Thursday, October 31, 2013

What's really bothering MK Shafrir?

As part of Habayit Hayehudi's coalition agreement with Likud Beiteinu for the current government, a new "Jewish Identity Administration" is to be started. Earlier this week, the Finance Committee voted to fund it to the tune of 14 million shekel.

Freshman MK Stav Safrir opposed the funding, since the Administration would (might?) push a certain religious agenda. In her own (translated) words, "What is a Jewish identity, and who is authorized to define it?... It seems that someone is trying to promote a very specific agenda with public funds."

While it's a fair point, we have no idea if Shafrir's main motivation is that she's against indoctrination (not her term, but close enough to what she was speaking against that I'll use it; please forgive the inexactness of it) of the public with a particular agenda, or if she just happens to be against that agenda, and sees no problem with indoctrination, or doesn't really think that the program is about indoctrination (the more likely option, given the relatively small budget of the program, i.e., only a few measly shekel per person, not nearly enough to indoctrinate even a small percentage of Israeli Jews).

A telling piece of information would be how she reacted to a similar case where she was either neutral or for a particular agenda, and see how she reacted there. Luckily, being Israeli politics, we don't have to look too far.

A while back, there was a proposal to cut funding which Yeshivot here get for each foreign student that attends. As Finance Minister, Lapid decided to restore that funding, with the caveat that the schools have to teach Zionism and civics to the students. (Hebrew article) Of course, there's not one kind of Zionism (and some Jews don't subscribe to any version): Wikipedia lists no fewer than six different types! This program certainly pushes a Zionist agenda, and may even demand that a certain kind of Zionist agenda be pushed.

So where was Shafrir when this item came up for discussion? With a 50 million shekel price tag, it has more than three times the budgetary impact as the Jewish Identity Administration, and it also promotes a very specific agenda.

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