1. Economic independence
Back in the 1950s, when Israel did not have the money to pay for even fuel and wheat, David Ben-Gurion was already talking about economic independence. He had vision.
In the early 1970s, the state's leadership played around with plans to achieve economic independence. The idea was to increase exports rapidly in order to pay for all the imports and do away with the need to go with our hands outstretched, looking for loans and handouts.
In 2005, Israel reached the point at which exports - combined with the grants provided by the United States, Germany and world Jewry - equal imports. Does this mean we have achieved economic independence?
The deficit in the balance of payments no longer has the same meaning it did in the past because the currency exchange rates are free, so the balance of payments will always be balanced. If the United States, Germany and world Jewry were to stop sending $4 billion a year, there would be a lack of dollars and therefore a devaluation, increasing exports and decreasing imports, creating a new balance in the balance of payments.
The problem is that during such a process, interest rates would climb, growth would slow and the state would be forced to raise taxes to cover its expenditures. In other words, the standard of living would decrease if Israel did not get those billions.
But the grants are only part of the picture. One must remember the U.S. political support that prevents UN sanctions, its military support that gives the Israel Defense Forces its edge and its scientific support. In its 58th year of independence - and it is not nice to say so - Israel is light years away from being independent. It is nothing more than a U.S. satellite.
2. Ultra-Orthodox independence
Ehud Olmert gave in to Shas, which will be joining the government without committing to the convergence plan. But that's not the only capitulation. Olmert also gave up the greatest accomplishment of Ariel Sharon's government - making child allowances equal for all children.
An ultra-Orthodox family with 12 children and two parents who don't work is not "a family blessed with children," as the vernacular traditionally puts it. It's a family with "many children." It's a family that chooses to live in poverty; its children are born into poverty and will remain poor their entire lives. They won't learn mathematics, English or sciences, so they won't be able to earn a decent livelihood; they will forever be beholden to the politicians of Shas and United Torah Judaism; they will forever be dependent upon them and, therefore, forever vote for them.
Instead of the process of equating child allowances by 2009, as the law states, Olmert has agreed to halt the process altogether. His only achievement was in the fact that every child born to a family will get NIS 148 a month, irrespective of the number of children in a family. Under this system, say budget officials, but in another 12 years, by 2018, the allowances will be on a par with one another.
But it is sad to see how the treasury's budgets department is simply tricking us. After all, everyone knows that over the next 12 years, there will be plenty of coalition crises, and Shas' price will go up - so the equalization won't take place. Hence, the ultra- Orthodox child (from the fourth onward) will be more equal than the first, second and third secular child.
3. Total defense
Yisrael Asher Vales, of the ultra-Orthodox community, was released a few days ago from police custody after Jerusalem burned for a few days from demonstrations against his arrest. Vales' baby son was hospitalized suffering from hemorrhaging in the brain, bruising and signs of bites and violence. After a few days, the baby died. In a police interrogation, Vales confessed to abusing the baby since its birth because of his disgust with a birth defect in the child's neck.
None of this prevented eight rabbis from the Lithuanian ultra-Orthodox community from declaring that Vales is innocent. The ultra-Orthodox press wrote that Vales is not guilty. Billboards in Mea She'arim called on the public to help with donations to finance Vales' defense. "The fact is," they say, "his wife didn't leave him." And another fact: "Everyone says that he is a good man, so he couldn't have done it."
4. Total hatred
Attorney Avigdor (Dori) Klagsbald lost control of his vehicle and smashed into a car carrying Yevgenia Wexler and her 6-year-old son Arthur, who were killed on the spot. It is not clear why this happened. Police investigations have found that Klagsbald was not drunk or under the influence of drugs. But it is practically impossible to find a good word about him in the secular press. The opposite is the case. Most of the reporters competed over who would besmirch him the most. They only complained about one thing - that he cannot be charged with murder or manslaughter, only with negligent homicide. So, instead of spending the rest of his days in prison, he'll only serve a single miserable year.
Klagsbald is a wealthy man, and therefore hated. He has a fancy jeep, so he is guilty. If you run into trouble, it is best to be a member of the ultra-Orthodox sector, and not one of the man-eating seculars.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now