Israel's Prime Minister, a former mayor of Jerusalem who has much experience dealing with the educational system as a whole and the haredi system specifically, spoke out against haredi educators and administrators in the Knesset today. According to Ynet, this is what he said:
The prime minister spared no punches for haredi education in particular. Addressing MK Yakov Litzman of United Torah Judaism, Olmert stated:” I will tell you what I had told your colleagues before…. If you (haredim) were allowed to run the haredi education system you would destroy it, because you would only hurt one another.”
Olmert furthermore noted: “The haredi children in Jerusalem had always thanked me for managing their education and said that they were lucky that I was not haredi. Only a secular Jew can manage Haredi education with any semblance of integrity.”
Rabbi Litzman's responded this way:
"There is no way that they're going to meddle with our education (system) and force us to insert the 'core issues.
"For almost 60 years we've been handling our own affairs. Suddenly, they want to get involved? We don't have drugs and violence in our schools. Finally, there is a good education system in this country and now they want to destroy this as well?"
First of all, haredim expel children who misbehave, use drugs or don't fit in. Secular schools cannot do so until the student has been caught violating the law and is found to be a danger to other students. Haredi society has a large and growing body of children who wander the streets because no haredi school will admit them or because they were expelled from the school they were in. To claim haredi schools are superior with regard to drug use and crime is farcical. And, because haredi leaders refuse to cooperate with studies, there is no statistical evidence to prove Rabbi Litzman's point.
Secondly, the core curriculum mandated by the government has been illegally rejected by haredi leaders who fear their students learning math, basic science, civics and history, in part because students who study and pass these subjects have a much easier time leaving haredism if they so choose. For its part, Israel needs these students to be literate and learned enough to work in the modern world.
A few months ago, Rabbi Litzman's colleague in the Knesset, Rabbi Cohen, also a Ger hasid and a member of UTJ, called the government official tasked with enforcing the study of the core curriculum a "Nazi." The exchange went like this:
Litzman accused the attorney of "being worse than the Germans, because the Germans only wanted to destroy our bodies while you want to destroy our souls!" The attorney tells Litzman to shut up "or I'll slap you!" Apparently taunting, Litzman says "I'm waiting!" The attorney, a son of Holocaust survivors, slapped Rabbi Litzman. (See these posts for the details: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7.)
A point I made then is that haredim have no understanding of civics and the democratic process and no respect for government of any kind.
The point Prime Minister Olmert made today is the same. He argues that without government supervision haredim would tear each other apart fighting over money.
You might recognize this argument – it was first made by Rabbi Hanina, the Segan Kohen Gadol, in Pirke Avot 3:2.