Telling Tales to Rome --2003
By, Moshe Burt
Recently, a friend of mine copied me on an email which he sent to his friends back in the U.S.
The subject of that email was how the disasterous economic fix in which Israel finds herself is directly traceable back to years, lo decades of the corrupt Socialist economy of protexia -- selective advantage to a few on the backs of the masses, the local and national patronage Hamulas, Comrade Peretz and his Histadrut labor union self-interests, as well as systemic legalized embezzlement via bloated salaries and perks in at least 10 key government industries including Chashmal (Electric) and Mekorot (Water).
My friend related in his email how an Israel delegation had traveled to Washington, D.C. to pitch the proposed American package of $10 Billion in loan guarantees only to be sent packing by American Jews in powerful places in the Administration who, in effect told them, "Come back and see us when you have your 'fiscal act together' and when you can show us budgetary discipline and can justify granting of the loan guarantees."
He then writes his friends to support the revolution by writing their US House Representatives and US Senators stating that future economic and military aid to Israel should be tied to Israel's undertaking serious economic reforms.
Now, while I agree with my friend that real, serious economic reform is mandated, and in achieving this reform, the protexia, the Hamulas, the bloated salaries of the priviledged, elite few in the Histadrut and these 10 major government industries must be severely curtailed and closely regulated, I objected to my friend's means of achieving the goal on what I felt was historic and Halachic principle. His means of achieving the goal appears as a modern-day "telling of tales to Rome."
But no sooner had I spoken to him and given him what I felt was Mussar, I then read a report in one of Israel's weekly newspapers which indicates that the Chareidim are embarking on the very same tactic in taking their fight with Netanyahu, Lapid and the Sharon government to the US in order to preserve their family subsidies and institutional funding, all of which have been cut to the very bone. And the Chareidim, according to this report, are undertaking this mission "...to raise public awareness... regarding the unprecendented assualt against the Chareidi sector in Israel... under the guidance of the Gedolai Yisroel..." The report continues that "the delegation heads will explain that the Israeli Government is currently finalizing a so-called economic program that consists not merely of budget alterations to save the economy, as Finance Minister Netanyahu claims, but also a directed campaign to squeeze the Chareidi sector on all sides."
According to the report, the message that the delegation plans to present to key political figures in Washington is that "The Israeli Government is seeking to promote malicious political moves in the name of the Americans, undoubtedly without their knowledge."
The report further states that "the delegates will explain that the Chareidi sector was compelled to turn directly to political figures in Washington because the Israeli Government is presenting the economic plan to the public as a plan imposed upon it by the U.S. in order to receive loan guarantees... Netanyahu has made made direct references to National Security Advisor Rice, who praised the plan, and he claims the government will only grant Israel loan guarantees if the plan is approved and carried out in full."
The report concludes by saying that representatives of the U.S. Chareidi community will appeal to "...key figures in Washington to make their voices heard... based on a recongnition that the U.S. Government seeks to act with fairness toward minorities ... and that following the meetings they believe that national government leaders and legislators on Capitol Hill will clarify to the Israeli Government that they do not want to see a specific sector harmed by the budget cuts and ... that their names not be used to promote... a campaign to wage a 'cultural war' against the Chareidi sector."
As an Oleh Chadash, we new olim are victimized as the protexia, patronage Hamulas, the self-interests of the Communist Histadrut labor union and bloated salaries and perks, amounting to legalized embezzlement, key government industries ride our backs, just as with the Chareidim, as the Sharon Government speaks "with forked-tongue" to Olim Chadashim. Arik Sharon calls for 1,000,000 new Olim within the next 10 years while the priviledged, the favored and the protected look at us with utter disdain, disrespect and often outright hatred. They stand in the way of our achieving productive parnossa based upon fairness -- the best person for the job. And now this Government blatantly violates, by it's current "reform" moves, its covenant with Olim Chadashim, the Oleh Chadash basket of benefits, at every turn; reporting of foreign income, elimination of VAT discounts on purchase of automobiles and major appliances and now the elimination of mortgage grants substituting low interest loans for 150% of the amount of the grant.
With the actions now being taken by the Chareidim, seemingly with the seal of approval from the Gedolai Yisroel, I find myself in both a Halachic and philosophical quandry. Frankly, I think we deserve a full explanation of the Psak Halacha of the Gedolim enabling such a delegation to turn to Washington for redress. And once having the benefit of the reasoning behind this P'sak, how does it apply to others of us whose suffering is similar to the Chareidim? And why weren't other sectors, such as Olim Chadashim, included in a broader delegation in ascending on Washington to appeal as the Chareidim are, in broader, more effective context where the full extent of Israeli Government misrepresentation of the facts regarding both the so-called "economic reform" and the true terms behind the proposed American package of $10 Billion in loan guarantees can be laid out in clear view of Klal Yisrael?
After Bibi's apparent "blink" in the eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with Comrade Peretz just before Pesach, it seems more obvious that the advantaged will continue to be advantaged, that the so-called "reform measures" will not affect government industries and the continued bloated, extorted salaries and perks as well as this package will be the monkey on backs of masses of Israeli taxpayers, with Chareidim and Olim Chadashim among others "paying the piper" once again.
Bibi failed under pressure as Prime Minister at Chevron and at Wye as well as in reforming the economy. Now, as Finance Minister, let's hope that he succeeds big-time and with the economic chips on the line. But, to do so, he's got to reign-in the Histadrut elitists with their bloated salaries and perks, the huge secular university tuition subsidies and the public sector bureaucratic seniority system which fosters cruelty and insensitivity to the needs of the citizenry which they supposedly serve. He's got to force the Histadrut to bite the bullet, rather than come hat-in-hand to the Government demanding a bailout, and deal with it's own mismanagement of it's pension plans which have resulted in a short-fall of 173 billion NIS.
Moshe Burt, a former Philadephian, is an Oleh Chadash of three
years, a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh and a commentator on events in Eretz
Yisrael. He is founder of the Sefer
Torah Recycling Network.
Sefer Torah, Sifrei Torah, Sefer Torah Recycling, Sefer Torah repairs, Torah scrolls, Torah Scroll Restoratation, Sefer Torah restoration, Sefer Torah transfer, Israel, Eretz Yisrael, Mokom Torah, Mekomot Torah, chessed, mitzvah, tzedaka, donations, raise funds, Shuls, Israel, Eretz Yisroel, Yeshivas, Yeshivot, Israeli Yeshivot, chizuk, Ahavat Yisroel, Sofer, Sofrim, Sofrus, Synagogues, Synagogues in Israel, Beit Knesset, Israeli Batei Knesset, Israeli cities, Israeli towns, needy locations in Israel, Memorials in Israel Mission: Acquires donations of Sifrei Torah and raises funds to restore them to a Kosher state for transfer to needy locations in Israel.