MK Moshe Gafni
MK Moshe Gafni Israel news photo: Flash 90

Hareidi knesset member MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) over the weekend railed against institutions that teach Torah – because they are associated with the Religious Zionist movement. In a letter to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, Gafni demanded an investigation into what he said was discrimination by the state against hareidi yeshivas – because they received less funding than yeshivas identified with the Religious Zionist community.

The discrimination ran the gamut of funding for these institutions, from budget allocations for administrators to stipends provided to full-time students. As an example, Gafni pointed to a revised schedule of payments to students, effective November 1. Single students in a hareidi-oriented yeshiva were granted NIS 240 a month, while married students received NIS 432 a month. A student in a Religious Zionist yeshiva that is listed by the state as one that encourages students to join the IDF receives NIS 864 a month.

In addition, he said, Religious Zionist yeshivas received much more administrative per student. While yeshivas in both communities received NIS 672 per student, additional grants brought the total per student in Religious Zionist yeshivas up to NIS 1,212 per month, per student. According to Gafni, the Religious Zionist yeshivas are receiving that extra money illegally.

Even worse, according to Gafni, the Religious Zionist yeshivas were receiving extra money for their students, even though they were essentially operating in the same manner as hareidi yeshivas. Gafni said that the Religious Zionist yeshivas were receiving even more administrative payments per student for the entire five year period that students were enrolled, even though students only actually served in the IDF for sixteen months (after which they are enrolled into the army reserves).

With this payment, he said, Religious Zionist yeshivas were receiving a total of NIS 1,650 per student each month, almost three times the amount hareidi yeshivas received in administrative payments – even though students in the Religious Zionist yeshivas were not in the army most of the time.

“These payments were made for political purposes only, and were designed specifically to benefit institutions associated with the Jewish Home party,” Gafni wrote in his letter to Weinstein. On Gafni's request, the Knesset Oversight Committee will examine the matter later this week.

In a statement, the Education Ministry said that it was following the rules on expenditures as laid out by the Knesset and the government in the state budget.