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Israel

Welfare Babies: The Economics Of Israel's Ultra-Orthodox Power

Ultra-Orthodox parties in coalition with Benjamin Netanyahu's government have obtained bonus welfare benefits for their religious schools and families. How the government is undermining the country's future generations.

In Jerusalem
In Jerusalem
Mickey Peled

-OpEd-

TEL AVIV None of Israel"s most recent policy reforms are going to encourage my child to stay in this country in 20 years, when he will be eligible to emigrate abroad. Indeed, they will no doubt help drive him away.

After serving two years in the opposition, Israel's two ultra-Orthodox parties are now coalition members with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government. The agreements the United Torah Judaism (UTJ) and Shas parties signed with Netanyahu include guaranteed income for ultra-Orthodox, or yeshiva, students, the elimination of incentives for their education system to teach core subjects and the cancelation of earning-capacity criterion.

All of these benefits further decrease the possibility that an ultra-Orthodox child and his family could ever make a living in Israel, or anywhere in the Western world.

Netanyahu's tenure has caused long-term damage and will continue to do so, because he is sacrificing the futures of our children.

Not only will young Orthodox children not receive an education that would allow them to support themselves economically, they will also grow up in a cultural environment where it's not a given that parents get up and go to work in the mornings.

This isn't just an ultra-Orthodox issue. We need to understand that when the ultra-Orthodox, who will represent 25% of the population in a generation, continue to study within an educational system that provides a third-world level of content in terms of equipping them professionally, they're not realizing their earning potential.

Not only are they living in poverty, but they are also harming the general development of the entire Israeli economy and the quality of life for all of us because they are dependent on the government.

Additionally, if we continue to spend so much money to support these families and their separate school systems, it will decrease Israeli's ability to continue funding and supporting the strongest army in the Middle East, assuring its superiority both in quality and quantity. It's not very complicated to imagine what might happen if this country's army devolves from a first-world one to a third-world one.

Needless to say, both Netanyahu, who signed these coalition agreements, and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who will sign the checks to the ultra-Orthodox institutions, bear responsibility for the not-so-optimistic future that lies ahead for Israel's population and economy. It all leaves this Israeli parent thinking about the day his children say they want to move abroad.

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