well-educated population, we will not be able to maintain our first-world economy, or for that matter, our first-world military. This is in part because of the combination of the lack of a core curriculum including “secular” subjects like mathematics and English in Haredi schools, and an astronomical Haredi birthrate of “7.1 children, in contrast to 4.0 among [non-Haredi] religious Jews, 3.4 among Muslim Arab-Israelis and 2.2 among secular Jews.”

Here is a graph that projects the likely size of these groups in 2065:

It is reassuring to know that Meir Kahane’s prediction that the Arabs would out-reproduce us  will not be fulfilled, but the explosive growth of a Haredi population that is not prepared to contribute to a modern technology and information based economy is unsustainable. In 2014 only 13% of Haredi 12th grade boys took matriculation exams required for admission to universities, compared to 78% of non-Haredi boys (figures for girls are higher, 32% vs. 87%). Although entrance requirements to universities are often waived for them, there is a high dropout rate. In 2014 only 2.4% of Haredi men and 8.3% of Haredi women aged 25-35 held academic degrees, compared to 28% and 45% respectively in the non-Haredi population.

“High-tech” is only a solution for those who can read documentation in English and do mathematics. Gemara may or may not have spiritual value, but it isn’t helpful in microprocessor design, for example.

Although non-Haredim are angered by the refusal of the Haredi parties to agree to allow a reasonable percentage of their youth to do military service (or other national service), the worse problem is that they are not suited for it, or for many other kinds of employment – intellectually, physically, or temperamentally.

This is a politically-caused problem. The laws that would require secular subjects to be taught in any school that receives government funding either don’t exist, have no teeth, or are not enforced. The government supports the yeshivot in which young men study Torah, and liberal welfare benefits make it possible for underemployed families (supported primarily by women, who mostly work in education or child care in their communities for low salaries) to grow unaffected by economic constraints.

The fact that almost every Israeli government since the first has included the Haredi parties, with them often holding the balance of power, means that little is done to change the situation.

I am not anti-religion and I am not anti-Haredi. But the existence of a large class of Jews whose only occupation is study has never before existed in Jewish history. Perhaps there are 100 or even 1000 Torah scholars so important that they should be supported by the state – but tens or hundreds of thousands?

I am aware that the Left uses these facts as ammunition against the Right, which most recently has been depending on support from the Haredi parties to form its coalitions. But nevertheless they are facts, and we have to face the truth that the Right, for which I vote, has been irresponsible, caving in to the exaggerated demands of the Haredim.

It seems to me that war with Iran and/or its proxies is inevitable, and analysts agree that this will be one of Israel’s most difficult wars, both for the IDF and for the home front, which will be exposed to the huge missile arsenals accumulated by Hamas and especially Hezbollah. At this moment, tension is especially high, and it seems clear that we need a strong national unity government capable of both managing the war to come and bringing together the population.

Unfortunately, Benny Gantz is a mediocrity with a mediocre record who should not be Prime Minister, and his associates are worse. Binyamin Netanyahu is under a legal cloud and will probably be indicted. Despite his brilliance, Netanyahu seems to only be able to function as a dictator, one who believes that he is both omnipotent and immortal, and doesn’t need to delegate authority or allow for a successor.

As I write, the anti-Zionist Arab parties are considering recommending Gantz to the President to form the government. They haven’t recommended a Zionist party since 1992, when they recommended Rabin’s Labor Party. If they do, they will have received some significant promises in return. If Gantz were to make a deal with them, it would be something less than treasonous, but still a betrayal.

The best practical solution seems to be a unity government without Arabs (or acquiescence to their demands) and without Haredim, with the Likud led by someone other than Netanyahu. And yes, there would have to be a rotation of the PM job between Likud and Blue and White.

Is such a thing possible? I don’t know. Certainly today it looks unlikely.

But one thing is certain: there will not be another election. Only politicians and ad agencies like elections, and the people have had enough. We need a government, and we need it now – before we are at war.

_____________________________
* A campaign slogan of Ben Gurion’s, meaning that neither Herut – the predecessor of today’s Likud and a party that Ben Gurion wanted to paint as extremist – and Maki, the communist party, could join his coalition.

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2 Responses to A Unity Government, Without Arabs and Without Haredim

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    Leiberman is right in insisting that the Haredi population must be made to study the ‘core subjects’ and be future large- scale contributors to the Israeli economy.
    The Prime Minister whose capabilities are so far beyond that of his main rivals has shown especially in this most recent political campaign unusually poor judgment. And as you say he also shows an incapacity to conceive and work for an Israel which will go on without him. I do not know what the answer to this is especially as the Iranians continue to surround us. I would hope that somehow sanctions, and the total breakdown of their economy would defeat them but that is just ‘hoping’. In any case I would say that one of the major elements in the remarkable Netanyahu record of the past ten years has been the success against terror, the keeping of the country largely safe.

  2. Comment posted on behalf of Yair Davidiy:

    Shalom,
    In your article “A Unity Government, Without Arabs and Without Haredim”
    you remarked (after quoting an authority) that,

    “the academic accomplishments of Israeli children are among the worst in the developed world. Without a well-educated population, we will not be able to maintain our first-world economy, or for that matter, our first-world military.”

    Fair enough.

    You then proceeded to claim that part of the problem lies with the Hareidim. The rest of your article was also mostly concerned with the Ultra-Orthodox.
    The accomplishments of Israeli children are on the whole those of the Secular and National Religious sectors. They are the ones where the majority of students are to be found. They are also the sectors that receive most of the resources. Governmental authorities invest five times as much in a secular child compared to a Hareidi one. If there is a problem with educational results then the non-Hareidi sectors should be the ones to be challenged. The Hareidim are not really interested in imparting knowledge on secular subjects but the Secular and their ilk are, or purport to be. They are those who have failed in the cause they champion and receive money for. The Hareidim concentrate on other aspects of education. Relatively speaking they are successful in raising children with those values and background they hold to be valuable. The other segments of society could perhaps learn from them concerning pedagogical methods and attitude as well as subject matter.
    While we are on the subject of utilizing available human resources and Hareidim a few more remarks may be in place.
    The Israeli Civil Service is the largest employer in the country. Hareidim are virtually barred from it. Why is that?
    The situation has been compared to Poland and its discrimination against Jews before World War-2.
    The bureaucracy in Israel is ranked alongside those of third world countries and is one of the factors holding the country back.
    Its negative attitude towards Strongly Observant Religious Jews does not seem to have helped it.
    If the Powers-that-be were serious about wanting more Hareidim in the work force they would do something to rectify the matter.
    The same applies in other fields. Give the Hareidim more of a stake in the country and a more equitable access to available resources and matters might change.
    As for serving or not serving in the army in Biblical Times the Tribe of Levi also did not go out to war with the rest of Israel.
    Some Hareidim do serve in the IDF and some do not.
    Personally I agree with the view that full-time Torah scholars should always be exempt. Torah learning has a value in its own right. Apart from that our continued existence in this Land is dependent on a modicum of Torah observance (Exodus 6:4, Leviticus 18:26-28, 20;22, 25:38,1-Chronicles 16:17-18, Psalm 105:10-11). Torah Learning is a precondition for this. In the Army you have soldiers who cook, who sit in offices, who do all sorts of others things apart from the ones who actually fight. Similarly, Jewish society is better off with as many Torah scholars as possible.
    Before we get to an examination of these issues however there are other matters needing clarification.
    The IDF has educational aims. It is exploited by Secular Powers to influence inductees in a secular direction. Even without a conscious ideological aim the objective reality gives it a secularizing effect. Most Religious Jews who go into the IDF come out less observant than when they went it.
    This is part of an ideological war over the soul of the Jewish people. The conscription of female soldiers is not necessary. It may cost more than it is worth. It is actually military deleterious. Studies have been done in Israel, the USA, UK, and elsewhere confirming the negative effects women in the military have. Facts on the ground however on this issue do not matter. For ideological reasons the policy will be maintained. The secular forces in Israeli society will be prepared to make the sacrifice for the sake of a secular ideology. It may also be the case that the IDF does not need more soldiers than it already has. Pressure to conscript Hareidim does not emanate from defense needs but rather from anti-Religious ideological ones.

    I could go on but I doubt that this is necessary.

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