For Israel and our children’s future, we drew a line in the sand

Politically, because of rapidly changing demographics, we won’t be able to do tomorrow what we put off today.

By ODED FORER
June 12, 2019 20:55
4 minute read.
‘THE CONSCRIPTION bill, which for Yisrael Beytenu was already a compromise on a compromise, was writ

‘THE CONSCRIPTION bill, which for Yisrael Beytenu was already a compromise on a compromise, was written by IDF generals in consultation with rabbis, who understand better than anyone the need to maintain our national security and the safety of our people.’. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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In a few weeks, I, like most working parents of younger children in Israel, will pay thousands of shekels for summer camps. My friends and neighbors down the road in a haredi community will be able to send their children for free. While my children’s camps will usually last from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., which usually means parents scampering around for solutions for the rest of the afternoon, involving greater costs, the haredi summer camps will last from 8 a.m. until 4 or 5 p.m.

That is where the differences end, because the bill for both my children’s camps and my haredi neighbors’ camps will be paid for by me and the millions of other hardworking, taxpaying Israelis.

I have no problem paying taxes so the children of underprivileged families or victims of terrorism will be able to enjoy summer camps for free. This is a natural part of any caring and mutually supportive society.

However, I do mind paying for the children of able-bodied people who choose to not work when they can, do not contribute equally or fairly to the national burden or the defense of our people, and are being kept in a cycle of poverty by their political leaders, who continue to try to extort more and more funds from the national purse.

I RAISE this issue because it is sadly one small example of an emblematic problem we have in this country which it seems will not be dealt with until we reach the point of unsustainability.

A cursory look at the dozens of coalition demands made by the haredi political leadership would be ample enough to demonstrate that the countless billions of shekels they demand to cover all aspects of their lives are paid for by the overwhelming majority of Israelis, whether secular, traditional or National-Religious.

This is simply unsustainable because as this community continues to grow in proportion to the rest of the population, the financial demands will grow likewise, whereas the amount of those contributing, working and paying taxes proportionally will shrink.

This means that in a generation of two, when our children and grandchildren go out to serve their country in military or national service, or go out to the workforce to make a living, their burden will be far graver.

THERE ARE those who claim that we do not need the haredim in the army. However, the conscription bill, which for Yisrael Beytenu was already a compromise on a compromise, was written by IDF generals in consultation with rabbis, who understand better than anyone the need to maintain our national security and the safety of our people.

Some declare that you can’t force a community against its religious conviction, but to those who claim to follow the Torah I would merely quote Moses, who in the Bible said to those who tried to find excuses not to fight for the Land of Israel “Shall your brothers go to the war while you sit here?” I will merely quote the Mishna in Sota which explains that all of Israel must go out to battle, even a bride and groom from their wedding.

Others argue that this bill would have made little difference and it was all semantics. If this were true, then they would need to explain and justify why the haredi political leaders went to such lengths to bury the bill and to fight it with every breath.


They know that this proposed law was a line drawn in the sand. The mere idea that they would finally, by law, have to agree to contribute, even in smaller fractions, to the national burden was for them a step too far.

They could not have a hand in a law that breaks their control over their populations, a law that would have necessitated a political compromise for the first time in their history.

They knew that the non-haredi world had capitulated and compromised time and again, and they knew that if they waited enough time without even negotiating, the same would happen again, and they would retain their political strength.

They just didn’t count on a party, for the first time in history, to stand up and draw its own line in the sand.

In a few weeks I will be sending my children off to summer camps, but in a few years I will be sending them off to the army. I know that this could place them in danger, but I know that with the education we have given them, they will not only understand what it means to sacrifice to maintain Jewish sovereignty in our ancestral and indigenous homeland, but will be eager to contribute and do their part.

However, I would not be able to look them in the eye if I wasn’t able to try my best to ensure that their sacrifice will be equally shared by all Israelis, regardless of background. I can’t bear the thought of a future whereby my children and the precious children of the overwhelming majority of Israelis, whether secular, traditional, National-Religious or haredi, will not be able to make a living under the sheer weight of a growing and unsustainable tax burden.

Politically, because of rapidly changing demographics, we won’t be able to do tomorrow what we put off today.

We drew this line in the sand not because of political positions, but because it is a time where the principles and values of Zionism and equality before the law, in the national burden and financial contributions, must be fought for and maintained at all cost – for our children’s future and the continued flourishing of the State of Israel.

The writer is a member of Knesset for the Yisrael Beytenu Party.

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