"…Haredim need to understand what math and the other core subjects are. The issue of [their need to] study Torah is not an excuse to remove haredim from other aspects of society [which is what not knowing math, science, Modern Hebrew and other secular subjects does]…"
Above: Reuven Rivlin
Speaking yesterday at a conference on education and the economy, Israel's president, Reuven "Ruby" Rivlin, lashed out at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party and the Ashkenazi haredi United Torah Judaism Party (UTJ) over the coalition agreement signed between the two yesterday. That agreement gives many special privileges to haredim, some of which appear to be illegal. One of those lets haredim dodge Israel's military draft without penalty. Another frees haredi schools from having to teach math, science, history, Modern Hebrew, English, civics and other secular subjects. It is these two parts of that coalition agreement Rivlin attacked:
…The fact that I’m hearing now that [the issue of teaching] the core curriculum is one of the provisions of the coalition agreement [between Likud and UTJ] seems to me to be a great mistake – first of all, for the haredim [themselves].
The first interest of every educational system should be for the [country’s] core curriculum [to be taught], therefore [teaching the core curriculum] should not be a condition for negotiation. Haredim need to understand what math and the other core subjects are. The issue of [their need to] study Torah is not an excuse to remove haredim from other aspects of society [which is what not knowing math, science, Modern Hebrew and other secular subjects does]…
It is our duty to engage in dialogue with haredi leadership. [But] saying that the Law of Equal Burden [i.e., the new military draft law that drafts haredim into the IDF just like other Jewish Israelis] is the reason [haredim] are afraid is an excuse; [both haredim] and the Arabs [i.e., Arab-Israelis] can certainly do civilian service [if they don’t want to serve in the IDF].
In Israel we live in groups, each of which has its [own] educational system. You cannot impose an education system on those who do not want it. There is no longer a minority in Israel, the educational system of Jerusalem’s haredim and of the Arabs is becoming the majority [due to those communities’ high birthrates]. We have to acknowledge the fact that there are some sectors [of the public, like many haredim and Arab-Israelis] that want to come into our central education system [to get higher degrees or technical training] but don’t know [Modern] Hebrew [because their schools refuse to teach it]. Those are things I think the education minister should be aware of.
Unfortunately, every community in Israel is entrenched in its position and has built walls on the outside. Even the Arab-Israeli conflict has created a reality that insulates people who are afraid to mingle. Haredim and Arabs who do study [at a university or tech school] are unfortunately often not hired [by employers] due to the prejudices against them, and they have this difficulty even in the legal profession. In Israel, most of the economy exists in Hebrew, and a man who has never learned [to properly speak and write] Hebrew will have difficulty entering the economy.…