Friday, April 26, 2013

Culture War in Israel Targets Ultra-Orthodox Jews


Turns out it is not some ex nihilo "culture war", but in reality our old friend austerity that is fomenting a war of sorts now currently in Israel.

From the AP:
A cultural war has erupted between Israel's rising political star and his ultra-Orthodox rivals. Newly minted Finance Minister Yair Lapid, hugely popular for opposing the long-standing preferential treatment enjoyed by the religious minority, is moving swiftly to slash state handouts to large families, compel lifelong seminary students to work and join the army, and remove funding for schools that don't teach math, science and English.
 The religious - labeled "parasites" [Ed: WOW. Sieg heil! ] by one Lapid emissary this week - are crying foul. But they appear helpless, at least in the short run, to stop Lapid from pressing his agenda.
For most of the last three decades, the country's small ultra-Orthodox minority sat in governing coalitions, securing vast budgets for religious schools and automatic exemptions from mandatory military service for tens of thousands of young men in full-time religious studies.
Tapping into widespread resentment over these expensive perks, Lapid made a strong showing in January elections. His new Yesh Atid, or There is a Future, party finished second in the voting, turning him into the newest star of Israeli politics and propelling him to a senior position in the governing coalition.
 The religious parties, meanwhile, were pushed into the opposition. Lapid, facing a yawning deficit, has moved quickly to drastically slash budgets favoring the ultra-Orthodox. "I say, let there be war," Lapid said in a speech Wednesday.
 According to a draft of planned reforms viewed by The Associated Press, the Finance Ministry has proposed cutting in half government subsidies to religious schools that do not teach a core curriculum including math, science and English, and boosting funding for schools that do. It also seeks to allow subsidies for child day care only if both parents work - an effort to entice ultra-Orthodox men who study religious texts full time to join the job market. 
A parliamentary committee headed by Yesh Atid Cabinet Minister Yaakov Peri also proposes cutting 30 percent of funding to ultra-Orthodox religious seminaries and introducing legislation to end most military draft exemptions, Israeli media reported this week.
Looks like now Israel is caught up in this deranged austerity ideology and moron laborer/warrior class representatives within the Israeli government, perhaps acting under some sort of covetousness or jealous resentment, are threatening the means of subsistence of the religious intelligentsia there.

Can there really exist an "Israel" without this religious intelligentsia cohort within?  Perhaps not.

This austerity may be a more serious threat to the true "Israel" than their aggressive human neighbors.

54 comments:

Unknown said...

It might be a bit strong to call the Haredim "The Intelligentsia". The Demographics say that they are growing as a percent of the population and they are a pure economic cost to the economy (the study of sacred texts does not add to production). It is a question of how much charity the rest of the population is willing to give them.

Matt Franko said...

U,

It's as if you have been able to condense the economic aspects of Matthew and Luke into two sentences here.

The tithe was not "charity"...

rsp,

Ignacio said...

So you don't believe in the separation of religion and the state? Why would an unproductive religious caste had to be subsidized by the rest of the population?

Even if it's in the name of the false god of austerity, I don't see this as something bad.

Matt Franko said...

Ignacio,

I'm reminded of the old Mark Knopfler /Dire Straits song "Money for Nothing"....

That ain't workin'
That's the way you do it
You play the guitar on the MTV
That ain't workin'
That's the way you do it
Get your money for nothing
and your chicks for free....


It's perhaps a slippery slope when we start to define what "is work" and what "is not work"...

and I would assume that the nation-state of Israel would not have a "separation clause" in their civil law or how could the religious scholars have been receiving the fiscal injection in the first place...

Under state currency systems it's hard for me to imagine that there exists a true "separation" between the state and "anything"...

rsp,

y said...

"the Finance Ministry has proposed cutting in half government subsidies to religious schools that do not teach a core curriculum including math, science and English"

What kind of an "intelligentsia" doesn't teach its children math and science?

I'd say that to qualify as part of an "intelligentsia" you need, at the very least, to have a knowledge of, understanding of, respect for, and openness to ideas, philosophies, beliefs, and cultural forms that are different to your own.

Generally ultra-orthodox religious fundamentalists seem to choose not have any of the above, to any significant degree.

As is demonstrated by the apparent reluctance to teach their own kids math and science.

"the true "Israel"

The (so-called) ultra-orthodox are one faction within "Israel", not the "true Israel".

Given that you're a Christian, presumably you believe that some of their beliefs are mistaken (i.e. their rejection of Christ). As such, how can they be the "true Israel", from your perspective?

Bob Roddis said...

Government subsidies to fundamentalist religious schools that do not teach a core curriculum including math, science and English have always been a central tenant of monetary theory, right?

This post is so good, it deserves a permanent bookmark.

Ignacio said...

This is pure rhetoric, why would then the state be subsidizing one religions over other religions? I don't buy into these believes, so I don't think the state should be subsidizing someone (or can't you see the moral hazard this creates?) over me or my believes.

When you are generating some sort of earnings by playing music, you are not paid by the state (hopefully!) to do so, you receive that income by individuals which are freely deciding to give it to you. There is hardly a comparison, it doesn't matter if I believe these musicians are unproductive, cause it's not all of the population which is freely giving them purchasing power regardless of their preferences.

If Israel is a theocracy, then they are not much better than countries they hate like Iran or Saudi Arabia. Off course under these regimes there is hardly a separation between the state and religion. Hopefully in western nations we passed that phase long ago and religious people has to be subsidized/paid by their own particular religious followers, not by everybody.

y said...

"Under state currency systems it's hard for me to imagine that there exists a true "separation" between the state and "anything"..."

I disagree. I don't know how you managed to reach that conclusion.

Matt Franko said...

Look, nobody had any big problem with these people who are led to live in a community where the focus is on the study/compliance with ancient Hebrew Scriptures until now?

What has changed? "Out of money" now? Please...

y, Can't one choose parochial schools in the UK?

They can easily just let these people alone to pursue their studies and community and the rest can enjoy their subsidy the way they are led to enjoy it... but for their fiscal ignorance..

rsp,

Matt Franko said...

Bob,

We are not under the metals anymore for the umpteenth time....

y said...

Bob, I think you meant tenet.

And no, they haven't.

Bob Roddis said...

Thank you, y. While making food, I was distracted from my proofreading. The main sentence was supposed to end up like this:

"THE POLICY OF government subsidies to fundamentalist religious schools that do not teach a core curriculum including math, science and English HAS always been a central tenet of monetary theory, right?"

y said...

matt, any school in the UK that receives state funding has to teach a mandatory basic curriculum.

Bob Roddis said...

Do the rest of you support the Franko Principle that generic subsidies, which might in some cases be for productive purposes and in other cases for completely idiotic and/or anti-social purposes, a) can be viewed as homogeneous; b) invariably make the world go 'round; and c) are necessary to make the world go 'round?

Matt Franko said...

Bob,

This is Mike Norman Economics, not "Metal-Money-Love Central"...

rsp,

y said...

"THE POLICY OF government subsidies to fundamentalist religious schools that do not teach a core curriculum including math, science and English HAS always been a central tenet of monetary theory, right?"

Has it? Not to my knowledge.

Does subsidizing fundamentalist religious schools that do not teach a core curriculum have anything to do with monetary theory?

Matt Franko said...

"productive purposes"

Who says you get to decide what is "productive" King Bob?

Bob Roddis said...

Matt Franko said...

Bob,

We are not under the metals anymore for the umpteenth time....


I fail to grasp the relevancy other than to note that the lack of metals allows for a vastly more invasive and pernicious government system of looting resources from average people to be handed over buy votes, further subsidize the elite and provide a source of general support for nefarious government schemes.

Anonymous said...

Religious elites should not be favored any more than financial elites in a true democracy. But, obviously Israel is not a true democracy in many ways. No separation of synagogue and state there. This appears to have nothing to do with austerity. It's just an attempt by a not so orthodox Jew to make the orthodox share their part of national sacrifice for the common good.

paul said...

There isn't a single activity under the Sun that isn't subsidized in some way.

y said...

"can be viewed as homogeneous"

No.

"invariably make the world go 'round"

No. But if there is a monopoly supplier of currency then they should probably supply it in some way. Makes sense.

Whether you think there should be, or needs to be, a 'monopoly supplier of currency' is another question.

"are necessary to make the world go 'round?"

I think the world would probably keep spinning even if there weren't any humans on it. We also managed to function without any recognizable form of money for a while - you know, running around after animals, eating berries and whatnot.

Bob Roddis said...

to be handed TO over buy votes

Matt Franko said...

y,

I have to assume these schools teach some math and science in addition to studying the Hebrew scriptures.... math and science are required to study the Hebrew Scriptures in the first place...

Looks like they are under similar persecution right here in US/NYC too:

http://www.schoolbook.org/2013/01/22/report-orthodox-jewish-schools-elude-curriculum-rules

Looks like the lefty's here are against "no child left behind" unless they can Jew-bash with it...

paul said...

"Looks like the lefty's here are against "no child left behind" unless they can Jew-bash with it…"

Speaking only for myself I believe in live and let live…

…unfortunately there are those that don't.

Bob Roddis said...

paul said...

There isn't a single activity under the Sun that isn't subsidized in some way.

I like that. It further confirms my belief that MMT is substantially based upon the relentless distortion of plain language and rather uncomplicated concepts.

y said...

"the lack of metals"

I think you'll find that metals are still available for purchase.

If you are not aware of this, then please go to this website:

http://www.bullionvault.com/

They should be able to satiate your desire for rare shiny objects.

Bob Roddis said...

I'm quite sick of people accusing others (even MMTers) of antisemitism and/or racism.

The "lefty's" (plural, not possessive) here are merely calling for equal treatment and/or are questioning a questionable subsidy. They are not "Jew-bashing".

Is it really controversial to suggest that people should not be compelled to subsidize someone else's religion?

y said...

"There isn't a single activity under the Sun that isn't subsidized in some way."

You mean "subsidized" by the sun? What "subsidizes" the sun?

Bob Roddis said...

y said:

I think you'll find that metals are still available for purchase.

But…..

Matt Franko said...

Bob,

We are not under the metals anymore for the umpteenth time....


Relevance?

paul said...

"What "subsidizes" the sun?"

It's an ongoing nuclear reaction…initialized by the Big Bang according to theory…winding down I might add as does every process we know about.

But I have to think you already know that…

The point I was trying to make is that no process we know about is self-sustaining…there is no perpetual motion.

y said...

"math and science are required to study the Hebrew Scriptures in the first place..."

Come on, stop playing around.

You don't learn math and science by reading the scriptures, even if they do have some interesting things to say on those subjects.

"unless they can Jew-bash with it..."

The point of that article is that children in some religious schools apparently aren't being taught basic subjects properly. How is that "Jew-bashing"?


y said...

"there is no perpetual motion".

I agree, ultimately you do need something from "outside" to support "inside" activity ;)

paul said...

This part is true:

"…rather uncomplicated concepts."

Something I've always maintained…

…but I fail to see how simple arithmetic becomes relentless distortion.

Your word-salad explanations about how an economy should operate however fits that description quite nicely.

y said...

Bob,

the relevance is this:

If you have a desire to own bits of rare shiny metal, then by all means please go ahead and exchange your bank credits, or state-issued pieces of paper, or whatever else it is that you might happen to own, for it.

But please don't expect everyone else to share your enthusiasm for shiny metal. Personally I find other luxury products more interesting, as I don't wear jewellery and see no point in hoarding blocks of metal in an underground vault.

Matt Franko said...

y,

Maybe they know enough math to be made to see we are not "out of money"?

Just that amount of mathematical maturity/knowledge would be fine with me... perhaps this should be the math part of the 'no child left behind" test...

There are probably plenty of humans who could solve a 3rd order quadratic equation who are going around thinking "we're out of money" for instance...

Is this type of math education truly helping?

Tom Hickey said...

"THE POLICY OF government subsidies to fundamentalist religious schools that do not teach a core curriculum including math, science and English HAS always been a central tenet of monetary theory, right?"

Where did you get that idea? In the US, it is prohibited by the US Constitution as interpreted by the courts to date.

What counties choose to impose politically is a political choice presumably made iaw the laws of the country. Monetary theory has nothing to do with that unless it affects economic policy space.

What macro says is that grants that do not increase production/productivity commensurably are dead weight subsidies. When they go to special interests, then there should be some countervailing reason. If a country values religion and wishes to subsidize it culturally, where's the problem, even though it is a no-no in the US.

paul said...

"There are probably plenty of humans who could solve a 3rd order quadratic equation who are going around thinking "we're out of money" for instance.."

This leads to an important point…there are many people out there that have an "understanding" of complex mathematics…

…there is a dearth of people that have the ability to see mathematical patterns in real world problems which is a prerequisite to any successful solution.

They can't even define the problems, let alone solve them.

Tom Hickey said...

Do the rest of you support the Franko Principle that generic subsidies, which might in some cases be for productive purposes and in other cases for completely idiotic and/or anti-social purposes, a) can be viewed as homogeneous; b) invariably make the world go 'round; and c) are necessary to make the world go 'round?

Sovereign nations make decisions, including economic policy, based on the way they have chosen to make political choices.

I am totally against using economic criteria alone, e.g., neoliberalism, wrt national policy. The degree to which nations do this is usually directly related to the power and political influence of the wealthy.

Tom Hickey said...

…there is a dearth of people that have the ability to see mathematical patterns in real world problems which is a prerequisite to any successful solution.

They can't even define the problems, let alone solve them.


The difference between pure science and engineering as applied science.

There is a German saying that translates as, "For an engineer, nothing is too difficult."

paul said...

I should add that I'm not saying people aren't capable of seeing these patterns…many are…just that the skill is un or under-developed.

Which leads to the discussion in another thread on why home-schoolers seem to do better than kids educated within the "system".

Matt Franko said...

The basic issue here is that we can see another probably 60 year institution here in Israel where they have these Orthodox Schools which have been operating under law no problem for probably at least as long as that nation/state has existed or longer which is coming under threat due to this false belief that "we're out of money!" again....

And yes ironically to beat all one of the arguments from the moron attackers is that these schools have less than adequate math education anyway..

paul said...

"we're out of money!"

And today re Warren Mosler R&R are doubling down on that (non) reality in an op-ed.

As Warren says…they have to know they're lying now and it's there for everyone to see…they aren't even trying to conceal it anymore.

Matt Franko said...

I wonder who wrote the check to pay for the NYTs page????

y said...

"these Orthodox Schools which have been operating under law no problem for probably at least as long as that nation/state has existed"

Matt, the Israeli government isn't saying that it wants to get rid of the ultra-orthodox, or shut down their schools and institutions.

Yair Lapid is saying that these schools shouldn't receive state funding if they don't give their pupils a basic comprehensive education, and that the ultra-orthodox community should have to do military service like every other Israeli.

That sounds quite reasonable to me, even though I don't actually support compulsory military service.

I'm not sure what the proposals regarding "large" ultra-orthodox families are, however, so I can't comment on that.

Matt Franko said...

Maybe not "get rid of" per se, but if you remove their means of subsistence, then you know that is the result anyways...

They should just let their warriors handle the rough stuff... these people are not warriors.

What are they protecting anyway if they think they can just destroy if nothing else this part of the Israelite "tradition" of the Hebrew Scriptures?

Is the nation/state of Israel now just all about "learning English", and "STEM" so they all can be "productive" little Hobbits?

All of this "productivity" is supposed to be our disgrace:

"31 "You, then, should not be worrying, saying, 'What may we be eating?' or 'What may we be drinking?' or 'With what may we be clothed?'
32 For for all these the nations are seeking."

Their leadership continues to fail them....

rsp,

y said...

"Maybe not "get rid of" per se, but if you remove their means of subsistence, then you know that is the result anyways..."

I think what the finance minister is saying is:

1. If the ultra-orthodox want state funding for their schools then they should be obliged to give the kids a proper education, and,

2. Given that military service is compulsory for most Israelis, there's no reason why the ultra-orthodox should be able to just opt out.

"these people are not warriors"

The way to end the militarization of Israel is not by burying your head in the sand, pretending it doesn't exist, and letting others fight on your behalf. Maybe the fundamentalists need to get out more.

y said...

"What are they protecting anyway if they think they can just destroy if nothing else this part of the Israelite "tradition" of the Hebrew Scriptures?"

Why do you think the ultra-orthodox are the embodiment of the tradition of the Hebrew scriptures?

Matt Franko said...

I look at them as part of it...

These Orthodox value and study the Hebrew Scriptures... this should generally be supported in my view (especially in Israel I would think...)

Tho perhaps to your point FD: I am not an Israelite.... "outside lookin' in" to a great extent on this issue...

Still seems 'unjust' and 'stupid' to me from my vantage point.

rsp,

y said...

"These Orthodox value and study the Hebrew Scriptures"

So do you, I presume. And anyone else who is part of the Judeo-Christian-Muslim tradition.

Matt Franko said...

right, but imo they should not allow fiscal ignorance to destroy this part of the "traditon" if you will needlessly...

They arent hurting anybody with their community (are they?)

rsp,

Matt Franko said...

It's like our Amish/Mennonite sects here in the US... we co-exist... horse-drawn carriages right on the roadways and all...

I have to drive around these carriages sometimes, causes traffic delays, no big deal (to me)... usually gets me thinking about more glorious things than I am usually thinking about before I see them....

rsp,

y said...

"They aren't hurting anybody with their community (are they?)"

As I said, the Israeli government isn't proposing that Israel should get rid of the ultra-orthodox Jews, or demolish their schools and other institutions.

What this particular minister is saying is that the ultras shouldn't be given the special privileges of:

a) state funding for their schools, without having to give their pupils a proper education, and

b) exemption from (what is for most Israelis) compulsory military service.

y said...

(Again, I can't comment on the issue of supposedly "large" state-supported ultra-orthodox families)

paul said...

"horse-drawn carriages right on the roadways and all…"

Yeah, how dare they…I doubt they even pay highway taxes since they don't buy gas…although the horses do produce methane.