Who would have believed that with Shinui in the government this would happen? That the Tal Law would look like the height of equality compared to government policy? That the government would propose allowing yeshiva students to take jobs at the age of 22 without completing military service, even a truncated stint, even in the civil guard? Even if this arrangement - allowing those who study for a living to work for a living - is temporary, it will certainly become permanent.
The connection between the budget cut plan and the ultra-Orthodox community's military service is not immediately clear. But the various budget cuts, particularly in child allowances, will burden the community. The plan is for married yeshiva students to earn by working the same amount of money they will lose in subsidy reductions. They will not be limited in the wages they can earn, or the type of job they can hold, so it is likely many will work more than study. At the age of 27, they will be granted a complete military service exemption.
The economic logic behind the move is the reduction of subsidies to the ultra-Orthodox community which subsequently forces ultra-Orthodox men to join the workforce. However, the idea that such a sensitive issue should be determined through an economic stimulus program is pretentious.
It will not be easy for the ultra-Orthodox to handle all the decrees related to the new economic policy that will affect them. The NIS 1 billion in the state budget that goes to yeshiva students will be cut by more than half, to NIS 400-500 million.
The ultra-Orthodox will first be hit by the across-the-board 10 percent cut in every ministry - i.e. a NIS 123 million cut in the budget of the Religious Affairs Ministry. The plan also includes another 10 percent cut in welfare payments, which includes support and subsidies for both organizations and individuals; ultra-Orthodox society lives off these payments.
The treasury's plan limits support for yeshivas to those with 100 or more students, because it is impossible to supervise the hundreds of tiny, five-student institutions that provide fertile ground for fraud. These yeshivas account for 25 percent of the students covered by the yeshiva budget.
Assuming that some of the small yeshivas will merge and many students will join larger institutions, the measure amounts to an approximately NIS 100 million cut. The state will also stop supporting the 16,000 yeshiva students who are not Israeli citizens, saving another NIS 103 million that until now was funneled into ultra-Orthodox society.