News from America 5:46 AM 3/9/2014
Jewish World 5:10 AM 3/9/2014
News from America 8:06 AM 3/9/2014
The Tovia Singer Show
Tuvia Brodie has a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh under the name Philip Brodie. He has worked for the University of Pittsburgh, Chatham College and American Express. He and his wife made aliyah in 2010. All of his children have followed. He believes in Israel's right to exist. He believes that the words of Tanach (the Jewish Bible) are meant for us. His blog address is http://tuviainil.blogspot.com He publishes 4-6 times a week on his blog. Please check the blog regularly for new posts.
Before Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travelled to America to meet with US President Barack Obama on March 3, 2014, Israel’s press was filled with reports of doom for the Israeli leader. Israel’s press didn’t see this meeting as a conference between friends. They pictured it as an assault. Netanyahu was travelling 6,000 miles to get mauled by a bully.
Israel’s press had reason to worry. Current US-led peace talks between Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas have not been going well. A March 28th deadline looms. No peace is in sight. With less than a month to go, President Obama has little to show from a massive US effort.
Enter a Netanyahu visit to the US. That visit looked perfect for Obama.
Obama wants action. He wants results. He wants ‘peace’. As you’ll see in a moment, he needs ‘peace’. It doesn’t matter what kind of peace he gets. He just needs a paper to be signed.
As Netanyahu’s arrival approached, Obama sent the Israeli PM a message: Israel had no more choices. Israel could no longer stall (“Obama: US won’t be able to defend Israel if peace talks fail”, Times of Israel, March 2, 2014).
For Israel’s press, the US agenda for this meeting was closer to a fight-card than a meeting. They saw Obama rolling up his sleeves to take the recalcitrant Jew behind the woodshed (“Report: Obama to Press PM to Take Kerry Deal”, Arutz Sheva, February 27, 2014).
Israel’s press saw only pain for Netanyahu (“Sources: PM Could Face 'Tough' Meeting With Obama”, Arutz Sheva, March 2, 2014). Even when Israeli officials said that Iran was their priority for this head-of-state meeting (“US unlikely to unveil peace framework during Netanyahu-Obama meeting next week”, Jerusalem Post, February 27, 2014), the US fired a shot across Israel’s bow (“Report: US Pressures Israel, Stop Killing Iranian Scientists”, Arutz Sheva, March 2, 2014).
Israel couldn’t catch a break from the US. It seemed clear that Netanyahu was going to get mugged.
In the hours leading up to the meeting, The Times of Israel drew up an explosive headline (“For Netanyahu, a bombshell battering by Obama”, March 3, 2014) to report that Obama had said in an interview that he would pressure Netanyahu to sign for ‘peace’. Even the pro-two-state Haaretz characterized this meeting as hostile. Their pre-meeting headline declared, “Obama the inquisitor vs. Netanyahu, Abbas” (February 28, 2014).
But the build-up to this meeting turned into a bust. When Obama and Netanyahu met, nothing much happened. There were no fire-works or verbal fistfights. No angry words were exchanged. No dirty looks were recorded. What happened?
No one really knows.
After all the build-up, Israel’s press (as of March 6th) seemed strangely muted. No one reported much of anything.
Did Israel’s press get it wrong? Was the doom and gloom misplaced?
It might have been. But don’t count on it. There’s too much bad blood between these two men. There’s too much anti-Israel sentiment in the White House and the US State department. There’s also too much at stake for Obama.
Obama needs Netanyahu to surrender land to Abbas. He needs that because his foreign policy needs it. His reputation needs it.
The only person who can help him is Netanyahu.
Obama’s foreign policy hasn’t gotten any traction. Obama has failed with Egypt. He’s failed with Syria. He’s failed with North Korea. His ‘success’ with Iran looks increasingly suspect.
Every US President wants a positive foreign policy legacy. For US Presidents, it’s a must.
For his own foreign policy legacy, Obama doesn’t have much left to work with. Most everyone has rejected him. All he’s got is the Arab-Israel conflict.
In that conflict, he’s got two actors. One, Abbas, is a stubborn ideologue. He won’t move off of square one. But the other actor, Netanyahu, is different. Netanyahu wants to be loved by America.
Netanyahu can be manipulated. He can be played. He can be moved.
That’s what this meeting was about: moving Netanyahu. Israel’s press didn’t get it wrong. If so little is being said by both sides following this meeting, then something happened. Some kind of agreement has been made.
What was it?
This is a story that doesn't end. It is part of the war against Israel. It is about a place you have never heard of.
Qeiyafa (pronounced, key-yafah) is an abandoned hilltop that sits in the Sh'fay-lah, the low rolling hills west of the Judean mountain range in central Israel (that is, between Jerusalem and the Mediterranean coast). On this hilltop sits the ruins of an ancient walled city. This ancient city had been a fortress. It had been built between the years 1060 - 930 BCE, some 2900+ years ago. Today, its ruins lie about 40 minutes by car Southwest of Jerusalem, near a modern city called Beit Shemesh.
This fortified outpost attracts our attention because of the story it tells. It is a story of the enemies of Israel--both ancient and modern.
Perhaps 3,300 years ago, the ancient Philistines came to this land, Canaan, from the sea; according to many archaeologists, they came from somewhere in the Greek Isles. They came from the West at about the same time Joshua and the Israelites were arriving from the East.
After conquering a coastal portion of Canaan (modern Gaza and Israel’s Ashkelon and Ashdod), the Philistines opposed Israel for perhaps 200 years--until David defeated them. They were a constant threat. Israel had to worry about Philistine armies marching across these low rolling hills towards Jerusalem. Israel needed a fort to here to protect Israel's 'backside' from Philistine armies.
The fortress at Qeiyafah is important not only because it reveals ancient Jewish life, but also because it speaks to modern Israel.
In Israel, the connection between ancient and modern seems never to be far away. Indeed, in this case, Qeiyafa has a particularly modern connection.
About 25 years ago, an archaeologist published a report summarizing a point of view that, so far as archaeological findings went, there was little evidence to suggest that King David and his son Solomon ever existed. This opinion reflected the findings of a 'school' of archaeologists called, 'Minimalists'. These archaeologists argued that the Bible did not contain trustworthy fact. They claimed that if you want a true history of Israel, the only primary unbiased source was the archaeologist—and their position was, David and Solomon never lived.
These archaeologists took this position because, they said, they could find no compelling evidence of construction that is typical of a strong, organized and powerful national government older than 850 BCE. Their scholarship led to one conclusion: the reign of David and Solomon (app 1,000 BCE) never happened.
Their claim amounted to proving a negative: zero discoveries meant David and Solomon never lived. This seemed an extreme conclusion, however, because archaeology has seen other ‘zero discovery’ scenarios--with no impact on the accepted story. William the Conqueror is an example of this: William is said to have conquered England in 1066 CE; but (I have been told), there is little evidence found (at least, as of 1999) to prove that story--no battlefield sites, no debris, no destruction, no broken walls; and yet, no one doubted the story of William the Conqueror.
Why is Israel different? Unlike England, Israel appears to be a magnet for deniers. Israel attracts people intent upon separating Jews from their land and Heritage: the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Romans, the Crusaders, the Muslims and an assortment of modern politicians, historians and, possibly, archaeologists.
The archaeologists of this story are intriguing. Even when evidence began to surface that David and Solomon might indeed have existed, these scholars refused to yield: although forced to grant that David might actually have lived, they changed their claim to argue a slightly different case: there was still no evidence that David and Solomon were national leaders; if they did exist, they said, these Jewish kings were nothing more than tribal chieftains; Biblical stories that they had unified Israel were just fictions.
The Minimalists refused to let go of the ‘narrative’ they had written about David and Solomon. Whatever dig-sites revealed, these two kings had no significant value.
Then, beginning with 2003/4, a dig site near the modern city of Beit Shemesh, called, Tel Beit Shemesh, created a problem: the contents of the Tel Beit Shemesh site were dated by some to have been from the time of David and Solomon, app 950 BCE. This site presented a special problem to Minimalists because archaeologists at the dig-site uncovered a very large cistern for water collection which was too big and too well constructed to have been built by local tribesmen. I have walked down into that cistern; it is very large, and even a tourist can appreciate how expertly it had been chiselled and 'prepared' out of the bedrock. This cistern appears indeed to have been constructed by a large group of people who had professional expertise and quality equipment--exactly the kind of evidence you would expect to find in a project built by a large, organized, well-funded and well-run centralized national government.
The Minimalists agreed that this was an impressive project. They could not deny that. But they insisted that it proved nothing. They rejected the Solomonic dating. They claimed it was from Ahab's period-- 850 BCE--100 years later than Solomon.
The Minimalists refused to accept any possibility that David and Solomon could have existed.
There were other finds that suggested the existence of David/Solomon. Each time, the Minimalists repeated their story: the period 850BCE was the most accurate dating, not 1,000 BCE.
Why? Because they said so.
This unyielding insistence in the face of accumulating evidence seems suspicious. It suggests the possibility of an unscholarly preference for –and perhaps support of--Leftist and Arabist arguments that Israel’s Jewish narrative was a lie. If William the Conqueror in England could be a hero with few archaeological finds, why should David and Solomon remain fiction even as evidence mounted in their favour?
This Minimalist insistence against David/Solomon is important. It is not just an archaeological preference. It's not just for scholarly journals and graduate classes. It has extraordinary political consequences for Israel.
If you argue that David and Solomon never existed, then two things happen: (1), the Bible becomes fiction; and (2) if the Bible is fiction--creating men who never existed--then a centralized Jewish religion in Israel might never have existed, either. David and Solomon are at the core of the Jewish belief that G-d rested his presence in Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem—and, so resting, helped to unify a strong and vibrant Jewish nation around that Temple.
Arabs have been saying for years that there is no evidence of Jews on the Temple Mount. They have even worked illegally to remove 12,000 - 15,000 tons of debris from the Temple Mount to support that argument. They know that without David and Solomon, there is no unified, powerful Jewish Kingdom in Israel circa 1,000BCE. Without that powerful Kingdom, there could be no Temple.
With no Temple, there is no Jewish narrative. Therefore, if the Bible is fiction, the Temple is a fiction--and Jewish presence in ancient Israel is a fiction--just as the Arabs have been arguing.
The Minimalist gives to the Arab an archaeology he can love. It is an archaeology that supports the Arab war against Israel.
But now, there is Qeiyafah. Qeiyafah changes everything.
At first glance, Qeiyafa is just another ancient walled city. Its construction suggests a centralized and organized government sending out people to the outskirts of a territory. It is like other finds. The Minimalist acknowledges this similarity. But, as with the cistern above, the Minimalist has always insisted that these sites date to at least 100 years after David/Solomon ruled.
Then, in 2007/8, the archaeologist in charge of digging at Qeiyafa found perhaps a dozen olive pits. This was a game-changing discovery. Why? Because olive pits are organic. Organic matter can be carbon-dated.
Some of these olive pits were sent to Oxford University--which has perhaps the world's most sophisticated carbon dating equipment. The Oxford tests suggested that these olive pits were eaten and spat out between the years 1060-930 BCE--exactly the moment of David/Solomon.
Suddenly, the Minimalists faced clear scientific evidence that the Qeiyafah site existed during a period they had aggressively denied. Moreover, these olive pits not only dated Qeiyafah, they dated other, similar sites.
To an archaeologist, similarities between two or more dig-sites have meaning. Similarities between large structures are not random or accidental. If an archaeologist dates any one of similar structures to a specific date, then he will date all the others to that same date. It's how archaeology works. It's one of their protocols.
If all these identical forts could now be dated through the age of these olive pits, then a very compelling case could be made that these structures had been built during a David/Solomon period. The structures are massive enough and numerous enough to have required a centralized national government that had the money, men, training, equipment, fort-building designs and organizational skill to build with.
The Minimalists have not yet fully digested these olive pits.
Do these olive pits end the claim that David and Solomon never existed, or if they did exist, were no more than tribesmen? Probably not: carbon dating is not perfect. It can be questioned. The olive pits might be questioned. The archaeologist who found them might be questioned (his archaeological experience is not the Davidic period; his experience--12 books, 100+ articles-- is pre-Davidic). But from this point forward, those who refuse to believe that the Bible could indeed be correct regarding David and Solomon are going to have to work extremely hard to justify their denial.
Will they continue to deny?
The war against Israel continues.
(Note: I am neither historian nor archaeologist. You will have to search on your own to confirm this story. If you find any errors here, let me know. Click on the 'Comment' icon below and write to me....I wish to thank licensed tour guide Ezra Rosenfeld (www.tanachtiyulim.com) for showing me the land of Israel with Tanach in hand.)
Amnesty International (AI) is supposed to be a respectable Human Rights Organization. But when it comes to Israel, its respectability evaporates. With Israel, its work is closer to libel than objective analysis.
AI accuses Israel of gross moral misconduct. But as it stands on its moral soap box to demonize Israel, it ignores the immorality of Israel’s opponent.
That’s a double standard. Double standards always create the same result: one side gets a free pass; the other side gets demonized.
Human Rights are about morality. They promote a single universal moral code. A double standard is, by definition, not singular.
The most recent example of AI’s double standard is a new Report, “Trigger-happy Israeli army and police use reckless force in the West Bank”, dated, February 27, 2014. It accuses Israel of shooting ‘Palestinians’ during what it suggests are ‘peaceful assembly’.
The Report is not accurate. It misrepresents facts. It distorts ‘Palestinian’ behaviour. It underestimates what is ‘dangerous’. It uses inflammatory language. It perverts morality.
It does all of this because Human Rights law has been ‘refined’. As a consequence of that ‘refinement’, it becomes immoral for a sovereign state to defend itself against 15 year-old stone-throwers.
According to AI, Israel’s army will almost always have to yield to stone-throwers—because of Human Rights requirements. That means that if the Arabs want to drive Israel out of the Middle East, all they need do is send 13-15 year olds to throw stones at Jews. When security forces show up to stop them, Israeli hands will be tied.
You see, according to AI, Human Rights law is clear: security forces have no right to use force to stop stone-throwers.
This is how Human Rights work against Israel: security forces can harm stone-throwers only when stones become an ‘imminent risk to life’. However, stones are never an ‘imminent risk to life’.
Then, security forces are never allowed to attack ‘peaceful assemblies.’ ‘Palestinian’ stone-throwers are a ‘peaceful assembly’.
Checkmate, Israel. Your hands are tied. You lose.
AI lays out this argument indirectly. It’s an inference—but it is clear. Its Report criticizes Israeli ‘trigger-happy’ behaviour towards ‘Palestinians’ and concludes that Israel must absolutely respect the right of ‘Palestinians’ to peacefully assemble’. The inference is that ‘peaceful assembly’ is what ‘Palestinians’ were doing when Israeli soldiers fired at them.
In Israel, that is rarely—if ever—the case.
Human Rights law attempts to bring morality to the international arena. But that arena is messy. Sometimes, one side doesn’t believe in Human Rights. Nevertheless, Rights advocates attempt to establish a universal moral code to apply to everyone.
Moral codes are always noble. Even Judaism promotes a Universal moral code.
The difference is, Jewish law does not allow for applying that code only to one party in a dispute. That, Jewish law says, perverts morality.
Look up ‘Human Rights’. The concept is related to ‘moral principles’ and the desire for a ‘moral doctrine’. The problem is, when one participant in a fight rejects human rights and its underlying morality, human rights law still demands that the other participant must remain moral.
This requirement creates an impossibility. For example, a moral, rules-following Olympic wrestler will never win a match if his opponent breaks the rules with impunity--and punches him repeatedly in the face.
In an uneven ‘morality’ match, the human rights advantage goes to the immoral opponent.
Allowing that to happen is immoral. Requiring that it occur is a perversion of morality.
Despite AI’s accusations, Israel works hard to maintain an ethical stance in its war against an unethical opponent. We know that opponent is unethical because he (and the stone-thrower) targets civilians, uses human shields and bases his behaviour (and stone-throwing) on hate—and on the desire to destroy the Jewish state.
Human rights advocates who demonize Israel forget that hate and destruction are not a part of morality. They are never part of ‘human rights.’ They are the enemies of morality and human rights.
Look at Arab cultures. They do not support Human Rights. They reject Western—and Jewish—morality. Instead, they promote hate of--and racist attitudes towards—Jews. Neither of these is moral or humane.
Human Rights activists—including AI—ignore this underlying immorality and inhumanity. They prefer to hold Israel to the highest moral standard. They prefer to give stone throwers a ‘moral holiday’.
According to the way Human Rights law is written, those Arab boys throwing stones can destroy whatever they please. They are, by definition, ‘peaceful’.
That’s a perversion of the word, ‘peaceful’.
Stone-throwers against Israel do not seek Western-style freedom. They do not seek Western or Jewish morality. They seek destruction. They are motivated by hate.
Human Rights advocates like AI overlook that hate. They ignore that desire to destroy.
But, by protecting these boys, AI supports hate and destruction. It protects those who would destroy all that is moral. It perverts morality.
Whenever Arabs in the Palestinian Authority (PA) accuse Israel of ‘killing the peace process’, Leftist politicians in Israel recoil in fear. For example, MK Amram Mitzna (Hatnua) has warned that if negotiations with the PA fail, Israel will be in trouble. Israel’s chief peace negotiator, Leftist Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) has repeatedly expressed her fear that Israel cannot allow these talks to fail because Israel’s legitimacy is under attack. Yitzchak Herzog (Labor) says he will work to ensure that any peace plan US Secretary of State John Kerry presents will be accepted by Israel—no matter what that plan says (“Herzog: Opposition Will Vote With Govt. On PA Deal”, Arutz Sheva, January 6, 2014).
Now, Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri (Yesh Atid) wants 25% of Judea-Samaria Jews—perhaps 100,000 people—to be transferred for peace. He acknowledges that it would be painful to evict these Jews in order to create a Palestinian state. But the evictions, he says, must be done. If we don’t evict, “The negotiations with the Palestinians will fail, and the crisis with the Americans will deepen.” The result, he fears, could be a third intifada.
The Leftist mantra is simple: peace now or perish.
Leftist peace is built upon the belief that Judea-Samaria is Arab land. Leftists believe the Arab narrative that Jews are European usurpers who have come to colonize the Arab. Leftists believe whatever the Arab says against Israel.
Israel’s Left believes that Israel must give to the Arab what the Arab wants. Otherwise, it argues, Israel will collapse.
This week (starting today, February 24, 2014), German chancellor Angela Merkel and nearly her entire Cabinet arrive in Israel for talks and business sessions—and Israel’s Left fears the pressure German leaders will put on Israel. As these talks unfold, we will see Israel’s Left urge Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu to ‘make the tough decision’ and surrender land for ‘peace’.
It’s what the Arab wants. It’s what Germany wants (“German FM calls on Israel to make tough decisions”, Times of Israel, February 24, 2014). It’s what Israel’s Left wants.
But is this what Israel’s Prime Minister should do?
As Germany’s leaders arrive with their call to surrender land for peace, Israel’s Prime Minister should forget about surrendering. He should forget Israel’s Left. Instead, he should remember Israel’s first Prime Minister, David ben Gurion.
According to an essay by Yoram Ettinger in LPH Magazine (“Ben Gurion’s Legacy,” January 4, 2014), Ben Gurion faced threats startlingly similar to those we face today—and his decisions in the face of those threats are instructive indeed.
Citing the book, My Mission in Israel, 1948-1951, by James McDonald (Simon and Schuster, 1951), Ettinger writes that in May, 1949, the US Ambassador to Israel (McDonald) delivered a scolding message to Ben Gurion. US President Harry Truman was not happy. Israel was behaving badly. Israel had annexed West Jerusalem. It had refused to absorb Arab refugees. It was aggressively soliciting a massive Jewish ingathering.
Israel’s behaviour was dangerous to peace, McDonald suggested. Israel was disregarding UN Resolutions passed in 1948 and 1949. Israel was refusing to offer the Arabs tangible refugee concessions.
Israel could lose America’s ‘friendship’ if it continued with such intransigence.
Sound familiar? This is exactly how Israel’s Left speaks today.
But Ben Gurion did not respond to this threat the way today’s Leftists respond—with fear. He told Truman that his (Truman’s) message was unrealistic. The US position, Ben Gurion said, ignored the fact that the original UN partition plan was no longer applicable because Arab aggression had destroyed it.
Ben Gurion then declared, ‘we will not commit suicide.’
When two UN Resolutions threatened sanctions for ‘occupying the Negev’—Resolutions supported by the US—Ben Gurion was not compliant. He did not react the way today’s Leftists react.
He was not afraid. He was defiant. He said, Israel had been attacked by six Arab countries. Israel reserves the right of self-defense. What Israel has won on the battlefield, he was quoted as saying, it would not yield at the UN.
Mr Netanyahu, forget Israel's Left. Remember Ben Gurion.
Earlier, before Israel had declared its independence, Ben Gurion had received another threat, this time from US General George Marshall—World War Two super-hero and now Secretary of State to the post WWII Truman. Marshall had been adamantly against any US recognition of Israel. According to Ettinger, Marshall had sent Ben Gurion ‘a brutal ultimatum’: Israel was not to declare its independence. Israel must accept a UN Trusteeship. If Israel declared independence, America would join Britain in an arms embargo against Israel (which it did)—even as Britain supplied arms to the Arabs. Marshall threatened that if an Israeli declaration of independence triggered war, the US would not provide any assistance to Israel. Israel would be doomed
Today, Israel’s Left fears that if Israel does not comply with EU, US and PA demands, it is doomed. But the doom of 1949 was starkly different: Arabs had well-equipped armies. These armies were both British-trained and, often, British-led. Israel had virtually nothing. It lacked guns, ammunition and training. An embargo and a US refusal to help would be devastating.
Nevertheless, Ben Gurion did not submit to Marshall’s demands. He did not believe he had to yield because ‘he had no other choice’.
Today, Leftist Tzipi Livni does not remember Ben Gurion. Today, Livni says Israel has no other choice put to yield to Arab demands.
Ben Gurion was not Tzipi Livni. He told Marshall that, much as Israel desired friendship with the US, there were limits beyond which he could not go. He told the US that the US would be gravely mistaken if it assumed that threats or UN sanctions could force Israel to yield on issues it considered vital to independence and security.
Mr Netanyahu, forget Israel’s Left. Remember David Ben Gurion.
Ettinger reminds us in his essay that, in 1949, Israel was a small, struggling country, with 650,000 Jews, a one billion USD GDP and a very slim military force. Today, Israel is a very different nation. It has 6,000,000 Jews, a 260 USD billion GDP and one of the world’s finest military forces.
Today, we face threats similar to those Ben Gurion faced. But Leftists quake in their boots when other nations express exasperation with and hate towards Israel for not surrendering to Arab demands. Leftists forget Ben Gurion.
Mr Netanyahu, forget the Leftists. Remember Ben Gurion.
The subtitle of this essay is, ‘Measure-for-Measure’
Yair Lapid, the Head of Israel’s Yesh Atid political party, is also Israel’s Finance Minister. Since beginning his term as Israel’s premier ‘bean counter’ (March 2013), he has proclaimed his dedication to sound fiscal planning. He will control Israel’s expenses. He will punish welfare cheats. He will reduce Israel’s budget deficit.
He will save Israel.
He starts his path to Glory with those welfare cheats. He has found thousands of them.
In Israel, the accepted way of life for youth is to graduate high school and do army or National Service before getting on with life. Your service-to-country opens doors, benefits, education opportunities and jobs. It is how you live as a young Israeli.
Haredi (the ultra-orthodox) do not live this way. For religious reasons, most Haredi men do not enlist into the IDF (Israel Defense Force) or do National Service (which is similar to America’s VISTA volunteer program).
Haredi study Torah. They dedicate their lives to Torah. They work in ‘Torah study’. They do not work in secular environments.
But they receive government money. Their Yeshivot (schools) receive State funding to teach them Torah. Their families receive benefits for living needs.
That enrages some Israelis. These Israelis do not support Torah study. Many do not even like Tora. They work at ‘normal’ jobs. They pay high taxes. They believe that Haredi men are ‘welfare cheats’. They want the Haredi to forget the Torah (the core of our religion) and go to work.
These Israelis speak harshly of Haredi. Because Haredi choose not to serve or work in the traditional way (and yet receive government assistance), some Israelis call them ‘parasites’.
To financial and accounting experts, there is too much unemployment among Haredi. There is too little income tax paid by Haredi. There are too many benefits paid to Haredi.
But the real challenge in Israel is not how to punish Haredi for being ‘parasites’. It’s how to help Haredi meld their ‘work’ in Torah with traditional work, and how to bring Haredi youth into army/National Service in a way that does not contradict their beliefs.
Several recommendations have been made. Some Haredi programs have begun. Progress has been made. But it is a slow progress.
It’s too slow for those who call Haredi ‘parasites’.
Enter Israel’s newest hero, Yair Lapid. He has a plan. He will use the issue of army/National Service to wean the Haredi from public welfare.
He will use that issue as a sledge hammer. He will use that hammer against the Haredi.
He will use the Haredi to save Israel.
His plan is simple. He will cut off government funds to Yeshivot (religious schools) where service-avoiding Haredi youth attend. He will curtail support payments to families of Haredi who avoid serving. He will seek a prison sentence for every Haredi youth who refuses to serve.
Nobody talks about cutting funds to Universities where a growing number of secular ‘draft-dodgers’ attend. No one talks about support payment cut-off or prison terms for secular youth who defy Service.
But they talk about these things for the Haredi. Lapid has listened to that talk. He has found a solution for that talk.
There’s just one problem. Lapid’s plan won’t work. It doesn’t save money. It costs money.
Think about it. Lapid’s plan is based on coercing Haredi youth into the army. That starts with arresting Haredi ‘draft dodgers’ (you go to prison or the army; you choose).
It costs money to find which Haredi youth to arrest. It costs more money to arrest and process them through the justice system.
Then it costs money to drive them to prison. It costs money to run the prisons. It costs money to repair and maintain the prisons. It costs money to pay court, police, transportation and prison workers.
It will cost money to handle the legal work Haredi lawyers will create by appeals and complaints. It will cost money to deal with Haredi protests around Israel—to pay for police, court, transportation and detention costs generated by Haredi protest arrests.
By the time you add it all up—including State and employer contributions to employee health and pension benefits—the cost-per-Haredi inmate far exceeds the money saved from ending Haredi benefit payments.
This isn’t chump change we’re talking about. Lapid thinks he can save Israel several million NIS. But his plan will cost Israel tens of millions to arrest, process, house and maintain his Haredi prisoners.
Yesterday (February 19, 2014), the Knesset committee tasked with preparing a new draft law (to address the Haredi-army issue) approved criminal sanctions for Hareidim who evade army service. But because this is Israel, that committee vote is not the end of the matter. There will be a re-vote. That re-vote will be 'later.'
Lapid, Israel's new hero, wants these criminal sanctions for Haredi. He has threatened to bring down the government (by bolting the coalition) if he does not get his criminalization. He is now more than half-way to his goal.
If he succeeds, he could be a man of firsts in Israel. He could become the first man in Israel to turn Haredi youth into convicts who, because of their convictions, may not be able to find work—and who will therefore have to receive government benefits for their living needs—for the rest of their lives.
He could also become the first Israeli official to pick Israel’s pocket. He might indeed punish the Haredi. But, as you have just seen, he could also get Israel robbed by that punishment.
Perhaps that’s why the subtitle here is, ‘Measure-for-Measure.’