Israel's High Court Cuts Off Haredi Yeshiva Students Stipends And Welfare Benefits Over Draft Dodging
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Israel’s High Court of Justice issued a conditional injunction today stopping the Government of Israel from paying benefit packages to the approximately 54,000 haredi yeshiva students whose draft exemptions were ruled illegal by the High Court eleven months ago, Israel HaYom reported.
But rather than strike down that law, known as the Tal Law, immediately, the court allowed it to expire August 1 to give the government time to draft a law to replace it.
The government failed – many think intentionally – at this task and attempted to leave the illegal status quo in place.
The court’s injunction mandates that the government explain why the benefits were not suspended after the Tal Law expired almost six months ago.
The government will also have to explain why the government changed the criteria for receiving these benefits packages so that yeshiva students who received them in the past as well as new yeshiva students could get them.
The injunction was issued in response to a petition submitted to the court by the religious freedom and democracy organization Hiddush, the Israeli Forum for Citizen Equal Rights and Obligations, Israel Hofshit (Free Israel), and former MK Ronnie Barizon.
That petition argued that because haredi yeshiva students are no longer exempt from military service, benefit packages they receive from the government after evading mandatory military service should not be legal.
The average benefits package for a 28-year-old married yeshiva student is $14,400 annually according to a report by Hiddush, which calculated the various benefits – including some that were hidden from public view.
"The question is not whether the yeshiva students can study Torah or not – it is whether they should be given support to do so. If the military deferment is done according to the law then there is nothing to prevent giving benefits packages. But if the deferment is not kosher then no benefit package should be given,” Supreme Court Justice Miriam Maor noted.
Hiddush asked the High Court to "set an immediate date to hold discussions because the state transfers 30 million shekels (about $8 million) each month to yeshivas against the law, and there is no way that these gigantic sums will ever be returned."