Tax curse...

Sir, – In your July 26 paper there was a report on the front page headlined “Tax hike, budget cuts to pass despite opposition.” I think the more correct headline would have been “Death of social justice.”

This government has just undone any good that was accomplished in the past year.

This is especially bad after the op-ed piece “Where’s the money” (Think About It, July 9), which said ministries and state agencies were owed some NIS 125 billion and the country’s “black economy” was thought to be NIS 200b. per annum.

Attacking those figures would easily raise the money the government needs.

The British prime minister has said it is morally wrong to avoid taxes. Where are those who show us what is morally correct? Why do they keep silent and not denounce the actions of those who avoid paying debts and taxes?

MICHAEL H. DAVIS
Rishon Lezion

...except on sin

Sir, – Regarding “Taxes raised on cigars, cigarettes and beer” (July 25), this is a sensitive issue because it hits poor people the most. However, it might also help them opt for better, healthier lives.

There are a few more products that should qualify for a “sin tax”: white flour, sugar, junk food, soft drinks and mineral water, imported foods, all meat, fish and milk products, cars, gasoline, air conditioners, light bulbs, plastic, revealing clothing, cosmetics, perfumes, computer games and TV sets (except for use by the home-bound).

A popular revolt could be prevented by canceling taxes on or even subsidizing the following: whole grain products, beans, locally grown produce, public transportation, hiking and biking equipment, desert coolers, neon lighting, respectable clothing, soaps and shampoos, non-virtual games and toys, sport and fitness activities, and real books, magazines and newspapers.

I guess everyone can agree – except where it concerns our own sins.

MOSHE-MORDECHAI VAN ZUIDEN
Jerusalem

Sir, – I must say I won’t shed many tears over raising taxes on certain “sinful” items – for me, personally, these taxes will mean nothing since I don’t use any of the items affected (but I’m sure there are many, many people who are grinding their teeth). However, it seems to me a good thing since it will provide much-needed funds for the Treasury.

Now, if the government would only do something about the haredi young men (and Arabs) do not serve our country. All I hear and read is how important it is to equalize the burden.

When is this government going to do something?

LEONARD ZURAKOV
Netanya

Pointing fingers

Sir, – I know that everyone is castigating the prime minister for the increase in VAT and cuts in ministry budgets (“VAT set to rise at least 1%,” July 25). However, to me it is very obvious that he is preparing for all eventualities, including war with Syria and Iran.

Wars are very costly, as we all know, and somehow have to be paid for. We are probably also receiving special arms from the United States, which are of course not being given to us but are purchased. The prime minister is no fool and therefore anticipates what must be anticipated.

The Israeli public will grumble but the increase in the VAT is necessary. Israel stands isolated and somehow must continue to be able to cope with the horrendous Syrian conflict at its very doorstep, the terrible nature of the Iranian threat and the constant marches of the social justice groups, all while increasing productivity. This agenda faces no other country in the world.

No one wants higher taxes but no one should be in the position of having to balance out the international and domestic situations we have now. We must tighten our belts for the good of all.

TOBY WILLIG
Jerusalem

Sir, – Regarding the government’s recommendation to raise the VAT, Shaul Mofaz’s disgusting comment is matched by your decision to place it as a sub-headline on your front page.

Shame on both you and Mofaz.

ELLIOT MILGRAM
Nahariya

Onerous yoke

Sir, – Seth J. Frantzman’s expose of the attempt to further raise the tariff walls that keep olive oil imports from competing with domestic production (“Drowning in olive oil... prices,” Terra Incognita, July 25) is a microcosmic example of the cartel cronyism that has infected virtually every area of the Israeli food distribution system.

Armed with a license for the most shameless price gouging ever witnessed, the perpetrators of this outrage have turned Israel into arguably the most expensive basic commodities market in the developed world while helping push 35 percent of our population below the poverty line.

Being a lifelong advocate of free-market price determination, the thought of price controls is anathema. But absent some real self-restraint on the part of the cartels and/or a significant lowering of the tariff obstacles to overseas competition, I can see no other way of lifting this onerous yoke from the neck of our people.

BILL MEHLMAN
Efrat

By the way, Mitt

Sir, – Mitt Romney will be visiting Israel soon (“Romney takes campaign abroad for a week,” July 25). Do the country’s leaders have the chutzpah to ask him to denounce his church (Latter Day Saints) for retroactively baptizing Jews murdered during the Holocaust? As an American Jew who lives in Utah I feel it’s outrageous that the Mormon church has baptized Jews.

PETER LITVACK
Salt Lake City

Matters of taste

Sir, – You used nearly a third of a page to feature a silly article about someone who tried to make jellyfish edible (“Vengeance against jellyfish turns out to be more rubbery than sweet,” July 25).

The writer admitted that jellyfish were prohibited under the laws of kashrut – this on a page dedicated to the French apology for the wartime roundup of Jews, an appeal by the widows of the murdered Munich athletes and the restoration of awareness of the Jewish past in Poland and Slovakia.

Those items related to Jews who suffered because they were Jews, and who were Jews because they and their ancestors adhered to Jewish customs and traditions.

Had the piece been printed on the first of April it might have got a laugh but during the nine days leading up to Tisha Be’Av it was offensive and in bad taste.

CYRIL ATKINS
Beit Shemesh

Street signs

Sir, – With Britain’s latest insult to Jerusalem (“Israel sparring with BBC for right to have capital listed on Olympic site,” July 22), surely the time has come to consider renaming the capital’s second most important thoroughfare.

King George Street was imposed on Jerusalem during the mandate era and commemorates the irrelevant fact that George V was Britain’s monarch at the time that Gen. Allenby conquered the city.

The continued use of the name is aggravated by the fact that George V himself made no contribution to society. He sired a son who was a Nazi sympathizer and a great-grandson who thought it fun to dress up in a Nazi uniform.

His granddaughter, the present monarch, has visited many tin pot dictatorships and also invited the Butcher of Bagdad to tea. However, Israel is not and has never been on her itinerary.

Surely the time has come to submit a name with historical Jewish significance that would remove the stain from this important byway. Yitzhak Shamir Street, perhaps?

LOUIS GARB
Jerusalem

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