Shas getting payoff for its school system, says NGO

Interior Ministry: Millions allocated in bill aren’t meant just for haredi institutions.

jewish school boy pupil 248 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
jewish school boy pupil 248
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A clause in the economic arrangements bill for 2011- 2012 reinstating the allocation of millions of shekels to large educational campuses is being tabbed by a pro-religious- freedom group as a payoff to Shas’s haredi electorate.
According to the Hiddush Organization for Equality and Freedom, the NIS 30 million recently approved by the government to be distributed by the Interior Ministry to educational campuses over three years is primarily intended for large haredi and religious institutions.
Such a clause would have to be approved by the Knesset.
Hiddush also noted in a recent announcement that the Education and Welfare and Social Services ministries already support yeshivot.
A 2001 state comptroller’s report exposed irregularities in the educational campuses’ budget distribution, which began in the 1990s. According to the report, the Interior Ministry concealed the criteria behind the funds’ allocation, to prevent secular institutions from receiving that money, the Hiddush announcement noted. That budget was eventually cancelled following the enforcement of regulations preventing support of institutions by more than one ministry.
The current sum of NIS 10 million per annum represents a decrease compared to the NIS 12.5m. of that budget in the late ’90s.
Hiddush CEO Rabbi Uri Regev slammed “the cynicism of the Netanyahu- Steinitz government and their willingness to sell the public treasury to the haredi parties. This government exempts yeshiva students from military service as if to help them enter the workforce, but at the same time it creates a new yeshiva budget that will worsen haredi evasion from military service and the labor force.”
The budget is intended for large educational institutions that provide services to students who live on campus.
The funding would reach the institutions and their managements, not the students.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai’s media adviser Ro’i Lachmanovitch firmly denied that the monies were intended solely for haredi institutions.
“The funds will go to any institution that fits the criteria,” he told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, citing secular agricultural schools such as Kaduri and Mikve Israel as potential examples.