In an attempt to raise revenues after they lowered them for the benefit of the rich, the Treasury Boys go after the Holocaust survivors
Last night we found out there is an apparatchik at the Treasury who came up with a brilliant idea for curbing the deficit: Raising the rent of Holocaust survivors. As the clerk – his name is Tzahi David – proudly explained to the somewhat shocked Knesset members, the government subsidizes the rent of many Holocaust survivors, who pay only 8 percent of it. From October onward, said Tzahi David, they’ll pay 10 percent. This will cost them about 70 NIS (about 18 USD); a small amount for Tzahi David, a large sum for a retiree. The government will rake in some seven million NIS per year.
Several years ago, the country was in an uproar when the Olmert government proudly announced that it would raise the monthly stipends of the survivors by only 83 NIS. The amount was considered shamefully low. Olmert hath given, and Tzahi David hath taketh away, let the name of the Treasury Boys be blessed. As for those extra 83 shekels? Fear not – the rising prices have long gnawed at it, leaving little.
Israel’s cynical use of the Holocaust survivors is astounding even to those familiar with the unsavory face of Israeli history. At the beginning, after 1948, they were something to be embarrassed of, the embodiment of the Old Jew, and they were ordered to be silent about what they had experienced. Later, when Zionist ideology breathed its last and David Ben Gurion founded the religion of the Holocaust in its stead, using the Eichmann trial as its equivalent of human sacrifice, the survivors were faced with the demand to publicly re-open their barely healed wounds. From that moment, until the final logic of the Holocaust religion was exposed in General Eliezer Stern’s saying that “in every generation, a person should see himself as if he himself went out of Auschwitz,” they served as Israel’s fig leaf, as a walking, talking plea to the world: Look at us, how dare you judge us?
Yet, strangely enough, Holocaust survivors have often found themselves in the sights of the Treasury Boys (the unelected band of treasury officials who have an inordinate amount of power and who actually write Israeli policy on everything, except military operations and foreign relations): They forced the closing of the Holocaust Survivors’ Welfare Fund in 2006, by denying it funding while cynically saying they might renew it the next year – with dozens or hundreds of survivors dying in the meanwhile. The Knesset even created an investigative committee, so far with no results.
Now, I understand that Tzahi David must find a way to raise that seven million shekels somehow, and I’d be glad to help him. I’m no economist, but I’m pretty certain that if we raise Israel’s corporate tax back to 27 percent, instead of 25 percent as it has been since 2010, we’re likely to end up with a bit more than seven million. Yes, I know – the voodoo doctors tell us that if we raise the corporate tax, companies will bolt. I dunno: they seem to doing rather well in New Zealand (with a tax rate of 30 percent) and Australia (likewise), Britain (where the rate can go up to 28 percent) and even in the good ol’ USA, where the federal tax can go up to 35 percent, and that’s not including state taxes. Nobody seems to think California is particularly hostile to business, even though it has a corporate tax – again, different from the federal tax – of 9.3%.
Assuming Tzahi David doesn’t like the idea, since it will imperil his ability to get a corporate job once he leaves the Treasury, maybe we ought to roll back the “reform” in the internal revenue tax. After all, this particular reform – which lowers the rates of the 10th percentile – is the cause of the missing funds in the first place. Another good idea is seriously fighting the army over its budget, since we learned last night that – oops! – it wasted some 560 million over a misguided car leasing project. Making a quick calculation, it seems that 560 million will cover Tzahi David’s missing seven million for, oh, 80 years. Few people seriously believe Israel will be around then.
Yet another trick of the Treasury Boys for closing the gap – assuming there is one; the Treasury keeps trying to make the public look away from those notes it is obliged to publish, which say that every quarter, the government collects more taxes than expected – and yet it is raising taxes on goods and services. The oligarchs may be paying lower taxes, but everyone is spending more on water, food, fuel, alcohol – you name it. The bastards even had the temerity to subject water to VAT, which never happened before Netanyahu came to power. One of them, a former aide to Treasury Minister Steinitz, said that “a long shower is a luxury.” For reasons beyond human understanding, Tzahi David and his colleagues seem to think this is perfectly natural, perhaps because they are guided by an ideology which does not recognize human beings, only products, producers, and invisible hands.
The Treasury Boys hold the reins of power in Israel. In effect, they run every governmental department. Nothing can be done, unless they approve it. The department’s treasury official can block any initiative. He knows everything. He understands education better than teachers, health services more than doctors, welfare better than social workers.
So it is about time the people who wield the power will also bear the responsibility. Let’s stop talking of amorphous Treasury Boys and name names: Every draconian measure bears a name. We can start with Tzahi David, who will live in infamy as the man who seriously suggested cutting rent subsidies to aged Holocaust survivors. Do you know where he lives? Send him mail saying precisely what you think of him. Meet him in the street? Tell him, publicly and to his face, what you think of his sorry existence. Until we manage to nationalize the Treasury, it’s time for a “price tag” policy against it.