On Saturday night, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef again referred to secular teachers as “asses.” Sadly, I am inclined to agree with him. There is no better nickname to describe those willing to take this ungrateful and demanding job for such low salaries. The lowly wages, the need to face rude students (and worse than that – their parents,) and the insufficient backing by the education system have all been discussed to death in the past. However, I suspect the rabbi was not talking about that.
However, there is one thing that worries me in this respect. Shas’ new objective, the Education Ministry. Party officials claim that in light of the success of the ultra-Orthodox education system, this great light should be instilled in all other Israelis. Yet I have no idea what success Eli Yishai and his colleagues refer to. It appears to me that they are mostly boasting an education system which they claim is devoid of stabbings and drugs. However, the media prove that the opposite is true on a daily basis. Oh well. But what about enlightenment?
“Enlightenment.” We are dealing with a very charged word for the ultra-Orthodox community. With the exception of “pork,” there is no dirtier word for Shas members and their followers, and they know well why this is so. Enlightenment constitutes a highly tangible threat on their pool of potential voters. After all, we have yet to see university lecturers joining Shas en masse. Indeed, why should Shas have any interest in promoting enlightenment in Israel? For them this is akin to shooting themselves in the foot.
Therefore, first of all we must look into the kind of contribution that Shas’ wheelers and dealers can make to enlightenment even if they wished to do so. Would it be through publishing scientific articles such as “homosexuality and its effect on the Richter Scale” that will be representing Israel in geology magazines? And what about education? Will the party boasting the highest number of representatives go to jail be educating our children?
Without any trace of cynicism, I must say that I greatly admire the sharp-minded Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. Sadly, I cannot say the same of his political functionaries, some of which are complete ignoramuses. For example, on Sunday one of them linked European newspapers in the 1930s to Kadima’s media advisors. Perhaps he would have understood the severity of his words had he learned history from some “ass.”
However, despite the above, we must keep in mind that the poor state of education in our country is not at all Shas’ fault. Indeed, many were quick to make use of the rabbi’s words, just to absolve themselves of responsibility. Tzipi Livni, for example, declared (probably on her consultants’ advice) that “those who want education to be in Shas’ hands should not be voting for me.”
Meanwhile, Education Minister Tamir (who allegedly referred to her former ministry director general as a “piece of shit” – highly educational indeed) also had something to say. The poor woman was very insulted on behalf of all teachers, and immediately demanded an apology from Rabbi Yosef.
However, Prof. Tamir, you are the one who should be apologizing. I’m certain it will come naturally after you take a look at the pay slips of the “asses” you are in charge of.