Вы здесь

OECD recommends Israel cut financial support for yeshiva students

Israel should halt government subsidies to yeshiva students and increase educational budgets for the Arab community, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said Tuesday in its annual report. The report highlighted concerns over the underrepresentation of certain groups, particularly within the haredi and Arab populations, in the “thriving hi-tech industry.” These groups have lower employment rates, shorter work hours, and lower wages, it said.

The OECD urged Israel to address this issue, calling for it to “remove government subsidies for yeshiva students and condition childcare support on fathers’ employment.”

Regarding the Arab sector, the organization’s economists recommended increasing funding for educational institutions to align conditions with those in Jewish schools and to increase the available options for childcare within Arab communities.

These recommendations come at a time when the government has been making adjustments to the budget, with an emphasis on expanding support for haredi institutions while reducing allocations for development and education in the Arab sector. The OECD urged a different course of action, emphasizing the need to bridge the economic gaps between different communities in Israel.

Crucial time for budget adjustment

In August, due to pressure from Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich (Religious Zionist Party), the Education Ministry canceled a special budget for higher education in east Jerusalem to prevent cuts in other schools. Later that month, government ministers and Arab local leaders agreed to release NIS 200 million for development programs in Arab communities, following a freeze on municipal budgets initiated by Smotrich in July.

In its report on Tuesday, the OECD also issued several warnings about Israel’s economic landscape. The country is developing a two-tiered economy in which the hi-tech sector thrives, while other industries lag behind in terms of economic gains, it said.

It also criticized Israel for its gender gap and recommended reducing barriers to imports. Additionally, the OECD called out Israel for its low use of renewable energy in electricity generation, urging it to take steps to address climate change.

Finance Committee chairman Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism) criticized the report, which recommended the cancellation of subsidies for yeshiva students and conditioning subsidies for toddlers on the employment potential of their parents.

“I invite whoever prepared this protocol to a debate, and I will tell them how the Jewish people, after thousands of years of exile, held on throughout the world amidst the Holocaust and [other] hardships and arrived in the Land of Israel thanks to Torah scholars,” he said. “The gentiles don’t understand this. Why did they say this? Because the hand of Israel is apparent in this matter; someone here made sure [they] say it. We will also address this.”

Zachy Hennessey