Protesters to Gafni: We’re yeshiva students too

In protest against bill that proposes living allowances for yeshiva students, activists write: We're not suckers.

October 29, 2010 03:22
1 minute read.
Illustrative photo - Yeshiva students study

young haredis studying 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Dozens of activists sent requests to be registered as yeshiva students to MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) on Thursday, in a protest against a law he has proposed that would award living allowances to full-time yeshiva students with three children or more and no other source of income.

In their letters to Gafni’s bureau, the protesters wrote, “Following the wave of reports in the media, I came to the conclusion that I don’t belong to the sucker part of Israeli society.

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Therefore, I have decided to register at your office as an ordinary yeshiva student.”

As part of their protests against the so-called “Yeshiva students law,” the organization also set up stands in downtown Jerusalem to sign up secular youths for yeshiva study.

The applicants were asked to sign a faux statement reading that they would study Torah “in exchange for monthly payments and an exemption from military enlistment and reserves duty.” The National Union of Students in Israel has taken a strong stance against the proposed law and held a protest at the Sira junction in Herzliya on Wednesday, where the union’s chairman Itzik Shmueli was arrested and taken into police custody for several hours. At simultaneous protests across the country, around 12 students were arrested.

On Monday, students from campuses across Israel plan to hold a protest march against the bill in Jerusalem, held under the title “Not suckers – taking the fate of the country into our own hands.” The students will be joined by activists and politicians from a wide range of parties and NGOs.

Union Chairman Itzik Shmueli told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that “the protest isn’t against the haredi population or their integration into academics. It’s just that we are also students, and we pay taxes, pay rent and tuition, serve in the army and are therefore against this discriminatory law. The struggle is not against the haredis, but in favor of equality, equality for all students.”

In the wake of the yeshiva students’ law, Gafni has also recently proposed an amendment to the arrangements that would allow haredi youths to work in tax consulting even without having a high school matriculation certificate.

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