President Peres meets UTJ MKs Litzman and Porush..
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
United Torah Judaism MKs Ya’acov Litzman and Meir Porush have called on
President Shimon Peres to intercede on behalf of the haredi community against
the harsh budgetary edicts, which Litzman termed “the finger of persecution”
that threatens the haredi lifestyle. The two MKs met privately with Peres in his
office before meeting with journalists.
No other sector of society has
been discriminated against to this extent, said Litzman on Thursday, noting that
the budgetary allocation for the renowned Mir Yeshiva is to be slashed by 70
percent. He expressed concern that under such circumstances, the yeshiva would
be unable to continue to exist, much less provide for foreign
The sanctions to which the haredi community will be subjected
were not included in the coalition agreements, but were introduced afterwards,
he said. No matter to what extent haredi spokespeople tried to explain the
disproportionate impact of budgetary cuts on the haredi community, no one was
willing to take notice, he lamented.
Litzman – who was deputy health
minister in the previous government – expressed particular worry about how cuts
in child allotments would affect the nourishment not only of haredi children but
of children in lowincome families throughout the country. “Every child should be
able to receive a cup of leben and a piece of cheese every day,” he said,
emphasizing that his request for the president’s intervention was not of a
political nature but of a humanitarian one.
His plea was echoed by
Porush, who said that haredim comprised 14 percent of the voter turnout in the
last Knesset elections, implying that the haredim had exercised their democratic
right, and should be treated in accordance with the rules of democracy. “This is
not a coalition versus opposition thing,” he said.
“It’s an existential
Porush recalled that Israel’s founding prime minister, David
Ben-Gurion, had told the United Nations that Israel was a homeland for all Jews,
and had treated haredim with dignity and respect.
With its anti-haredi
edicts, the budget defies all previous norms, said Porush. If it is passed and
other impositions are forced on the haredi community, he added, Israel will no
longer be a homeland for all Jews. He entreated Peres to find some way to enable
the haredi community to continue its lifestyle with dignity.
the across-the-board agreement that no child in Israel – secular or religious,
Jewish or Arab – should go hungry. As for haredim joining the work force, the
president made his views very clear. “Whoever doesn’t learn must work,” he
Peres only made passing reference to the issue of military service
for Haredim, but made clear that he did not intend to allow haredim to get off
the hook too lightly. The number of haredim exempt themselves from army service
is far in excess of anything that Ben-Gurion had agreed to, and the system has
been abused, he said.
“I don’t want religious coercion and I don’t want
anti-religious coercion,” said Peres, who undertook to speak to Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid with a view to finding a
After the UTJ MK’s meeting with Peres in his office, Porush
said that they had found a willing ear.
“Peres is a disciple of Ben
Gurion and he respects tradition,” said Porush. “We expected more from the prime
minister after we helped him politically [during the election period], but he
Waiting for the press meeting to start, one of the haredi
journalists present told secular colleagues that they could not even begin to
imagine the amount of community welfare work done by haredi individuals and
When Porush was asked why this was not brought up when
haredim are accused of not sharing the burden, his reply was that “Not
everything has to be political.”