Tuesday, October 26, 2021

'If We Don't get it, Why should They?!"

Israeli MK, Meir Porush (VIN)
Subtlety is not the forte of the far right. The more right wing one is, the more black and white one is. Nuance disappears.

It is that characteristic of the extreme right of Religious Zionist settlers (like the so-called Hilltop Youth) that causes so many of them to see all Arabs as the enemy. ‘They all hate us.’   ‘So we must hate all of them.’ I have even heard some of them say (only half in jest) that the only good Arab is a dead Arab. A few of these trailer-park settlers have no compunction about killing innocent Palestinians in ‘revenge attacks’ when an innocent Jew is killed by one of their terrorists. 

So the idea of allocating 30 billion NIS ($9.375 billion) from Israel’s budget to Israel’s Arab sector must have really stuck in their craw. Even to those who would not murder an innocent Arabs - they believe that money would be far better spent on developing their own Deep West Bank settlements. But allocating 30 billion NIS to its Arabs is exactly what the Israel government under Naftali Bennett has done. From VIN

Israel’s new government has allocated NIS 30 billion ($9.375 billion) from the new budget to improve the quality of life and the economic status of Israel’s Arab sector and in particular the Negev Bedouin. The budgetary plan will be implemented over the years 2022-2026.

Israel wants to raise the standard of their lives so that there will be no gap between them and their Jewish population. (Read there for more details)

I am in complete agreement with this. Unlike the abovementioned extremist settler types, I believe that most Israeli Arabs are decent hard working people that are grateful for living in the Jewish state. Asked in a recent poll whether  they would move to the West Bank in the event it would become an independent state, the vast majority gave a resounding answer of no. They are quite happy where they are.

Oddly enough Charedi MK Meir Porush seems to agree doing with this. Although he has a funny way of making his point - doing is in the negative. Here is what he said: 

MK Meir Porush (UTJ) decried the government hypocrisy in allocated huge funds to a sector which does not serve equally in the IDF and is even hostile towards army service, whereas when former PM Netanyahu attempted to allocate minimal budgets to the chareidi sector, the same MKs claimed that the chareidim do not carry the burden equally and should not receive government support.

In other words it’s not that he wants to deny Israeli Arabs these funds. It’s that the condition for denying funds to the Charedi community should apply to Israel’s Arabs. He may have sounded upset at giving them funds. But I am pretty sure he would have no problem giving them those funds if he could get the same deal for Charedim.  

There are some differences, however, that favor giving Israel Arabs that money over Charedim. It’s true that neither segment serves in the army. But the Arab sector does not support or advocate their people learning full time in a Yeshiva or Kollel for as long as possible. They will surely eager to take advantage of the intent of this allocation. Such as the following: 

(…the) increase (in) the proportion of Arab students eligible for matriculation at the level of 5 units in mathematics, English and computer science,  as well as increasing the proportion of graduates in high-tech subjects. 

By contrast, Charedi leaders have no interest in pulling their B’nei Torah out of the Yeshiva or Kollel for that type of training. They don’t even allow core secular subjects to be taught in their high schools at all – considering it Bitul Torah! (…wasting time that should be used studying Torah). Besides there are programs like this that the B’nei Torah can already take advantage of if they leave Kollel.

This is not - God forbid - to say that learning Torah is a waste of time. It is just to point out a difference in circumstances by which the Israeli government justifies giving the Arab community money over giving it to the Charedi community. 

There is another advantage to building up the Arab sector – aside for the fact that is the morally correct thing to do. Israel’s image matters. It is important for the world to see that Israel cares about the welfare of all of its citizens regardless of whether they are Jewish or Muslim. And that they are putting their money where their mouth is.