By GREER FAY CASHMAN
Charles Dickens, when writing his ever-popular Oliver Twist, coined the phrase 'The law is an ass'. Indeed it is, because laws are made by committees, some or all of the members of which seek to amend or approve the original proposal until what was once a good idea becomes a stupidity without anyone seeming to notice the progressive degeneration.
Although it did not originate in this part of the world, another popular maxim defines a camel as a horse designed by a committee. It's more than appropriate when examining some of Israel's bureaucratic tangles, such as those related to the citizenship of converts, children of Israeli expatriates, foreign-born, non-Jewish widows or widowers of deceased Israelis and children born in Israel to foreign workers. The case of the Swedish immigrant that was featured in The Jerusalem Post on December 23 is so appalling that anyone contemplating aliya might be deterred after reading it.
The stupidity in Israeli legislation goes far beyond citizenship status. There are truly idiotic and archaic laws in almost every sphere, and no one seems to be examining the system to amend such laws or have them nullified.
WHEN MK Michael Eitan was appointed a minister in the present government, there were no portfolios left to give him - so a new one was invented and he became Israel's first minister for the improvement of government services.
There is no doubt that they needed improving, nor is there any doubt that he applied himself to the task, with the result that there is greater efficiency and a more positive attitude toward the ordinary citizen in some government offices. But Eitan is also a former two-time chairman of the Knesset Constitution Law and Justice Committee, and remained a member of that committee in the last Knesset.
Thus it would have been worthwhile to give his ministry the additional responsibility of examining laws which are draconian, illogical and/or unjust. His ministry could then have a special web site to which victims of the legal system could send complaints that would be sifted by retired judges and law students, sorted and reworded to make it easy for the ministry to examine them.
Such a ministry would also give the public much more confidence in the government, because its findings and proposals would be reported in the media, making it clear that the government is indeed trying to do something to improve the quality of its citizens' lives.
It is impossible to estimate the accumulated waste of time and money, and the psychological damage, that can be attributed to needless bureaucratic hassles resulting from legal absurdities.
While the government continues to do little or nothing about this, the law will remain an ass.
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