The geometry of government in Israel

The family is the main edge of Israeli society; once it is broken, society – and the state – will no longer exist.

August 31, 2011 20:58
4 minute read.
Protesters rally for social justice in Tel Aviv

TA protest rally 311. (photo credit: Tamir Kalifa)


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The triangle of family–livelihood–state is familiar to all. In an orderly society, each of the triangle’s edges supports and is supported by the other two, and together create a stable structure. This triangle, the essence of our stability as a society, can become jeopardized by various distortions, which may even cause its disintegration.

In Israel, the government tends to distort this triangle at every opportunity, and as if by a pre-written system, all the struggles aimed at preserving this triangle end with additional distortion. Thus, the state becomes the longest and heaviest edge of the triangle, which thus becomes a right-angled triangle, under which the family and livelihood edges collapse.

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The best example that illustrates the metaphor is the recent struggle for the preservation of the home – the recent social protest expressing the cry of the broken edges. But in our system, the hypotenuse edge wildly overshadows the other two, and tramples them even more to the ground. A clear example is that of the refund of childcare expenses, which surprised everyone in 2009, when Vered Peri was awarded a Supreme Court verdict stating that her childcare expenditures for the time she spends at work should be a recognized deduction for tax purpose. However, this verdict, representing the family edge, received “special treatment” by the Treasury and state that “drowned” the benefits due in a sea of words. Thus, again, the state’s edge overpowered that of its citizens.

So how did the Treasury succeed in fooling everybody? This case illustrates the asymmetric division of the Israeli socio-economic system, in which corporations and the state itself are given priority over people. Even when the legal system “does wrong” in the eyes of the state, it gets overruled by various ingenuous bypasses initiated by the state – because geometry is geometry…

The case of Vered Peri is a reflection of the Israeli government’s distorted legal-economic system, in which citizens are practically squeezed dry by the establishment, without any social logic or fairness, even at the cost or jeopardizing the judicial system in general and Supreme Court in particular. The existential danger to the state is immediate and clear, since there can be no state without people, and Israel – very sadly – prefers economic corporations to whoever pays the price of his or her own existence, such as parents who raise children.

It is necessary to implement a system that respects the family edge of the triangle, and the case of Vered Peri is an example of a system disregard for any pillars of society that wish to respect the family. The Supreme Court approved, but the State and the Treasury disregarded that ruling. A system that does not respect the family will bring the dissolution of the tri-partite balance, since there cannot be a state without families and citizens.

The family is the building block of any human society. It seems that the state is operating like the master who gradually reduced his horse’s meals, happy that he was thereby saving money – until the horse died of starvation, leaving the master to wonder why the horse died after he had gotten him used to not eating…

The state has been gradually cutting down expenditures on its citizens’ welfare, straining their ability to survive.

Harsh security events in Israel these days have hit many families. The state’s conduct may force these families to encounter an indifferent bureaucratic system.

I am anxious about the effect the security argument may have on the real and important voice of protest. The state has always used the security argument to quiet voices opposed to its actions, since one cannot cry out about ‘mere’ injustice when blood is being spilled.

In the case of refunding childcare expenditures through income tax deductions, the state disregarded the judicial branch, and the ‘Treasury Boys’ found a ruling-bypassing solution in the form of a cruel “force majeure” – the recent security events. However, the present social protest cannot be put down. The basic idea remains the same: power, money and control are the gist of the system - the system that turns an equilateral triangle into a right-angled triangle, in which the power of the hypotenuse – the longest edge –threatens to break the other two.

Don’t the representatives of the state have families? Don’t they understand that they are cutting down the Israeli family’s ability to survive? Don’t they understand that they are breaking the backbone of Israeli society?

The family is the main edge of Israeli society; once it is broken, society – and the state – will no longer exist.

The writer is the founder and executive director of New Family.

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