Off the Knesset floor, it is the education issue that upsets Ashkenazi haredi MK Rabbi Meir Porush more than any other. He said the attempt to impose basic math, English and science education on haredi students is a fundamental breach of the democracy that secular Israelis claim to hold as their highest ideal and also of an explicit deal made between Orthodox leaders and David Ben-Gurion in 1948.
The Jerusalem Report reports:
…Off the Knesset floor, it is the education issue that rankles [Ashkenazi haredi Member of Knesset Rabbi Meir] Porush more than any other. More than any other current point of disagreement, he said the attempt to impose basic math, English and science education on Orthodox students is a fundamental breach, not only of the democracy that secular Israelis claim to hold as their highest ideal but also of an explicit deal made between Orthodox leaders and David Ben-Gurion in 1948.
“Our rabbis agreed not to oppose the Declaration of Independence, but they demanded a minimum commitment from the state in return. Part of that minimum was the right for every parent to educate his children according to his beliefs. It never occurred to anybody that if a Haredi family wants to educate their kids in the way they believe is correct, the state would come along to say, ‘No funding for you.’ It is a basic, basic breach of that understanding and of basic democracy.”
The Jerusalem Report: But the current Haredi education system is educating students toward poverty. Israeli taxpayers are the ones who will have to bear the fiscal burden of that education in future welfare programs.
MK Porush: But that’s my right. Twenty years from now, we’ll be a majority here. When that happens, what would you say if we tried to pass a law requiring students to pray three times a day and to learn a page of Talmud every day. Would you consider that democratic or would you say it is religious coercion? The folks who are telling me today that I’m educating my kids for poverty will come along then and tell me that my law to force people to pray three times a day is antidemocratic. The demands being made of us today are against our beliefs.
TJR: That’s the part I don’t get. What part of Israel’s core education requirement goes against your beliefs? Math?
MK Porush: The fact that they are telling us what to do is what goes against our beliefs. Our kids study exactly the way our rabbis told us to do 100 years ago. The principle at work here is our absolutely, inviolate right to make decisions for and about our community without outside interference. The Vizhnitzer Rebbe once said that even if the civil authorities told us to study (the Talmudic) tractate Baba Kama, and we were studying tractate Baba Metzia, we would say no. They mustn’t get involved with us.
Furthermore, who the hell are you to level accusations against Haredi schools? You want to talk about core subjects? How about let’s talk about crime. Where is there more violence in school – in yeshivot, or in secular schools? Clearly, secular schools are more violent, by far. So how do they have the chutzpah to make demands of our schools to become more like theirs? I don’t claim that everything in our camp is great, but we are certainly doing a whole lot better than the secular schools. So I’d make a simple suggestion for Mr Lapid and the rest of the “education reform” crowd. Stay out of our schools. How dare they tell us what to do?…