Friday, April 20, 2012

Church And State Problems In Israel

Radical atheist thought: Getting paid by the government to study this
is a waste of time and money.

America has its problems with church and state separation, that's for sure. Our money is stamped with the Christian deity. Our Pledge of Allegiance got hijacked by Christians in the 1950's. Some state constitutions still have a provision that atheists can not serve in public office. The Boy Scouts are able to discriminate against atheists because we are not moral enough for them, and yet they still get support from the government.

But American atheists can take some solace that at least we are not Israel.

Ynet, an Israeli news agency, stated recently that by 2030 only 59.1% of the population will be in the work force.

There are two reasons why the percentage of people in the workforce is dropping. First, the population is growing older. Second, is that certain populations that simply aren't as engaged in working are getting bigger.

The study further revealed that the haredi and Arab population, which both have low levels of labor force participation, are expected to rise significantly over the next two decades.  
The haredi sector in the population will grow from 11% to 18% while the secular sector is set to decrease from 33% to 28% and then to 27%. In fact, the study shows that the haredi and Bedouin populations are set to double.
I've written about the ultra-Orthodox haredi in the past. But this needs repeating: The haredi has cost the Israeli economy a remarkable amount of money.
The Israeli economy stands to lose more than NIS 6 billion ($1.55 billion) annually as result of low haredi participation in the workforce, a new report found.  
The loss stems from the increasing number of haredim who postpone their entry into the workforce under the Torah studies exemption. The Tal Law exempts yeshiva students from mandatory military service if they do nothing but study the Torah until their 30s – which means the loss of some 10 year in the workforce. - Haredi unemployement costs billions annually
There are some efforts to get the haredi working. A college specifically designed for the haredi has opened in Israel in order to get more of them into the workforce and off subsidies. But there has been resistance from the faith-based community.

The unique circumstances and growth of Israel’s haredim pose a significant challenge for the country -- one this college is attempting to answer. There are a few factors keeping haredim out of the workforce: haredi values, (emphasis mine) including wariness of the secular world; government subsidies for yeshiva study; and the rules of the Israeli army draft, which mandate yeshiva study for those seeking to avoid military conscription.

Haredi values? This is a similar argument that we hear in the US when the religious demand their "rights" to dictate what health care their employees receive. They faithful cry foul when their "right" to tell people who they should marry is challenged.
Sitting in the audience during a lecture by Ben-David on the subject several years ago was Adina Bar Shalom, daughter of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the Sephardic Orthodox Shas party. The lecture helped spark her idea to launch Israel’s first-ever haredi college. 
It wasn’t easy to get support from the haredi community -- or her father -- for the idea. Haredi Orthodox Jews long have viewed higher education as suspect, something that since the Enlightenment period has been viewed by haredim as a potentially dangerous road that could lead to assimilation and secularism. (From the article immediately above.)
The haredi are right: they should be afraid of Enlightenment values. Enlightenment values will turn their people from faith-bots into independently thinking and rational people. Independently thinking and rational people are the natural enemies of religion.

I love to bring up Israel to religious conservatives here in the US. There is this fallacious idea amongst American conservatives that a faith-based government/economy is going to solve all of our problems. Unemployment will disappear and the streets will be paved in gold. It is ironic that the largest faith-based economy the world has seen, the USSR (Oh, it was faith-based. Not religious faith, but the Marxist-Leninist system was based on belief more than anything else.), is the economic system that the American religious right rails against.

Faith isn't the answer. It never is.

This is Purgatory. 


  1. Good post Andy. I think that are correct to compare the views of the Haredi with the Christian extremists in this country. While the methods and goals may appear different, the end result will be much the same---a stagnating economy. There is little way around this problem when modern advances in science and other fields of education are not valued. That is where the world is going and those things need a place of value in any society that is to flourish in this century.

  2. Slowly, economic imperatives will result in the Israeli government, like those lucky Italians and their vatican thingy levelling taxes or forcing the religiously lazy to get a bloody job. They're like parasites these idiots. Send 'em packing.

  3. In the U.S. there is huge increase in the number of kids being home-schooled ( and the majority of theme are Christian fundies (

    You can imagine what kind of values they'll grow up with and how their quality of learning will ultimately impact the work force.

    1. Agreed. Now that Christians no longer dominate the school systems they are making their own version of madrassas.


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