Eretz Yisrael Time

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Sunday, December 30, 2007
Last week I wrote about the rising costs of living in Israel, how difficult it is for certain (including working) sectors to make ends meet, with the government removing all the subsidies it can, and with all the prices on our monopolistic services rising. But most importantly I wrote how you can help.

It turns out that besides the rising cost of electricity, gas, and bread, the price on yet another basic commodity will be going up.


That's right. The price for water, the most basic of necessities will be raised by 10%.

Now, I know I usually say the government is heartless and cruel.

They don’t care about how these rising costs of living affect those living on fixed incomes.

But that’s not true.

In response, the government decided this week to raise the salaries of various sectors to account for the increase in their cost of living due to the removal of bread subsidies, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and water.

The following is a partial list of salary hikes go into effect this week:

So, who says the Israeli government doesn’t take care of its own?

I am truly at a loss for words.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007
There is an advertisement running on my site for an organization called “Warm the Needy”.

They are providing a vital service to the Israeli community in the wake of what is turning into (in my opinion) one of the most financially desperate and destructive situations that the State of Israel has seen in a long time.

I don’t have links and exact statistics to cite right at this moment but it is estimated that some 20% of the population falls into the category of “poor”.

More significant was an article I read last week that said that a significant percent of these poor people are employed full-time, not sitting at home doing nothing.

I am personally a believer Milton Friedman’s capitalist philosophy. But I also believe that if we as individuals don’t help the sectors weaker than us in our own society that we weaken and damage our society as a whole.

And if people who are working full time jobs can no longer make ends meet (and I mean on the most basic, minimalist level) then Israeli society is in big trouble.

This week the government ended the subsidies and price controls on the most basic loaf of bread. Subsequently, the price of that bread went up 50% this week. Batya points this out in her post here.

The government claims it will subsidize Bituach Leumi payments with a one-time subsidy for those already qualified. What this actually means is that most people who actually need the subsidy will not be getting it, and will simply be paying more.

Since Rosh Hashanah the price of electricity was raised twice to over a 15% increase.

The price of gas (car and home heating) has been rising steadily.

In short, the cost of living in Israel has been increasing, while the salaries of the weakest sector (and perhaps everyone’s salary) have not been keeping up with all these hikes.

And while Milton Friedman would argue that it isn’t the government’s job to feed the poor, he would also agree that all the taxes, unbelievable tax laws, restrictions on competition, and bureaucracy that exists in Israel plays the most significant role in creating this situation.

The government clearly has no intention of reforming the tax and legal codes that has created and maintains this radical disparity and dangerous situation, so I think it still has the obligation to help those it is hurting.

But of course it won’t.

This leaves it to private individuals to take the initiative and help those struggling to make ends meet.

Friedman would say we are "Free to Choose" who to help and it isn't the job of the government, and he is right. But our Torah does obligate us to help.

As I began this post, “Warm the Needy” is one such organization. They help directly subsidize the rising cost of heating for poor families. They help take some of the pressure off, by supplying these families with subsidized heaters and helping pay for part of the rising electric costs.

I’ve met far too many people lately that work full time (from single parents, to families where both spouses work), yet they are having trouble paying for the basics.

If you have Ma’aser money you want to give, to where 100% of your charity will 100% go to the people that really need it, then “Warm the Needy” is certainly a place I would personally recommend and endorse.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
“Egyptian video leaked to sabotage Barak-Mubarak talks”

So let me see if I got this right. We have it on video, Egyptian soldiers assigned to prevent smuggling into Gaza have been fully assisting and participating in the smuggling into Gaza.

But instead of using this video to our advantage, the government tries to suppress it.

Now the Left is claiming that the Right is publicizing this video because it sabotages talks and relations with Egypt.

So if I understand this properly, the fact that the Egyptian government is part of the smuggling process doesn’t matter, and we should just ignore it as missiles fall on Sderot.

But the Right is evil.

Got it.

(Guest Post by Jameel).

Had an advertisement come out before the Annapolis Peace Conference that stated "Whack Ehud Olmert, Ehud Barak and Tzippi Livni to wake them up...not to split Jerusalem" the reaction would have been quick and unanimous.

The ad would probably be run for a few minutes to get the attention of the police, so they could file charges against the advertiser, the ad would be removed quickly, the right wing would be lambasted with claims of incitement to violence and murder, Yitzchak Rabin's name would be invoked, and experts would bemoan the depths of education in the country.

And yet, in today's YNET on-line Hebrew edition, the following flash animation appears, with Ehud Olmert, Education Minister Yuli Tamir and Finance Minister Roni Bar-On sleeping in bed together -- and a hammer is available for you to whack them on their heads (complete with causing cartoon stylized black eyes) to "wake them up"...

The ad is part of the campaign to end the Staff strike at Israeli Universities with a warning, "the semester is in danger" (of not happening, because of the strike).

I see nothing wrong with the ad and I find it funny.

Unfortunately, if you modify it just a tiny bit to suit an alternative (right wing) cause, it's automatically a criminal offense with dire repercussions.

So, if you find the ad on YNET -- enjoy it. At least we can whack Olmert legally under the guise of "Education."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I’ve been debating what to write about Har Homa (Homat Shmuel). My friend Lurker sent me some links that I already read, but he simply pushed me to write about it.

I drove by there the other day, when I used the new Tekoa road to avoid the Tunnel traffic (my GPS doesn’t actually recognize the road and it kept telling me in a frantic voice to turn around NOW).

It might be important to read this background article about Har Homa.

Har Homa is no different than the Old City, than Gilo, that Pisgat Ze’ev, than the City Center, than Jerusalem, than Israel.

The US government is questioning our right as Jews to legally own, build and live in Israel - period.

And unfortunately there are some in the Israeli government that are not sure about our right to live in Israel either.

I don’t know what else to write about it, other than that. It’s that simple.

The Har Homa Space Center with Rocket sitting on the Launchpad

Friday, December 14, 2007
According to an article in Arutz-7, former Israeli soldiers who served in Israeli Special Forces units are being hired left and right by Hollywoods A-listers to be their personal bodyguards.

'I've used members of the Israel Special Forces - its equivalent of the Navy Seals - when I've had a specific, high-level threat,' says Shaw, whose clients include Naomi Campbell, Michael Bolton and 50 Cent. They operate at such a heightened sense of awareness. Because of the constant conflicts there, they're always on alert; they never switch off.'
I love that line "they're always on alert; they never switch off".

You can sell anything in Hollywood.

Jameel and I will be heading out after Shabbos for our new jobs.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
See a Need. Run it over.

I don’t know why I always return back to the subject of Israeli driving, other than it is dangerous and annoying, and I’m always being forced to confront it.

I just got a phone call from my cellular carrier. They want to offer me a new service.

Whenever I am on the road, I merely call their number, tell them where I am, and they will give me important road updates and warnings.

The important updates and warnings I was told they would supply me were:
- Traffic camera locations
- Speed Traps
- Police cars
- Traffic jams

I am being 100% serious. This was their list.

So I’m thinking to myself, isn’t that typically Israeli. The service they want to sell me is the one that will help their fellow Israeli drive more dangerously, while avoiding getting caught.

See a need. Fill it.

If I were the Israeli police I would take advantage of this.

Add more cameras, make sure this cellular carrier knows about their locations.

Call up the cellular carrier and make “false” reports regarding police cars and speed traps.

They could turn around the dangerous service into something that would actually save lives.

I don't think the phone rep understood my comment when I said "Thank you, but I didn't need the service, as I generally don't speed."
Monday, December 10, 2007
This came floating to me on the internet...

I purchased a Teddy Bear this morning for the princely sum of $10.

I named him Mohammed.

This afternoon I sold him on e-Bay for $30.

My question is, "Have I made a prophet?"
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Almost 2 years ago I wrote a post (3a) that discussed as an incidental, the fact that the Palestinians steal some 30,000 Israeli cars a year.

I wondered at the time how many cars in the PA were actually stolen. As of 2 years ago 300,000 cars were stolen and brought into the PA, but only 122,000 cars were registered in PA DMV.

Which meant that some 50% of the stolen cars in the PA weren't registered (while the other 50% of stolen cars were).

There is an amusing article in YNET (of all places) that actually discusses the actual registration process where stolen cars become "legal" cars in the PA and specifically cars belonging to Palestinians government officials.

To prove his point the authors mentioned the case of Rav Ovadiah Yosef - his car was recently stolen.

Someone in our government called someone is their government and the car was returned in a few hours.
"How did they know where to find it? That’s very simple. The stolen vehicles are registered over there. The thieves pay fees. Everything is orderly."

Thursday, December 06, 2007
While the "moderate" Fatah/PA Arabs are busy denying Israel as the Jewish State, threatening to scuttle "peace talks" if we dare to defend ourselves in Gaza, to the point of openly (huh?) fighting alongside Hamas, we have Israel trying to kick the Jews out of legally owned property in Hevron.

As the facts slowly trickles out things get more and more interesting.

The JP is reporting on how the former Arab owner completely denied he sold the property, but as he was presented documentation, he changed his mind and said he planned to sell it, but then changed his mind. After it was proven he actually received the money, he then said he gave the money back, and so on. He's changed his story 3 times so far.

All the documentation prove he sold the property, the IDF, the State and the Courts know the Jews own the property legally - but who will they side with?

On the positive side, yet another incredible (Jewish, obviously) find was found in the City of David. An ancient palace. Check it out.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Chanukah is a time of celebrating the forces of Torah and Good over that of Hellenism, Assimilation, Destruction and Evil.

Two years ago I visited the “illegal”outpost of Be’erot Yonatan (named after Jonathan Pollard).

You can read about it here: At the time, one of the young ladies who was helping build this outpost asked if she could write something on JoeSettler, and so she did, which you can read here (Hebrew) and here (English).

Tonight I was called up and asked to guard the convoys going to and from a Sheva Brachot that was going to be taking place on another hilltop outpost in Judea – Givaat HaEitam.

To my surprise, who was the Kallah? None other than this young lady from two years ago.

What I really found amusing is that she met her husband to be in Gush Katif during the Expulsion. I heard someone joking that they can imagine the story.
Him: “Hey you, look out for that policeman over there!”

Her: “No, no, we won’t go!”

Her: “By the way, what’s your phone number.”

Him: “I’ll write it down for you, once they uncuff us.”

Anyway, I’d like to wish them both a Mazel Tov. With Jewish youths like these two to inspire us, I know that in the end we will win.
The Greens have gone Nuts (well, they were like that before, but this is so over the top).

They've decided that lighting Hanukah candles is bad for the environment and helps cause Global Warming. So they've asked that everyone light at least one less.

It's so hard to anything they say seriously when they say and do such stupid things.

I think I'll make sure that everyone in my family lights a Chanukiah, just to make up for any idiots that are going along with this.

As one talkbacker in the JP said, "Let the Greens promote Shabbos as a day of rest, that will significantly reduce car emmissions far more effectively than cutting out a single candle."

But that would make too much sense - and, not be anti-Religion.
Monday, December 03, 2007
In a no-suprise announcement (we've heard enough similar stories before), 3 PA Policemen (trained by the USA), where caught - having been the ones to murder Ido Zoldan last week on the road.

At the time Fatah (Abbas's PA military wing) took responsibility.

And they weren't lying. Two of the 3 Palestinian Policemen were caught by Israeli security services, and the third is in "protective custody" in the PA (to prevent him from being caught by the Israeli security services).

Thanks Condi. I hope you understand this too.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
I wonder what is running through Olmert’s mind right now.

I mean, seriously, the guy is not stupid.

While he hasn’t managed to engineer the under the table deals on the scale of Ariel Sharon or Shimon Peres, he has managed to put together and apparently get away with some pretty crafty transactions. Olmert is a shrewd politician and if there is anything he knows, it is back-room deals and how to read what’s going on in front of and behind him.

Even a neophyte like Tzipi Livni caught on that something was wrong (though apparently she didn’t understand why). Olmert obviously saw what happened in Annapolis.

The Arabs demanded that the Jews enter from a different entrance.

The Saudis sat there without translators, so they couldn’t understand a word that Olmert said.

Nearly all the Arabs refused to shake his hand.

Even Condoleezza Rice made an inane, off-color remark to Tzipi Livni that showed the true thoughts of the State Department (and herself) when it comes down to it.

Whatever pressures or expediencies are driving Olmert, there is no way he could have left Annapolis with any good feeling in his stomach. He must have felt the pure hatred extended at him and at Israel. He must have seen the coalition of annihilation ganging up before his very eyes.

No matter what spin he now puts on Bush’s words (including or despite what was said to him behind the scenes), he saw and heard what was said. He saw and heard what Abbas and the Others all said and say.

The Arabs made their goal very clear. There is no peace in the future. They seek the destruction of Israel as a Jewish State.

And the threats continued today with Saudi Arabia and Egypt inviting Hamas and Fatah to parlay so they can get their joint act together. Not to mention the statement of the senior PA official that said that Fatah and Hamas will fight Israel together if Israel tries to enter Gaza en mass.

So besides political survival, what else is going on in his mind.

What did Olmert feel? Was he embarrassed? Did he feel like a Galus Jew?

I can’t believe he walked away unaffected.

Even as he went home to his wife who supports the other side in this war, he must have felt some twinge in his conscience that this was about everything but peace.

Wouldn’t he?

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