Thursday, June 14, 2007

Israel: Orthodox Ghetto State

People who have been following various comments I have made, especially over at DovBear, know that I'm i wee bit alienated from the State if Israel, which is an uncomfortable place for a former Zionist and active member of the Jewish community to be. Nonetheless, what I've been see coming forth from Zion is disturbing on many fronts. But a pair of articles I saw in the current Ha'aretz contain news that seals the doom for the secular political Zionism I grew up with and vindicates my long-held view that Israel is becoming little more than an Orthodox Ghetto State, incapable of being the leading vanguard of the Jewish people:

The Bottom Line / The Middle East's suicidal whale
By Meirav Arlosoroff
"State education is in danger," was the title of a series of advertisements published in the press over the past month. The notices, which warned that the Knesset's anticipated passage of the Nahari Bill would ruin the education system, were signed by the mayors of Israel's 15 largest cities.

"According to the proposal sponsored by Minister Meshulam Nahari," read the notices, "the government and the local authorities will be forced to transfer hundreds of millions of shekels from the state education system to schools that do not recognize the basic values of the State of Israel, do not educate in the spirit of democracy and do not teach general studies, which are essential for economic and social well-being."

Analysis / How much does each ultra-Orthodox pupil cost us?

The education minister has admitted that state education is declining, while ultra-Orthodox education is flourishing
Ultra-Orthodox high school students in Israel do not study for matriculation exams. They have no reason to. They learn in a yeshiva - for men only, of course - and in most cases do not learn English, math, civics or literature, but rather only Judaic subjects. In many yeshivas studies are conducted in the traditional format of huge study halls with hundreds of students, taught by one rabbi.

When they complete their yeshiva high school studies, these boys will go on to learn in more advanced yeshivas, as part of a track that grooms ultra-Orthodox men for biblical and talmudic studies only, and the exclusion of all other studies. And the exclusion of work, of course.
This does not bode well for the Jews of the Land of Israel. Especially Jews who would prefer their children to have a good general education and be self-supporting. I know many Jews advocate aliyah as a way to deal with ever-increasing day-school tuition in the US. But Orthodox Jews in the US, even the black-hatter Orthodox, want their kids to learn enough to be able to earn an honest living. They may move to Israel and find that the education available might be free, but they'll also find that it's inferior.

This trend is dangerous for the State of Israel and the Jews of Israel, and I would hope that the vast majority of secular and non-hareidi Orthodox Israeli voters will rise up and stop the trend. But I don't have much hope that they will.