The Deprived Elite
Jonathan D. Safren
Ha'aretz, June 10, 1999

I belong to the "elite" in this country, according to former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and convicted former MK Aryeh Der'i: I'm secular, educated, leftist and, sinner that I am, Ashkenazi as well. Even though I'm not in the top 10% income bracket, I'm still an "elitist" because my opinions on political, social and religious matters don't concur with theirs. I'm not in the higher political echelons either, but as someone who teaches teachers--and a "sensitive" subject like Bible at that--I do exert some influence on shaping the character of this country for some years to come. I work as an educator, I have liberal views, my salary is below the national average. I'm an elitist.

Let's review the ramifications of being an elitist in today's Israel.

First, I work hard for a living. There are many people in this country who don't work at all, either because they are in rabbinical seminaries (not always studying), or because they prefer to live on unemployment insurance or welfare, rather than work at menial jobs more suitable for Africans, Thai and Romanians.

Second, I pay all my taxes. There are many people in this country that don't pay all their taxes, or pay none at all. This is because they don't work (see previous paragraph), or because they conceal their true income from the goyish Zionist State, or simply because they're greedy.

Third, all the members of my family have served in the army, one of them even in Lebanon. There are many people in this country who don't serve in the army at all, or serve a reduced tour of duty in some dummy unit for former yeshiva students. Let the Zionist, secular suckers get killed!

Fourth, my children attended overcrowded, 40-student classrooms during years when cuts in the education budget and class hours were an almost everyday occurrence. As a result, I had to pay for private lessons, textbooks, field trips, materials, and ancillary expenses. There are many people in this country whose children attend small classes during an extended school day, and receive free textbooks and meals.

Fifth, I paid my children's tuition at the university, including living expenses when necessary (and it was often necessary!). There are young adults in this country who attend (not necessarily "study") at rabbinical seminaries for many years for free, and receive housing and living stipends as well. And if these young men choose to get married and have children while at these yeshivas, I pay for that too.

Sixth, I don't even have freedom of religion. I worship at a Conservative synagogue, which receives no support from the Ministry of Religion. So I have to pay high membership dues for the privilege of praying at the synagogue of my choice. Orthodox synagogues are supported by the government, all at my expense, to be sure.

When my children get married, the State won't recognize the legality of their marriages if the ceremonies are performed by one of my rabbis. Likewise, my rabbis are not allowed to perform conversions or grant divorces. The rabbis of the Orthodox establishment are employed by the State to perform these services, all at my expense, to be sure.

And now, after I have been deprived, exploited, extorted and oppressed, they have the nerve to ask me to understand the necessity for including the haredi, repressive, racist, blackmailing and corrupt Shas Party in the coalition government? Not on your life. I'm a proud "elitist"!

[original text slightly edited]