The Shas Sephardi said Monday it will file a complaint with the Supreme Court, charging the government with discrimination for removing the Haredi city of Beitar Illit in eastern, Gush Etzion, from its list of national priority communities that receive special benefits.
The government on Sunday placed 91 communties in Judea and Samaria on the list, most of them in areas near the Lebanese and Egyptian borders, and removed Beitar Illit from the list. Also taken off the list were Kiryat Malachi and Kiryat Gat, which are predominantly non-Haredi cities, and Harish, near the north-central Mediterranean Coast.
Shas party leader Aryeh Deri screamed “foul” and accused Jewish Home party chairman Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid of tilting the list to protect communities where they are popular.
Although politics is blatant every time the government sneezes, Shas’ accusations are more for making political hay with its constituents than for making any logic.
One of the Jewish Home’s strongholds is the heavily Anglo-populated community of Efrat, in Gush Etzion, but it was removed from the list, a move that is not going to win applause for the Jewish Home party. Significantly the government placed on the list three former outposts that were legalized shortly before the last elections.
The new list favors communities that have not enjoyed substantial growth, as opposed to Beitar Illit, Kiryat Malachi, Kiryat Gat and Harish, all of which have grown handsomely thanks to government financial props.
It is an old story of getting used to being on the dole for so long that one forgets how to get along without it.
The Haredi community is learning, painfully because there is no other way, that forever does not last for eternity.
Real state entrepreneur and contractor Ya’akov Hershkop, born in the United States, cried to the Hebrew-language Yediot Acharonot’s website, “This government is simply cruel. There are no other words to describe what is happening here. Our public is being ‘attacked’ on a daily basis, and they are taking away the milk and bread we have left.
“We will have to take matters into our own hands and seek the support of the Diaspora Jews, who will stand by us. I have no choice but embark – together with the community leaders – on a fund-raising trip abroad. Maybe our salvation will come from there.” Yitzhak Ravitz, chairman of Degel HaTorah’s Beitar Illit chapter and the son of the late Haredi Knesset Member and deputy minister Avraham Ravitz, told the newspaper, “For every apartment here there are a hundred people who want to buy it, and suffocating this city is a foolish act. It is a stupid and irresponsible decision as far as the settlement enterprise is concerned. It is also malicious.”
One question the newspaper did not ask him: If there is such a big demand to live in Beitar Illit, why does it have to be on the national priority list?
About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.
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