Tragically, Deri’s ‘great revolution’ will continue even if he cannot outflank the court.

Completely shameless, convicted bribery criminal prosecutor Aryeh Deri has responded to the High Court’s unsurprising determination that his return to ministerial post is “grossly unreasonable” by describing the ruling as a dishonestly motivated attack on the “great revolution”. his party Shas. has been promoting. And vowing, by any means, to evade the court’s effort to protect Israel and its coffers from his ministrations.

Hours after Wednesday decision that he must resign immediately or be fired, and after hosting Benjamin Netanyahu for a strategy and solidarity session that also constituted a joint taunting message of defiance to the judges the prime minister is bent on emasculating, Deri declared: “We will continue to with the great revolution. We will continue to represent the poorer echelons, we will continue to represent the world of Torah, we will continue to protect the Jewish identity of the State of Israel, by all means and by all possibilities.”

“When they close the door on us, we will enter through the window,” he said. swore with his revolutionary fervor. “When they close the window we will break the roof, with the help of God.”

Empowered by Netanyahu, Israel’s ultra-Orthodox leaders in the Sephardi Shas and their Ashkenazi counterpart United Torah Judaism have long been engaged in revolution. It is not the catastrophic planned judicial reform I am talking about here, but an educational, social and economic revolution with devastating consequences for many of its own voters and for Israel.

And the deals that Shas and UTJ struck in last month’s coalition deals with Netanyahu’s Likud are designed to hasten the damage. In fact, if implemented, they are guaranteed to deepen the education and jobs crisis for the Haredi community, condemning much of the country’s fastest-growing population segment to ever-increasing poverty and ultimately threatening sustainability. same state.

abusing his electorate

In their coalition agreements, Shas and UTJ negotiated massively expanded funding for their non-state school networks. Not only are the finances and operations of such schools often lacking effective oversight, with the potential for abuse of funds, but additional funds are allocated without a mandatory requirement to teach a core curriculum including math, science and English.

Similarly, the parties secured increased funding for full-time yeshiva study for Haredi men and pledged to expand the already extensive exemption that the sector of the population has obtained from the military and any other national service.

In combination, these priorities, presented by Deri and UTJ leader Yitzhak Goldknopf as significant achievements, mean that more of their constituents will be denied the basic education they need to become an effective and satisfied part of the workforce that can support their families. , and are a disincentive to even attempt to do so.

Instead, and this is precisely what the Shas and UTJ strategy intends, many of them will become increasingly dependent on state-funded welfare and their political leaders using coalition influence to maintain funding. of social assistance in operation. However, it must be emphasized that Shas generally has a more distinctly Zionist outlook than UTJ, and his voters are much more likely than UTJ’s to perform military service and enter the workforce.

United Torah Judaism leader Housing and Construction Minister Yitzhak Goldknopf arrives for a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem on January 15, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

No one recognizes better than Netanyahu the dangers caused to Israel’s economy by large sections of the population who are poorly educated and discouraged from working. Just last month, in some of the most spectacularly thoughtless comments it is possible to conceive, Netanyahu precisely explained in an English language interview how, as finance minister 20 years ago, he introduced sweeping reforms to the national welfare system, which he said had been widely abused in much of the Arab and Haredi communities.

“To put the ‘fat man’, the public sector, on a diet, I had to cut Israel’s lavish welfare system, which encouraged people to live on the dole and not go out to work,” the prime minister said. . specified. At the risk of becoming unpopular, he continued: “I cut child allowances, which in Israel were extraordinary: they went up with each successive child; it was leading to demographic and economic collapse. And the same thing happened in other sectors, the ultra-Orthodox community, etc. They didn’t work. They just had a lot of children that the private sector had to pay for.”

Just three weeks after that interview, and only a week after he himself tweeted about it, Netanyahu’s Likud signed its coalition agreements with the Haredi parties, envisioning a return to the same self-defeating processes it had recognized and addressed 20 years ago. years.

Ultra-Orthodox men celebrate the Simchat Torah festival in the Mea She’arim neighborhood of Jerusalem on October 17, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

national damage

Not only is relegation to inferior education, exclusion from national service, reduced prospects for productive employment, and a disincentive to attempt work, profoundly damaging to much of the Haredi community, but it is also immensely damaging to the rest of Israel.

When your fastest growing demographic is poorly educated, your country gradually, inevitably, deteriorates from successful to poor. (Currently making up about 12.6% of the population, the Haredi sector is said to be growing twice as fast as the total population. Indeed, according to According to Dan Ben-David of the Shoresh Institution for Socioeconomic Research, a staggering 23.7% of Israelis ages 0-4 are Haredi).

When large swaths of that sector do not share national service responsibilities, they stray from healthy integration with other Israelis, and this breeds resentment among those who take the strain. When the rest of Israel is also required to increasingly subsidize them (20% of the workforce already pay 92% of income tax, while the bottom 50% of the population is too poor to pay any income tax, according to to Ben-David), resentment and a sense of injustice can only deepen, with potentially drastic repercussions. These may include a growing brain drain, growing national disunity, a not-too-distant inability to maintain a strong economy, and ultimately, by extension, a reduced ability to ensure Israel’s defense.

The high birth rate, low education, widespread avoidance of national service, and relatively low labor force participation in much of the Haredi community are not new trends, and their implications are not new sources of concern. But the coalition’s stated agenda will exacerbate rather than address them.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leaves Aryeh Deri’s Jerusalem home, having visited leader Shas hours after a High Court ruling disqualifying Deri from ministerial post, on January 18, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

High Court judges ruled that Deri should not hold a ministerial position both for his financial recidivism and for misleading a Jerusalem magistrates court when he said, while negotiating a non-custodial agreement sentence for his tax conviction last year, that he would no longer deal with matters of “public economic interest since he will be distanced from the public sphere.”

Indeed, to the terrible detriment of Deri voters themselves and the state at large, the Shas leader’s “great revolution” will continue, whether or not he finds a window through, or a roof to break through, to flank the courts and direct it ministerially.

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