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 " 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.


Proper economic reform requires fairness and a complete disassembling  of the current economic heirarchy and reassembling a more effective,  fairer and incentive-laden heirarchy and tax structure.   When we  will see incentive to hire Jews, not Arabs or foreign employees,  we'll see great positive changes in Israel's tax coffers.  When  Bituach Leumi funds are reallocated in such a way as to serve as  incentives to employ Jews, we'll see a drastic cut in unemployment.  When we see a closing of the great disparity between the average  college tuition subsidy of $8,000 per year and  $1,500 per year per  Yeshiva student or Kolel member, we'll see the budget deficit  dwindle.  And when the bloated salaries and perks in key government  industries including Chashmal and Mekorot are brought to a closer  parity with salaries of comparable jobs in other sectors, we may even  see a surplus and the day in which Israel finally weans herself from  the American bosom.




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.




orbwebs The Sefer Torah Recycling Network is privileged to be hosted by , the fast-growing Web Host of Jewish Religious organizations, business and e-commerce sites.

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.