God bless the supreme court of Israel. They aren’t always as daring as I want them to be, but sometimes they do the right thing. And that’s what they did yesterday when they decided that the state may no longer subsidize the learning of yeshiva students.
Here’s the full Haaretz article, and here’s a little quote that sums it up:
Justice Ayala Procaccia, who voted for the ruling, said the ruling characterized the dilemma between the obligation of a multi-cultural society to respect minorities and the duty of all citizens to accept their responsibilities according to the law of the land.
A third judge, Justice Edmond Levy, dissented.
“Torah study is a commandment and both the Knesset and the government have asserted that it should be funded by placing on the public the burden of providing an income for Torah students,” Levy wrote.
If Israel is to prove that it is indeed “The Only Democracy” in the region, this is the type of state-mandated pluralism they’re going to need more of. The state used to provide similar funding to college students, but cancelled that funding on 2000 (which is a shame). At the time, someone brought a case before the Supreme Court asking that if that funding to secular students had ended, the same funding for fundamentalist leeches who spend their entire lives in yeshiva must surely end as well.
The case finally came before the court this year and the verdict was good.
As an aside, I took this course taught by UN Declaration of Human Rights expert Hans Morsink last year about religion/state relationships all over the world. We had this one book (can’t remember name or author and left it in New Jersey, so…) that rated every country in the world based on a detailed list of legislative and facts-on-the-ground criteria. Israel, needless to say, didn’t do so hot in this book. But perhaps things are looking up?