September 6: Bottom line

The recent demonstrations for social justice were among the most fantastic phenomena I have witnessed.

(photo credit:)
(photo credit: )
Bottom line
Sir, – The recent demonstrations for social justice were among the most fantastic phenomena I have witnessed during the 42 years I have lived in Israel (“400,000 rally for social justice across country,” September 4). They were extremely well organized, without the violence that so often accompanies such events, and allowed the people to express their grievances, not all of which were realistic and justifiable.
On the part of the government there was no attempt to suppress the demonstrations. In fact, the police were on the scene to protect the demonstrators and were applauded by them. The government also seemed responsive to the massive dissatisfaction by forming a committee to discuss the problems raised by the protesters.
All of this is democracy at its finest.
Now that the tents are being folded, how true a democracy we have will depend on what the government actually does to respond positively to the voices that have been raised, and to initiate and implement the necessary reforms. The bottom line is here and now.

Questions need to be asked
Sir, - Why does the government not reduce or abolish the VAT on basic foodstuffs? Why does it not increase direct taxes on family units with a monthly income of NIS 50,000 or more, and impose a super tax on those with monthly incomes in excess of NIS 100,000? Why does it not reduce its expenditures by reducing the number of ministries? I am not an economist, but something is wrong if a small family with two breadwinners cannot finish the month.

Sir, – Surely the cry of social justice should be replaced with “a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.” Or perhaps that is asking too much?


Sir, – As inspiring as the tent protests and marches have been, they will achieve very little.
The issues the protesters have raised are but symptoms of a graver malaise – governmental paralysis resulting from obsolete, money-squandering coalition politics that are the handiwork of indirect elections. Until such time as Israel has a twoparty system whereby the party in power, be it Left or Right, is able to enjoy the majority necessary to pursue its platform for a full term, any changes will be topical at best, and mere window dressing.
The demonstrators should narrow their demands to one thing and one thing only: an electoral system whereby MKs must be residents and representatives of specific districts, and directly accountable to their local constituents. Under such a system Israel will become a true democracy for the first time, and the pathetic reality of agenda-driven tails wagging power-hungry dogs will be a thing of the past.
Such a government would have both the durability needed to prove itself and the support of voters who know they wield the power to terminate the career of any MK who is unresponsive to his or her constituents.
The quality of our politicians would rise dramatically because people of substance will finally be tempted to enter the fray without having to serve for years as lapdogs and gofers to entrenched hacks.
It would make almost no difference whether the Left is in power or the Right. The voter will have a chance to see what the winning party can accomplish when it is given the time needed to actually pursue a policy – any policy.

Sir, – Let’s imagine for a moment that the recent demonstrations will have had a positive effect on the government. Contractors will be required to build a greater percentage of units for low-income families, more resources will be invested in the school system, and the health and welfare services are improved. It becomes clear that a democratic model indeed has merit.
It might be naive to believe, but would the Israeli example not encourage the Arab populations that are struggling to find more democratic solutions in their own countries? Perhaps we should set an example with a clear response on the part of our government.

Slavery and newspeak
Sir, – The Labor Court’s logic in issuing back-to-work orders to young doctors who quit is inscrutable (“Medical residents expect court to nix resignations,” September 4).
After seeing how the system works, these people no longer want to be physicians. That's their right. A person’s letter of resignation doesn’t become “illegal” simply because a fellow employee submitted a letter of resignation at the same time. The contracts statute explicitly says that if an employee breaches a contract you can prevent him from working for someone else, but you can’t force him to come back to work for you.
The court’s position is also duplicitous. Veteran physicians struck for nearly six months, but that didn’t warrant a back-to-work order. Now many – not even all – residents quit and the state is suddenly concerned about how this will affect the public health system.
What hypocrisy.
One marvels at the stupidity: If hundreds of residents don’t return to work or return but don’t actually do any work, what’s the state going to do? Fire them? What a great way for the court system to show its impotence.

Sir, – George Orwell must be turning in his grave. In 1984 he wrote about newspeak and double- think. This is exactly what happened with Judge Nili Arad’s ruling. She has redefined the meaning of resignation to mean strike.
When an individual resigns from his or her job but is told it’s illegal to do so, in effect this person is a slave. I find it hard to believe that not one political analyst saw fit to comment on this.
Dr. Leonid Idelman and the IMA betrayed the medical residents.
He agreed to keep them at the level of slave wages. At least in the Histadrut members can vote on a contract.
Idelman should resign. I believe that the residents should resign from the IMA and form their own organization. They should also continue to submit their resignations on an individual basis until they are accepted.

Our own doing
Sir, – Louis René Beres’s “A hard look at what we must not allow” (Comment & Features, September 4) is a catalogue of unimaginable horrors. This scenario would be the result of Israel not taking responsibility for its own security, for having no faith in the country’s strength to fight for what is right.
Sixty-three years since our state was established with much blood and tears, we are still afraid to speak out lest we upset those we call friends.

Sir, – Louis René Beres wrongly attributes the lines “This is the dead land/This is cactus land...”
to T.S. Eliot’s great poem “The Waste Land.” In fact, they are from the poet’s “The Hollow Men,” another great poem.

No incentive
Sir, – Ex-chief of General Staff Dan Halutz says we should negotiate with Hamas, noting it is “not much different...regarding terror activities” than the PLO of the Oslo Accords era (“Former chief of IDF General Staff says Israel should talk to Hamas,” September 4).
Considering the total and utter failure of everything resulting from that misbegotten move, I would like to point out to Halutz that this is not, in fact, a positive incentive for negotiation.

Ramat Beit Shemesh