Open letter to PM Netanyahu from US immigrant
Yes, Mr. Netanyahu, I am a self-employed dentist. I have been financially hurt by this situation your government has created, to the point I will soon lose my clinic.
PM Netanyahu at cabinet meeting Photo: Pool / Emil Zalman / Haaretz
Mr. Prime Minister, I have something you want. My vote. To me, my vote is a
precious thing, and I will not part with it impulsively or
Usually I decide quite easily whom to vote for, yet this
time, it is much more difficult.
I have Right-of-Center security views,
which obviously eliminates many choices.
I also strongly believe in
voting for large parties, as I believe that it is vital for government
stability. I am also a so-called “modern orthodox” Jew. and in past elections my
choice thus was between the large party in the block, the Likud, and the party
that most closely fit my views on the Jewishness of the state, the NRP, or its
In the past, the belief in the large party won out, and I
always voted Likud. In addition to concerns about party size, my reasons had to
do with quality of government and broadness of party platforms.
and its successors have emphasized security and Judea and Samaria, and have
ignored social and economic issues.
I want a government that is primarily
concerned with good government, in addition to the usual security
The Likud is supposed to be a liberal party economically,
believing in free competition and minimal government interference in economic
issues. In the past, you, Mr. Netanyahu, in your previous positions as prime
minister and finance minister, made great strides in leading Israel away from
it’s Socialist past and towards an open economy.
However in the past four
years, amid a world financial crisis – where prudent government spending is
considered so important – can you say you have kept this philosophy? In a time
of world financial uncertainty, where Israel’s financial growth has shrunk and
tax revenues have fallen significantly short of forecasts, your government has
increased government spending on social issues.
I can give two examples
where you have done this: Free nursery schools and free dentistry for children,
for all Israeli residents.
We all know that Israel has a serious poverty
issue, and that those two reforms have helped the poor.
I commend the
Education Ministry for realizing that this reform would have a deleterious
effect on the owners of private nursery schools.
During the same week
that the government decision was made, the Education Ministry placed
announcements in all of the Friday newspapers informing the nursery-school
owners what they needed to do to be included in the government
Yet, I question whether it is necessary for public funds to
finance this across the board, or whether it would have been more fiscally
prudent to limit the help to those who truly need it, especially with current
LET’S LOOK at the government program that provides
free dentistry for children, currently up to age 12. This program is the pet
project of Deputy Health Minister Yaacov Litzman of United Torah
The greatest beneficiaries of this program are haredi and Arab
children, who make up the majority of this age group in the general population.
They are also the most poverty-stricken populations in Israeli
Here again, I question the necessity of public funds being used
across the board.
In addition, here unfortunately, I have nothing
positive to say about the Ministry responsible, the Health Ministry. First we
must remember, that officially, you, Mr. Netanyahu, are the Health
Two-and-a-half years ago, free dentistry was offered to all
Israeli residents under the age of eight. The age of coverage has since been
raised to 12.
This treatment was only made available via the kupot
cholim. The self-employed dentists – some 85 percent of all the dentists in the
country – were excluded from the program.
The government, under your
leadership, made a decision to allow for the establishment of a Dental Health
Fund, which would be the mechanism that would allow those self-employed
dentists, who so wished, to work with the program. The Health Ministry never
established this fund.
For two-and-a-half years, self-employed dentists
have been prevented from treating their patients. To put it bluntly, the Health
Ministry has taken away work from private dentists and given it to the kupot
cholim. In my opinion, this is a major scandal. In addition, dentists working at
kupot cholim clinics are grossly underpaid. Dentists treating children receive
NIS 30 a filling, and are not paid for exams at all.
Yes, Mr. Netanyahu,
I am a self-employed dentist. I have been financially hurt by this situation your
government has created, to the point I will soon lose my clinic.
first, I solely blamed the Health Ministry and Rabbi Yaakov Litzman for this,
but after over a year of letter writing and telephone calls, to all of the
different sectors of government, I must put some of the blame on you. You were
unaware for two years of the unfair discrimination against private dentists.
Remember, you are the health minister.
I wrote you letters you did not
read. I contacted your office, which did not respond. In June 2012 when you did
find out, being told by Minister of Sports and Culture Limor Livnat at a cabinet
meeting, you responded angrily and transferred the responsibility to your Chief
of Staff Harel Locker. My letters to him and his office have been ignored. You
gave him a month to take care of it, and seven months have passed, with no
Is this indicative of a fair and quality government? There has
been a lot of criticism of the functioning of the Health Ministry in the press
in the past few years. The decision to give the responsibility of such an
important office – to a sectoral party with obvious bias to its own electorate –
was in my opinion a serious mistake.
United Torah Judaism is perhaps the
most significant cause of poverty in Israel, along with Shas.
intend, Mr. Netanyahu, to give these parties similar responsibilities in your
next government? So you see, Mr. Netanyahu, I have a difficult decision ahead of
The writer is an American-trained dentist with a practice in Modi’in
and Modi’in Illit.