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Hareidim, Secular Students Find Common Ground

Hareidi-religious politicians and secular students from Tel Aviv have found common ground in the housing crisis.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 7/17/2011, 10:52 PM / Last Update: 7/18/2011, 5:12 AM

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For all their differences, the hareidi-religious community and secular university students from Tel Aviv have found common ground, in their protest of soaring housing prices. MK Rabbi Yisrael Eichler of the hareidi United Torah Judaism party expressed satisfaction at the student housing protest this week, and said it gives him new hope for the struggle's success.

The hareidi community has long voiced the same concerns that are bringing students to the streets, Eichler said. “Hareidi Judaism has cried out for years over the housing shortage, but its coalition partners have been deaf to the cries of parents and children,” he said.

“Maybe now that leftist activists in Tel Aviv are bringing the youth to the streets of Tel Aviv, the government will need to take action, beyond steps in the Galilee and Negev,” he added.   

Rabbi Eichler compared the situation to a parable in the Talmud. A village girl's pail fell into the well, but nobody stopped to help her. However, when the princess' golden pail fell into the well, everyone came to help retrieve both pails.

Now that the “royalty” is crying for help, perhaps a solution will be found for everyone, he said.

Eichler has proposed a change in approach to building in Israel that he says could tilt the balance in favor of everyday citizens. Instead of companies competing for government land by each attempting to offer a higher price, they should compete in terms of who can build more quality homes, or build more quickly, he argues.

When companies compete to see who can pay more for land while still making a profit, an unequal relationship is formed between the builders and those who need housing, he explained. The system itself is to blame for the high prices of land and housing, said Eichler.