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State schools are dying. The number of pupils in those schools will fall to 50 percent by 2012, and every third pupil will be in an ultra-Orthodox school, according to a projection for elementary schools published in Haaretz this week.

The ultra-Orthodox parties have been disconnecting the terminally ill patient from the life support machines. This is not mercy killing, it's deduction killing: They're deducting from the state education system and adding to the ultra-Orthodox education.

About a month and a half ago, the Knesset enacted the Nahari Law, which requires local authorities to finance the ultra-Orthodox schools. This week the Knesset passed in preliminary reading the bill presented by United Torah Judaism abolishing the link between state financing and the core study program, and paving the road for generous budgetary increments.

How many times has it been said that the future is in education and nothing is more important than our children's education Not a bit of it. A stupid war and Qassams fired at Sderot bring people onto the streets, albeit not enough. A wretched decision by the attorney general brings demonstrators to the city square. The slogan, 'You're corrupt; we're fed up with you' generates a minor protest here and there. But when national education is handed to plunderers, no one utters a squeak. What do we care if our children are raised as ignoramuses, and our grandchildren as illiterates?

The mercy killing is not carried out by ultra-Orthodox Knesset members alone. Without the support of secular MKs, they would not have succeeded in pulling it off. Again they're kowtowing to Shas and UTJ. For without Shas in the coalition and without UTJ in reserve, Ehud Olmert has no government, just as Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak have no chance of setting up their own governments.

Thus they are willing to sell their own mothers for their personal ambitions, and her grandchildren and great-grandchildren too, while they're at it. Oh, mother, mother, what children you have raised, they are sinning against us.

All that is going on now inevitably flows from the original sin. When David Ben-Gurion abolished the various pre-state education 'streams' in favor of state education, in reality all he scrapped was the Histadrut schools, affiliated with the Labor Movement. The National Religious Party's state religious education remained, as did Agudat Yisrael's independent system, and in due course Shas ultra-Orthodox schools joined the wreckers of state education.

Children and their parents are trapped in the ultra-Orthodox school system, not from some great love of tradition, but simply for the goodies they hand out. Words of temptation, like jokes, sound better in Yiddish. State education has long run out of goodies to offer.'

It seemed in recent years that Eli Yishai and his colleagues' ravenous hunger had subsided. Tommy Lapid was their punishment. As his memory fades, they are up to their old tricks again. Amnon de Hartog will be punished for slapping an ultra-Orthodox MK, but they should be punished as well: For years they have been vilifying him only because he was blocking them from devouring excessive state allocations.

The bill exonerating ultra-Orthodox institutions from the core program will pass its first reading next week, and by the end of summer vacation the job will be completed. From now on, tens of thousands of pupils will be exempt from studying sciences, English and civics. They are being returned to the Ashkenazi's ghetto or the Moroccan Melah, which they will not be able to leave for the rest of their life. These children are lost. And the ultra-Orthodox parties will ensure their Knesset seats for a long time.

This government, too, declares that education tops its priorities. In reality, it is dragging it to the lowest depths.