Israeli News: A Daily Analysis
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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

April 1, 2008 Another Shas MK Guilty

Today Member of Knesset Shlomo Benizri of Shas was convicted of receiving bribes.  This has been described as one of the most serious cases of public corruption ever prosecuted in Israel.  Benizri stated that he will not resign from the Knesset. He claims the state prosecutor was setting him up.  Benizri joins a rather lengthy list of Shas MKs who have been convicted of crimes over the past ten years. 

Why have there been so many from Shas convicted of crimes?  There is no easy answer, but there are some explanations.  Generally Shas MKs have little to no experience in public service before they suddenly find themselves in the Knesset.  Many come straight from the Yeshiva world without experience in being public officials.  Secondly, many of them share in the problematic relationship that much of the Haredi world has towards the public coffers: whatever they can get for their constituents is good.  Of course, once one starts down that path, the line between their constituents and themselves is thin.  Finally in the last ten years, the rules of public ethic in Israel have become considerably tighter, thus resulting in many more convictions. 

Unfortunately, during the years that most of the canon of Jewish law has been written, Jews have lived in the Diaspora and not in a modern state under our sovereignty.  Perhaps the time has come to put the thousands of Yeshiva students that Israel is paying to study to good use and force them to spend some time updating the Jewish library to deal with some of the challenges that modern statehood presents.  Of course, the fact that many of the Yeshiva students are not Zionist and do not believe in modern Israel would have to be dealt with prior to implementation.

The Knesset passed an important law today.  The law delineated the rights of the students with learning difficulties in Israeli schools.  This is the first time such a law has been passed.  Of course, as with any legislation that is passed, the problem will be in its implementation.

There was an interesting article in Haaretz today.  There will be a conference in Jerusalem under the auspices of President Peres in May to discuss technology and the future of the Jewish People.  Sergey Brin, the founder of Google, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, and Yahoo president, Susan Decker are set to attend.  It should be an interesting conference.  Maybe it will be web-casted.