While in normal diseases foreign elements like bacteria and viruses attack our bodies, in autoimmune diseases the body attacks itself. The immune system, which is supposed to protect us from danger, treats regular cells as foreign and dangerous cells that have to be destroyed. The immune system's attack on our bodies' vital systems is likely to be disastrous. For reasons that are unclear, the sophisticated mechanism that is supposed to protect us suddenly endangers our very existence.
It's hard to find a more suitable metaphor to describe Israel's situation. It's as if the government and authorities have contracted an incurable autoimmune disease. The safety nets that are supposed to get us out of trouble have themselves become risk factors. Instead of defending us in times of trouble, they attack us. Instead of halting our fall, they accelerate it.
There are too many examples to count. The heartrending case of Moshe Silman's self-immolation drew attention to a common phenomenon: The National Insurance Institute receives so much money from us to help us in times of need, but it fails to do its job. The hand is quick to collect but the fist is closed tight when it's time to help those in need. They have to undergo the hell of being treated with suspicion and facing bureaucratic mazes; sometimes even their possessions are confiscated.
Moreover, according to reports, the NII transferred to the state a whopping NIS 180 billion from the funds it collects from us. Thus, instead of acting as our safety net, it attacks us and serves as the Finance Ministry's safety net.
A similar and no less worrisome phenomenon took place with public housing. Tens of thousands of apartments that were earmarked for weak communities were sold. The billions of shekels went straight to the Housing Ministry and Jewish Agency instead of buying new apartments for people in need or helping them with rent. Thus, the mechanism that was supposed to help communities in distress identified them as enemies and abandoned them.
The productive middle class, the state's source of vitality, also was identified as a threatening entity that must be destroyed. This attack was diagnosed accurately by the leaders of the social protest movement and their supporters. Just as in an autoimmune disease, which springs from something internal, the state fights against itself and its vital mechanisms and endangers its existence without any outside help.
The same diagnosis can explain the pathological attitude toward the ultra-Orthodox. The state's stipends and draft exemptions for yeshiva students rewards their absence from the labor force and hard work. Many Haredim who want to work and pay taxes don't because of the corrupt system in which the state fights against itself. The strange alternatives being proposed to the Tal Law on exemptions from military service - that Haredim should be drafted at 26 to do national service or army service - will provide another channel for sending giant sums to the Haredi state that will hasten the impoverishment and end of the Israeli state.
It's natural that if a country is suffering from an autoimmune disease, its prime minister will show similar symptoms. Benjamin Netanyahu doesn't have outside enemies threatening his term of office. But he has a determined internal enemy named Benjamin Netanyahu. His conduct since the dirty trick of getting Kadima to join the government, of dissolving the Plesner committee and joining forces with the Haredim, of the embarrassing attempt to buy certain Kadima MKs, can only be interpreted as a violent attack by Netanyahu on himself.
There is usually no cure for an autoimmune disease. The doctors try to fight the symptoms but they can't prevent the body from attacking itself. Hopefully Netanyahu's attack on himself won't succeed and Israel will be saved.
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