United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni, who has expressed opposition to the growing trend of haredim attending academic institutions, has now voiced his opposition to haredim joining the Israeli workforce.
The haredi MK was attending an event at Bar-Ilan University earlier this week in which he fielded questions and made further comments regarding the issue of higher education and workforce integration for his haredi constituency.
Gafni's general attitude has been to oppose any change to the "status quo," in which haredi children attend elementary schools where they receive very little secular education, and then go on to high schools where they receive none whatsoever. University attendance was considered out of the question.
In recent years, however, a growing number of "mainstream" haredim have begun seeking higher education, and there have been calls for incorporating more secular studies at the elementary and high school levels, so as to better prepare children for life in Israeli society, while strictly maintaining their haredi identity and way of life.
At the Bar-Ilan event, as reported by Kol Hai, Gafni acknowledged that there is a shift in public opinion, and that more and more haredim wish to integrate more fully into the workforce. However, when asked what he and the other haredi political representatives were doing to help, he said: "nothing".
The MK has explained this policy in the past as reflecting a conviction among the haredi spiritual and political leadership that any such integration into greater Israeli society will necessarily result in the spiritual decline of the individual.
Upon being pressed by audience questions, Gafni expressed the opinion that haredi people are well-equipped to succeed in any career even without a background in secular studies, due to their mental development from Torah study.
"We also study mathematics, just in a different way," claimed the MK.