Students demonstrating

Me, myself and I

Tired of hearing of the trials and tribulations of life in Israel. Yair Lapid suggests a revolutionary theory: 'You aren’t doing anyone any favors'

“We university students,” wrote an angry student, “serve in the army three years before we even begin higher education. Aren’t we entitled to some consideration from the state?”


“I have been a tax paying citizen all my life,” an insulted businessman yelled at me during a noisy party I recently attended, “and they have the nerve to take away my Philippine domestic as if I am some kind of criminal.”


“They are persecuting me,” said the oligarch.


“If the Bank of Israel doesn’t intervene in the dollar shekel crisis,” warned a respected industrialist, “I will relocate my factory to another country.”


“We already feel as if we are no longer part of the country,” observed a Jewish settler from Har Hebron.


“I have 12 children,” writes a woman from B’nai Brak. “How exactly am I supposed to feed them?”


“What confirms it the most / the isolation, the great disappointment…. is the unequivocal truth of what we simply know/ we have nowhere else to go.” This from Hebrew poet David Avidan.


Allow me to present a different theory. It’s a little revolutionary, but let’s assume we are all open and enlightened people who are ready to hear opinions other than our own. It’s possible to sum up my theory in one sentence: You aren’t doing anyone any favors.


The fact that someone served three years in the military or pays his taxes on time does not make them worthy of an award. Excuse me if I don’t faint from the fact that you have done the most basic thing demanded of you as an Israeli. This is our country. This is what it demands from its citizens. These are the trials and tribulations of living here. While it is true that there are a lot of goof offs among us (too many) it doesn’t mean that everyone who behaves normally is deserving of sainthood.


Whoever served as a sergeant in the artillery corps is simply okay, not more and not less. No one is entitled to a medal for being okay; maybe at the very most a big hug and a one-time grant of 223 shekels ($55) for every month served.


I am fed up with people who dangle us by the scruff of the neck. Those who say they are leaving the country very soon if things don’t work out the way they want them to.


First of all, where do they plan to run? You’d think that there’s some huge factory in America with a sign outside that reads ‘Israelis wanted – Huge salaries guaranteed.’


In the two most recent high tech world superpowers – India and China – salaries are much lower than in Israel. Neither is Europe exactly knocking down the door for people who wear orange Crocs. There will always be those who will be offered a million dollars a year, but the country isn’t what is pushing them out, it’s the Christmas bonus. Many of them, by the way, will return after a few years because they are sick of Christmas. Others – the majority- if someone thinks it is better to work in home improvements in LA than as a Bible studies teacher in Afula, then more power to him and welcome to Hell.


I have no problem (the contrary, there is something refreshing) about people who decide to protest and demonstrate and try to change something here but we don’t have to be their hostages. McDonalds isn’t responsible if someone ends up overweight because he eats a double cheeseburger burger with chips and a milkshake five times a day. He did it to himself and has no one else to blame.


If the woman is not able to raise 12 children then why does she expect us to underwrite five of them? If someone has illegally hired a caretaker from the Philippines then he better take into consideration that eventually he is going to be treated like a criminal. If a ‘hilltop youth’ chooses to live in illegal outposts then he has to accept some responsibility for the death of the IDF reservist who was killed while on guard duty at the outpost. If the rich industrialist is not happy about the foreign exchange rates, then why doesn’t it occur to him that it is precisely because he lives in that country that he became wealthy?


A choice

We are responsible for our fate. Sometimes the state can help us and sometimes not. When it can’t then we need to help ourselves. Maybe that is a little more difficult than whining and complaining and saying they owe us but there is no choice. I have received many angry letters from college students over the last week because I had the nerve not to agree with their struggle. Some of the letters were intelligent and eye opening; some were rude, insulting and trite. Surprisingly, many of the letters indicated opposition to the strike. In any case, the nice chem student is totally right, the country needs talented chemists. In principle, I have no objection to her not paying tuition for her doctorate but only if we can afford it.


Here is a quick list of other things deserving government budgets:

  • Drugs to treat intestinal cancer
  • Holocaust survivors
  • Reservists training
  • Tthree more F-22-A jets
  • Pensions for retirees
  • Hot lunches in schools for children from disadvantaged communities


The working premise of someone who needs to urgently find funding for a cause may be humane and understood but not to see the needs of anyone but yourself is childish and incredibly self indulgent.


And yes, I know the argument that the politicians are wasteful, the Haredim use blackmail, and state funds are thrown away on settlers and not every MK needs a new Mazda but to be insulted is not what one would call a way of governing. What is the real message here? A few people stand in the street with signs proclaiming they could run the country better? Great idea. Get involved in politics or public service and try to change the reality not from the sidewalk but everyday from 9 to 5 dealing with the complaining public who are lined up all the way down the corridor.


Israel is not just ‘the state’. It is a choice we have made. Mature people stand behind their decisions even when things are difficult. They don’t start whining and threatening to leave every time the world doesn’t turn out the way they want. Yes, there is injustice here and sometimes the wrong decisions are made. Yes, the masses are smarter than the government. And yes, sure, life is not always fair. What do you want to do about it? Leave? Leave what exactly?


פרסום ראשון: 05.23.07, 16:00
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