Haredi man in front of tents in Jerusalem 521.
(photo credit: Reuters)
It’s not nice to say, but I have a feeling that the Trajtenberg Committee is
simply superfluous. Even before the professor was brought in to carry out one of
the main tasks the ministers in the elected government in any proper democratic
country are responsible for, a few wise people and economists had already found
the real culprits in the socioeconomic crisis: the haredi community.
haredi community, so they claim, is responsible for the socioeconomic situation
and for holding back GDP; in general, it is the haredi community that is guilty
– end of discussion. It sounds good. The media also love it. So why not? What
happens to the haredi community never happens to any other sector in Israel.
Reporters and commentators permit themselves to write the magical word haredi as
much as they like, without learning about or investigating their way of life, or
the significant socioeconomic changes taking place in the sector.
these same reporters would just learn a little and get to know a few simple
facts about the lives of these same “haredi” people they write about time and
again, maybe they would understand how wrong and misleading they have
Some of the claims are simply unbelievable, yet over the years that
the social debate has been taking place, they have become facts. In every
argument between haredi and secular people, the same claims are heard, and this
is despite the fact that most of them have no factual basis. And now, in the
socioeconomic campaign, these same commentators are repeating these claims and
slogans without thoroughly checking them.
Many thousands of haredi men
and women work for a living in the present, have done so in the past and will
continue to do so in the future. They work as teachers, educators, engineers,
lawyers, doctors, journalists, laborers and cashiers. This is the reality.
Thousands of haredi people go out every morning to their place of work to
properly provide for their families. This is the reality that I, as a haredi
man, know and live. But you will never hear or read about this from well-known
commentators or economists.
Another ridiculous claim that is heard again
and again is that the haredi community does not pay taxes. I searched, checked
and asked my accountant which tax I, as a haredi person, am exempt from paying,
and I just couldn’t find one. He also could not find one.
community pays much higher indirect taxes than secular Israelis; haredi families
buy much more milk, bread and diapers than secular families. On each of these
items, taxes are paid to the state. So where is this outrageous claim taken
from: that haredi people do not pay taxes. Why do the media back these
generalized, unfounded slurs? Even if the claim refers to income tax, half of
the haredi workers do not even reach the income-tax threshold. Is this claim
aimed at them too? Most income-tax revenue comes from the upper echelons. It’s
time for this economic arrogance toward the haredi community to stop and for
these lies and slogans that are repeated, without having a drop of truth to
them, to cease.
I would never dare to write a column on science. I also
wouldn’t write a column about biology or medicine. All of you wise guys who
blame the haredi community: Before you write something, check your facts, study
a little, get to know some people, and know what you’re writing about. The facts
as I know them are not hidden. Whoever truly wants to know is invited to become
acquainted with the truth.Yerach Toker is Knesset Finance Committee
chairman Moshe Gafni’s media adviser.