The Knesset Channel staged a mini debate earlier this week between MK Rabbi Dov Lipman from the Yesh Atid Party and MK Nissim Ze’ev from the Sefardi haredi Shas Party.
Last week, the chairman of Shas, Aryeh Deri, was accused by Yesh Atid’s head, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, of lying about the basis for Lapid’s announcement that budget cuts to haredi schools that do not teach the country’s core curriculum would be delayed by six months.
Deri made it appear as if he had negotiated with Lapid and convinced him to drop the budget cuts permanently, when the truth allegedly is that the Finance Ministry’s legal counsel says that it is illegal to cut the funding to haredi schools until the government has set up an alternative school system to teach the students in the defunded haredi schools in case those schools close due to lack of funding.
On the Knesset Channel, Lipman and Ze’ev fought a proxy battle for the two party leaders.
Yeshiva World has an abridged blow-by-blow account of what took place. What follows is that blow-by-blow account with the grammar cleaned up and other stylistic changes made for clarity. Material within square brackets is my own:
Lipman opened by calling Deri a liar and accusing him of using sensationalist tactics to build his image. Lipman also emphasized the benefits of students learning secular subjects that will allow them to find jobs as adults.
Ze’ev responded by advising Lapid [who was not present] on proper conduct for a cabinet minister.
Ze’ev then accused Lipman and Yesh Atid of paternalism.
Lipman responded by citing [horrific] statements about Yesh Atid and Lapid made by Shas’ founder and spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
[This apparently caused Ze’ev to go back to the original issue of secular education in haredi schools.]
Ze’ev: You simply do not understand the level of the schools. He then says that students in the Navat Yisrael Girl’s School are at the same academic level that girls in the state public schools are.
[But Ze’ev was skirting the point, because many haredi girls schools to teach secular subjects. It is the boys schools and the yeshivas that overwhelmingly do not, and Lipman immediately calls Ze’ev out on this.]
Lipman: We know this may be true with the girl’s but what about the boy’s schools? Let’s work together to plan for the future, a number of hours of day must be dedicated for core subjects. In the USA, the most haredi yeshiva has hours of core subjects daily. [This is only true for some haredi yeshivas, primarily non-hasidic yeshivas. Many haredi schools in the US stop teaching secular subjects before high school, and some stop after 3rd grade. Others teach a very abridged version of a few secular subjects late in the school day. Only a few teach a full course load of secular subjects from 1st grade through high school.] This will not disqualify his Torah. Why must this be a battle?
Ze’ev: In conclusion the girl’s are on a higher level!
Lipman: That may be true in the schools that teach secular subjects but what about the others? Why are you so against this? Why must this be a battle?
The two then argue about the merits of Israel’s core curriculum. Ze’ev tells Lipman, “don’t dictate what we will and will not be teaching our students.”
Ze’ev pointed out that most of the haredi gedolim (senior rabbis) did not join last week’s massive protest against the draft of haredi yeshiva students into Israel’s military because they hope a solution [to keep yeshiva students out of the military or civilian national service and in yeshivas full time] can still be achieved through dialogue. But if that does not happen, Ze’ev warned, they may have to join in the anti-government demonstrations.
The moderator: Rabbi Lipman, you are from Beit Shemesh where there is a large Anglo haredi community that values employment and works, and they are no less haredi for doing that. Can you explain this please?
Lipman: Israeli haredim are still from the Old [anti-Zionist, anti-modernity] Yishuv, and they simply do not understand.
[The Old Yishuv, the original Ashkenazi haredi settlers who came to Israel in several very small waves beginning in the late 1700s, survived primarily by living off of donations sent by Jews in Europe. Many did not work or only worked sporadically at odd jobs. Over the several generations between the original settlement and the founding of the state, poverty and not working for a living became virtues, the donations from abroad became entitlements, and the rejection of modernity became a battle cry.]