An open letter to MK Ran Cohen

Your bill to keep me out of the Knesset says more about you than me.

By ARKADI GAYDAMAK
July 2, 2007 19:59
4 minute read.
Arkady Gaydamak serious

Arkady Gaydamak serious 248.88. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])

 
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Hereby I wish to express my sincere personal gratitude to the 13 MKs led by Meretz MK Ran Cohen, who blocked - with their own bodies - the greatest danger Israel faces nowadays, namely, philanthropists' infiltration into the Knesset. Now we can sleep peacefully: The Gaydamak Bill has passed in preliminary reading. This bill would immortalize its initiators and become a valuable Israeli contribution to the collection of silliest laws of all nations and all times. There are many silly laws. In the US, one local law forbids exploding a nuclear device within city limits, another explicitly prohibits tying an alligator to a water pump. We now have a special law protecting the Knesset from infiltration by dangerous guys who help their neighbors in the Land of Israel. This is to stop "electoral bribing." Any Israeli citizen may run for the Knesset, be he Russian, Moroccan or Yemenite Jew, blond, brunette, redhead or bald. Even a rich bloke may enter the Knesset; unless he shares his wealth with others. If a man helped the poor, he should be kept out of the Knesset. If he donated to the IDF or Magen David Adom, he should not be allowed to darken the Knesset's doors. If he provided for the elderly and needy, if he saved children from bombardment, he has no place in the Knesset. Thus spake Ran Cohen: Only those who have done nothing for their fellow citizens may run for the Knesset. Only they are above suspicion. Only they will never bribe a voter, for they did not succumb to the temptation to share of their wealth. Bravo, Ran! Bravo, your 13 supporters! THE NATIONS of the world elect their best and brightest, their most generous, to their parliaments. Apparently, we have decided, in contradistinction, to elect the greedy and the selfish. Elsewhere, wealthy people do share their wealth with less fortunate fellow citizens. Originally this was a Jewish custom, called tzedaka. In the Jewish state, it is "prohibited." All over the world, generosity is considered to be a virtue, but in Israel, it is a fault. I WONDER whether one may be generous outside of Israel. May I help the starving people of Africa and still sit in the Knesset? May a Knesset hopeful subsidize science? Not in Israel, where it is certainly forbidden by Ran Cohen - but, say, in Brazil or in Germany? If I am not allowed to support an archeological excavation in Israel, may I spend my money on a Russian expedition in Antarctica? I may not help the new olim (it would constitute an "electoral bribe") but may I support the new yordim? The Gaydamak Bill explicitly forbids contributing to the IDF. Tell me, Ran Cohen, do you think the Knesset rather needs those who contribute to the Syrian or Iranian army, for there are no Israeli voters over there? Does the Knesset need, rather, the likes of Azmi Bishara - for Ran Cohen did not object to his election? Let us take a hard look at the new bill. Forget about "electoral bribes." As a matter of fact, the bill has several clear messages:

  • Wealthy and independent - of the establishment - Israelis are not welcome in the Knesset. Knesset seats are reserved for Ran Cohen and his chums.
  • Do not create new parties in order to influence the political situation, but work with the existing parties, including that of Ran Cohen.
  • If you wish to give money to Israel, you may not choose the deserving recipients but have to channel the money through Ran Cohen and his ilk. SOME MKS feel threatened by the remote chance of an independent philanthropist being elected to the Knesset. Such an elected member may establish a totally different, higher standard of service. An Israeli voter may learn to expect reasonable laws, just decisions, objective committees and full commitment to the well-being of Israeli society rather than to the MK's well-being. Some MKs do not even understand these words; they are used to treating the country like a milch cow, and their voters as sheep to be sheared. Israel was always blessed with philanthropists, for the Jews like to donate to the Jewish state's well-being. But their plentiful contributions rarely reached ordinary Israelis, for they had to be channeled via professional representatives of Israel. These representatives grew fat and useless on skimming donations. They did not notice that their time has run out. Their problem is not Gaydamak; the country has changed while they paid no attention. They do not understand that the world has changed; they still sit in the Knesset and pass their ridiculous bills. They care little about Israel's future, but they care a lot about their own petty futures. Ran Cohen and his groupies are right up to a point: Those who really care about Israel can't sit in the same Knesset they are entrenched in. But maybe it is Cohen who should leave the parliament? Not only would the country survive the departure of Cohen and his friends, it wouldn't even be noticed.

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