It’s Time for a Tax Revolt in Israel

The ultra-Orthodox and settlers are being pampered with our money. Perhaps there’s a point where it’s a good deed to steal from a government that is itself a thief.

Pogrow lives in Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem. Below, three ultra-orthodox men walk in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
Olivier Fitoussi

The new government sworn in last week isn’t providing us with a one-day grace period, so why would we grant the government the customary 100 days?

From its first day, it is doing its best to exploit us. I understand that paying taxes is not some kind of voluntary program. They don’t ask you what your preferences are, where you would like the money that they collect from you in taxes to be devoted. It’s only the wealthiest among us who get special consideration so they can get that much richer. Since it’s impossible to be exempt from paying tax, it’s only those who have bank accounts in Switzerland or the Virgin Islands that get something of a break.

And still, what happens when a government launches a major offensive on its entire population of citizens or subjects? Aren’t we then reserved the right to self-defense? And what’s supposed to happen when government ministers are a recalcitrant lot, friends of thieves who love bribes and go after them? Does the average citizen still have to go along just because that’s the rule? Perhaps there comes a time when it’s a good deed to steal from a government that is itself a thief.

We’ve been beset by thieves. They are robbing us blind. Recently the cost to the treasury of the agreements between Prime Minister Benjamin

Netanyahu’s Likud and the other parties to the coalition was reported – about 9 billion shekels (over $2 billion) of our good money. They were signed in the presence of both sides. It was only the country’s 8 million citizens who were not called upon to participate in the occasion. It’s our money but it’s their word that counts. No one asked for our opinion, but we still need to pay our overlords.

Who is in favor of “supplementary funding for ultra-Orthodox institutions” (120 million shekels) along with “supplementary funding for schools that do not teach core subjects”: (75 million), as was agreed with the United Torah Judaism party, and who’s against? Who’s in favor of “strengthening national religious school education” (200 million shekels), and “increasing funding for the university in [the West Bank settlement] Ariel” (100 million), and “increasing funding for [the World Zionist Organization’s] settlement division” (50 million), and “preserving the legacy of Gush Katif,” the settlements in the Gaza Strip that were evacuated in 2005, and “funding examination of one’s Jewishness” (a combined 33 million), as was agreed to with the Habayit Hayehudi party?

Who has longer arms than the Shas party, which is deep into our pockets, pulling out whatever it can: “Restoration of the cuts in funding for the yeshivas,” “applying the law permitting funding for unofficial ultra-Orthodox educational institutions to local governments,” “construction of religious buildings and ritual baths,” “additional transportation for [Shas’] Ma’ayan Hahinuch Hatorani educational system,” “eliminating the requirement that a couple engage in employment, to the extent that they can, to qualify for government housing assistance” (involving hundreds of millions, but who’s counting?), and so forth.

And each Knesset member will get a 20 million shekel credit as a personal grant, pocket money for whatever he or she wants to waste it on, to be given out to relatives and the party, a license to bribe. Shas party leader Arye Dery, Habayit Hayehudi’s Naftali Bennett and Yaakov Litzman of United Torah Judaism are on the receiving end, while Netanyahu doles it out as if he brought the money from home. And Kulanu’s Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon presides over this and keeps mum.

This is our net income that is being grabbed away. If I only could, right now I would evade paying the taxes required by law, but I, for my sins, am a retired government worker, so I must ask the authorities, who will decline my plea – they will continue to deduct my taxes up front. On the other hand, many other people can use tricks to evade them, and not to save money. Indeed, we would be willing to pay even more, but on condition that our children are educated to be enlightened human beings and not ignorant Jews. I too would give my share.

I’ve thrown out an idea here. I haven’t been hasty in suggesting it, even when all of us have had to finance Bibi and Sara’s private expenses; and not even when we paid for the bills and the seizures of Hebron’s holy roller, the late Rabbi Levinger.

Our idea is not yet complete and I am trying to flesh it out more fully. Maybe they can set up a tax shelter in the eastern Negev for the residents of Dimona, Arad, Mitzpeh Ramon and Yeroham, following the mortifying precedent set by Israel Chemicals. And maybe you know someone, a cunning accountant or savvy tax adviser to counsel you. But don’t forget the copyright on this column when the tax revolt finally breaks out.