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Sami Michael Photo: Hagai Aharon
Sami Michael Photo: Hagai Aharon
 
 

Thieves, go home!

Op-ed: We citizens don’t work hard for our living so those who govern us can live in glorious palaces

Sami Michael
Published: 12.10.13, 20:07 / Israel Opinion

For more than 60 years, I have been paying a significant chunk of my monthly salary as direct and indirect income tax. It is my right to know and demand an explanation on where the huge amounts collected from me and from a large part of a law-abiding working population go to. Throughout most of my years, I have been forced to hold two jobs. I didn't do that to provide the ruling class with a life of criminal extravagance.

 

Alarming Report
OECD: Israel poverty high despite strong economy / AFP
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says while Jewish state enjoys rapid economic growth and low unemployment, it has worst poverty of group's 35 member states
Full story

We, the citizens who work hard for our living and for nurturing society, don't work so that the homes of the prime minister, the president, the ministers and the heads of public companies will be glorious palaces, while one-third of Israel's population lives in poverty and deprivation. Many people cannot even afford proper medical care. How is it possible that a child is robbed of a slice of bread and sentenced to a life of illiteracy, while wealthy people and rulers deprive us of our money and waste it on a life of luxury, on ostentatious journeys and on nurturing unnecessary and dangerous settlements? How is it possible that there is not enough money to renovate the rickety houses of the poor, while ministers stay in luxurious suites for NIS 20,000 (about $5,700) a night using money robbed from the public's pockets?

 

You, who govern us, how is it possible that basic human rights have become a luxury? How is it possible that we have people without rights alongside people with privileges? How could you privatize, with the thrust of a knife, Israel's welfare services? How is it possible that housing prices in Israel are among the most exaggerated in the world? How could you rob public housing from thousands of people in desperate need of a home?

 

How could you assist in raising water prices and sit idle while families in distress have been cut off from water supply? How could you do that while the ruler consumes water at his home at an amount sufficient for some 60 households? How could you cut the allowances of single-parent families and child benefits? How could you have tossed tens of thousands of elderly people to a life of poverty? How could you shamelessly present the poor as parasites?

 

How is it possible that the majority of poor families are working families? How is it possible that food prices in Israel are about 25% higher than in the United States and Western Europe? And how could you crush the rights of the disabled and handicapped among us? How could you create two health systems – one for the rich and another, a ridiculous one, for the poor? How could you allow our pension to be damaged? And how, how could you violate the essence of democracy and use systems to scare off the public of protestors and demonstrators against unbearable injustices?

 

Not a drop of compassion or justice

You have created an atmosphere of terror alongside a policy of handing out benefits. You have brought along journalists who betrayed their mission and volunteered to serve as an impure mouthpiece for your distorted rule. Luckily, few journalists complied. The policy of silencing and cynical denial has led many citizens to a life of weakness and despair. Have you counted how many have already set themselves on fire due to economic distress? No, you don't count them, neither the dead nor the living dead. You have nurtured a biased media which keeps its mouth shut.

 

You, who govern us, you better know: Neither borders nor land are the most important thing. The individual is the essence of every proper society – that is how we have been educated from time immemorial, and that is how we have educated our children as well. While you, who govern us, have robbed and abandoned the individual.

 

I turn to Knesset members from all factions: Whether you were elected to represent us and protect us deceitfully and through tricks or sincerely and justifiably, you must at least serve as an example for the rulers you have crowned and provided with government seats. Please, prevent the expected increase in your salary and remember, remember very well, that you were elected to be the people's ministrants – not their masters.

 

You, who govern us, have caused a diligent and rich country to deteriorate into a place of injustice, part of which is glowing light and ostentatious extravagance and part of which is darkness and distress. It is for a reason that Israel reached the bottom of the ranking among OECD members in educational achievements, in civil participation and in outrages income inequality.

 

Not a single head of a public company and not a single Knesset member break their backs from dawn to nightfall to bring a slice of bread and clothes for themselves and their families. Whether through perfect silence, or through denial, you, our rulers, bury your heads in the sand while tens of thousands of patients are unable to even buy a pill to take away the pain. What a pity, such a pity, for every penny of the tax citizens pay, while you waste it in order to overfeed yourselves and your associates.

 

You, who govern us, have brought the State to shameful places in the indices of social justice and citizen welfare among the world's civilized countries. You have created a society of money-sucking parasites on the one hand, and of poor people who can't make ends meet on the other hand.

 

A government which works to evict its citizens from their lands and homes, a government which jails children in the heart of the desert, a government which strives to undermine the High Court of Justice, a government which engages day and night in obsessive intimidation against the Iranian threat, and a government whose economic policy violates the basic right of its citizens to live in dignity, is not only unnecessary, but is also harmful.

 

Surely you have taken care both of your retirement grant and monstrous pension. And now, after sowing so much despair, and with your pockets filled with impure money, enough already, go home.

 

We citizens will not keep quiet as long as you continue ruling us in crooked ways, wickedly, cynically, using intimidation systems. We citizens will not keep quiet until we rid ourselves of your burden, a burden with not a drop of compassion or justice.

 

Author Sami Michael serves as the president of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)

 

 

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