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Haredi public is different. Shein Photo courtesy of Equality Now
Haredi public is different. Shein Photo courtesy of Equality Now
 
 

Promote solidarity, not anti-haredi incitement

Op-ed: Government has been discriminating against ultra-Orthodox sector for years; IDF draft issue just an excuse

Yehuda Shein
Published: 06.30.12, 15:11 / Israel Opinion

For thousands of years governments have been directing the rage of the masses towards minorities. In our times, it is the economists supporting the ties between the tycoons and the government who are leading this effort. Many ultra-Orthodox, whose only sin is their desire to preserve their unique culture - a culture that has been safeguarded for thousands of years in the face of those who tried to force them to assimilate into other cultures - suffer from systematic discrimination.

 

Despite this injustice and the blatant discrimination against them, haredim did not take to the streets in protest. This is a fact, and it's remarkable.

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Haredim do not enjoy equal employment opportunities. The State of Israel's systematic, racial discrimination against ultra-Orthodox is meant to deny them equal employment opportunities. This is why the percentage of haredim who work in the public sector is close to zero. If the State is allowed to ban ultra-Orthodox, why should private employers act differently?

 

The haredi woman is discriminated against twice: Employers view her as a cheap worker who can be exploited and paid less because she is a woman and also because she is ultra-Orthodox.

 

This alone should have motivated hundreds of thousands of haredim to take to the streets many years ago. According to studies, the poverty level within the ultra-Orthodox community should have bred significant crime and violence, but the haredi public is different. It is restrained. The ultra-Orthodox have suffered quietly for so many years and have given up basic human rights to protect their culture and freedom of religion.

 

Since there is no special law for haredim, they pay much higher taxes than seculars in the same socio-economic class. Ultra-Orthodox usually have more children, so they pay more to finance the State and the banks' brutal interest rates, which effectively double the purchase price for apartments. The same goes for the indirect tax on food and clothing items – those with more children pay more.

 


ביחד נצליח לחולל מהפכה חברתית אמיתית. יהודה שיין בהפגנה עם פעילים חברתיים (צילום: באדיבות תנועת שוויון עכשיו)

Shein with social justice activists (Photo courtesy of Equality Now)

 

But despite paying more tax, the haredi cannot enjoy many of the things the State finances with his money, because they go against his way of life and religious beliefs. To add insult to injury, the State also sets special criteria aimed at humiliating and discriminating against the haredi.

 

The haredi will also find out that the "free education law" does not apply to ultra-Orthodox, and that 50% of his expenses will go to "free discrimination." This is why this law was introduced in the first place. It is clear to all that no haredi will ever agree to an infringement of his religious freedom or to any interference in the education of his children. Therefore, the criteria were set in such a way that the discrimination against ultra-Orthodox appears legal.

 

Moreover, the incitement over the Tal Law debate is hypocritical. The army wants to gradually impose secular culture while using the haredim to extort funds from the Treasury under the pretext that it is "caring for the ultra-Orthodox" and wants to help them find work.

 

But the truth is that the IDF is not interested at all in recruiting ultra-Orthodox. It turns out that the politicians and their ilk, who incited against haredim in the name of "equality," are all liars! The issue of military service is merely an excuse for them to perpetuate the discrimination against haredim. For these people, the Tal Law debate offers an opportunity to hurt the ultra-Orthodox financially and pit other sectors against them.

 

So, it is no surprise that the same public officials who sustain the bond between the government and the tycoons and later go to work for the moguls are the ones who submitted to the Plesner Committee the most evil and draconian proposal (regarding mass conscription of haredim into the IDF), which has the most potential to turn the different sectors of society against each other.

 

Yehuda Shein is the founder of the "Equality Now" movement, which works to bring the various sectors of Israeli society closer together

 

 

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