Sir, – With regard to “Lapid concedes draft budget a blow to middle
class” (May 9), the budget cuts are going to be tough to swallow, but Finance
Minister Yair Lapid could offer us a few sweeteners to help the medicine go
The biggest problem with the Israeli economy is the cost to all of
us of the monopolies that steal our money. One of the worst is the banking
system. It is overseen by the Ministry of Finance, meaning Lapid can do
something about it.
The banks are notorious for charging arcane fees for
services that banks in other countries offer for free, and offering derisive
rates on money they hold for us. We are helpless because there is no
This could be changed by establishing some simple
1. Make it easy to switch banks by making them offer
hassle-free procedures and eliminate the charge for closing an
2. Make them advertise their charges and limit fee changes to
once a year, with each bank being assigned a different date. This would force
them to be competitive or lose business.
3. Make all charges
understandable, explaining them in a language that even a politician can
The banking system is not the only monopoly that needs to be
eliminated and might not even be the worst, but fixing it would be a good
Sir, – Kol hakavod to Finance
Minister Yair Lapid for increasing taxes on cigarettes and other items. Yet the
government has not gone far enough. I think my plan could add enough revenue for
taxes to stay down.
1. Triple the taxes on tobacco.
2. Triple the
taxes on hard liquor, including arak, vodka, etc.
3. Triple the taxes on
restaurants where an average meal costs over NIS 500.
4. Catch drivers
who speed at over 150 kilometers per hour, change lanes without signaling, drive
within a meter of the car in front or text and talk on hand-held phones, and
give then huge fines.
5. Double the taxes on junk food, which is mostly
sugar and fat. (Sure, kids love it, but let it be an occasional treat, not part
of their daily diet.) Not only will we make some money, but – far more important
– we might save lives and keep people healthier and more
Sir, – Shelly Yacimovich is
absolutely right in blasting the budget proposal of Finance Minister Yair Lapid
(“Draft budget proposes 1.5 % tax increase,” May 8).
As the leader of the
opposition, that is her job.
On the other hand, what is a finance
minister to do when the situation in our nation is so precarious? He’s damned if
he does and damned if he doesn’t. So let’s not get all excited – the finance
minister has proposed a budget and many people oppose the idea.
is new? Let’s stop the shouting and see what we can do to make it somewhat
presentable and move on! LEONARD ZURAKOV
Netanya China’s plan
Sir, – China’s
Mideast peace proposal (“The new Chinese fourpoint plan,” Analysis, May 8) is
neither “new” nor “Chinese.” It merely reiterates tired, old and disingenuous
Arab proposals that are echoed by Europe, the US and numerous world powers. It
is only a method to weaken and thus destroy Israel.
Why is China jumping
into the conflict? After all, what does it have to gain materially from propping
up the weak Abbas dictatorship? Oil? The Saudis have not really allowed world
oil policy to change for that reason.
I think China sees that any and
every important government in the world has declared its support for the
Palestinian cause, so China, clearly a world leader, must do so, too. But any
increase in China’s influence or power from this announcement seems unlikely. I
think the plan represents Beijing’s assumption that it is a nation’s rite of
passage and a sign of mature leadership! Perhaps we should remind China about
the gas and oil resources that Israel might, with God’s help, soon be pumping.
Perhaps we will be willing to export it to China at lower rates if Beijing were
to express a truly new plan that supports Israel’s stable democracy rather than
birthing one more terrorist state.ROCHELLE EISSENSTAT
Israel should respond to China’s four-point plan by articulating a seven-point
plan for reducing world tensions caused by Chinese policies, as follows: 1.
Grant full freedom of the press to all Chinese media.
2. Grant full
freedom and democracy to China’s more than 1.3 billion inhabitants.
Waive all claims to the enslaved country of Tibet.
4. Waive all claims to
Taiwan and recognize its status as a sovereign state.
5. Return to Taiwan
its status as the true representative of the Chinese people at the UN.
Drop all claims to any area of the South China Sea.
7. Grant full
independence to Hong Kong.
Until China does all of this, it has no right
to dictate to other sovereign states what steps they should take to solve
problems with their neighbors.HARVEY SCHWARTZ
Jerusalem Israel as
Sir, – Regarding the reports that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told
Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel to “freeze building tenders for
government- funded housing projects in some larger West Bank settlements”
(“Livni to meet Kerry amidst rumors of a partial settlement freeze,” May 8),
please, Mr. Prime Minister, do not be enticed by the sweet nothings that US
President Barack Obama whispers in your ear.
Please do not impose another
settlement freeze. It is not worth it. It is not worth losing the support of
half the population of Israel for a big nothing. Palestinian Authority President
Mahmoud Abbas might very well sit down after a settlement freeze, but he will
stick to his demands and we will be bereft of any credibility.
Our name –
the good name of yours and the State of Israel – will be blackened because we
will not agree in the end to dividing Jerusalem. So where will the freezing of
settlements lead? It will lead to economic disaster because young couples need
homes. It will lead to contracts being in default. It will lead to less
purchasing power on behalf of the people and it will lead to no confidence in
Let Obama understand that coming to negotiations must
mean no pre-conditions. Red lines should mean red lines, and what Israel agrees
to will be upheld. But let us not be stupid.
We must be strong, resolute
and capable. Otherwise, we will be treated as an outpost – and you know exactly
what happens when outposts are demolished.THELMA SUSSWEIN
Sir, – The thought-provoking column of Judy Montagu “Meeting and
mating” (In My Own Write, May 8) hit a timely nerve in weighing up whether a
woman, finding a man attractive, can make the first move.
operative word is “can.” Indeed, research into gender differences has shown that
facilitation is a quality women have. However, being largely unaware of its
implications, seemingly it is rarely used in the “pursuit of
Skills workshops in this field are only too
Thus, the woman reluctant to propose marriage fearing that in an
argument he’d declare she was the one pushing to get married would naturally
retort that he, of his own free will, agreed to marry her! A friend of mine who
more than 50 years ago did suggest marriage received the relieved response,
“Would you really marry me? I thought all the time you preferred my cousin.”
They now have countless grandchildren.
A faint heart never won a fair
man! PESSY KRAUSZ
The writer is a psychotherapist