“The Jewish people cannot exist without Torah study. We survived all of the diasporas and were scattered around the globe. And those who sustained and continued to sustain the Jewish people were the Torahscholars,” said MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni during a meeting of the Knesset subcommittee on draft deferments for full-time yeshiva and kollel students.
He also lodged a protest against the subcommittee chairman, MK Yochanan Plesner (Kadima), claiming he took advantage of the meetings to raise issues that lie outside the subcommittee’s authority, such as a recent discussion on whether the army does any supervision of some 60,000 yeshiva and kollel students, in view of the fact that the State spends NIS 1 billion [$265 million] on them.
“The state also budgets NIS 750 million [$200 million] for culture and arts,” noted Rabbi Gafni. “Is there supervision over this? How do you know whether the reports and figures there are correct? Among artists there are also people who don’t serve in the army.”
Later, when the Knesset plenum held a special meeting in the middle of the summer recess to discuss military deferments for full-time yeshiva students, Plesner again lashed out at Torah scholars and incited against the chareidi public.