'State-funded institutions should be inspected'

MK Gafni: Yeshiva inspections should only continue if other state-funded institutions also put under scrutiny.

MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Following recent reports that the Finance Ministry has suspended inspections of state-funded yeshivot, MK Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) insisted that he was in favor of such inspections, as long as other state-funded institutions are also put under similar scrutiny.
Procedures for ensuring the number of students declared by state-funded yeshiva high schools and kollels (yeshivot for married students) correlates with the actual number of students in attendance were made more stringent early in 2011. This followed the exposure of a number of incidents in which some 37 yeshivot were found to have falsely inflated their student numbers in order to receive more state funds.
The stricter procedures included requiring students to always carry their ID cards and locking the doors of the yeshiva when the inspection was under way. In some cases, people who were not students were called to the yeshiva with false ID cards when inspections began to fill in the discrepancy between those registered and those in attendance.
On Tuesday, Haaretz reported that inspections have not been restarted since they were suspended in June. The suspension was initiated following an incident at Beit Shmaya yeshiva in Bnei Brak, when inspectors interrupted a lesson being given by the head of the yeshiva, which sparked outrage from haredi MKs.
Following the incident, a number of haredi lawmakers, including Gafni, demanded that guidelines be drawn up to prevent such incidents from occurring.
A spokesman for Gafni told The Jerusalem Post that the legislator “wants inspections and demands inspections, but they shouldn’t just be for the yeshivot. It is degrading that only yeshivot should be examined in this way. How does the state know that when it funds institutions like [the national theater] Habimah, that the money gets to the right people? “As long as the inspections are carried out in an equal way and in a respectful way then there is no problem,” his spokesman added.
The Finance Ministry said that new inspection guidelines were being drafted to increase their effectiveness and to avoid interrupting the yeshivot.
Following the imposition of the stricter inspection procedures, the number of registered students receiving state stipends declined by 6.5 percent.
Shahar Ilan, vice president for the Hiddush religious equality lobbying group, called for the inspections to be renewed immediately.
“United Torah Judaism is battling for the right of numerous yeshivot to steal from the state,” he said. “Instead of the haredi leadership coming out against this terrible phenomenon of yeshivot falsely reporting the number of their students and taking money from the state through deceit, it is doing everything to enable the that this practice continues without hindrance.
“The inspections must be restarted immediately to ensure that they will and have to be carried out in the most efficient manner.”