Beersheba bank tragedy390(3)).
(photo credit: Rotem Regev)
Anyone who’s had to deal with the Israeli banking system has probably felt like
exploding in anger at some point. Between the exorbitant fees for every little
transaction, the long lines and the general philosophy of ‘You don’t have an
alternative, you have to deal with us so we can do whatever the hell we want,’
Israeli banks are a well-documented horror story that can leave the most
mild-mannered client on the verge of hysteria.
Bank Hapoalim is typical
of the rich-get-richer-while-the-working-class-suffers scenario, with net
profits in 2012 of NIS 2.54 billion.
Its CEO Zion Kenan earned NIS 8.1
million last year and the bank’s chairman Yair Seroussi earned NIS 8.39 million,
some of it on the backs of the salaried customers who are run through the
financial wringer at every turn, until they are dried up.
are certainly obscene, but in no way do they excuse or provide any motive
whatsoever for the atrocity committed
Monday at the Bank Hapoalim Jabotinsky
Street branch in Beersheba.
However, anyone who has dug himself a
financial hole – with suffocating overdraft interest rates, increasing housing
costs and price increases insuring the continuation of the downbound train –
will probably have an snippet of understanding of what might have gone through
Itamar Alon’s mind when the bank apparently rejected his appeal to extend his
credit line for NIS 6,000 to help pay his mortgage.
A friend noted on
Monday that when she sought some mortgage release during a tough stretch a
couple years ago, she was told by her bank, “We’re a business. We’re not
here to help you.”
Indeed, a business it is. And apparently, in their
“eyes on the prize” profit-making mode, there is no room for sentimentality or
Without entering into the increasingly disturbing trend of
licensed carriers of firearms turning them on innocent victims, it’s becoming
apparent that our society is fraying at its seams. It’s more difficult, if not
impossible, for families to make ends meet.
And the safety net that is
supposed to help those in need is full of holes. The social protest movement and
the Yair Lapid phenomenon is an obvious response to the gaping problem, but is
it a case of too little, too late?
A recent report released by the
Jerusalem-based Taub Center for Social Policy warned of the alarming trend,
saying that Israel “is a country brimming with outstanding potential. At the
same time, it is advancing along very steady multi-decade socioeconomic
trajectories that are simply unsustainable for the future.”
people, like Itamar Alon and his victims, that future arrived yesterday.