Liel Liebovitz delivers an impassioned denunciation of Israeli governance, post-fire. He argues that the Israeli government is systemically incompetent and wasteful, and he makes the point, cogently, that it is not for lack of money that this recent fire became a conflagration:
This grows even more maddening when one considers how promptly funds are found for the benefit of narrow interest groups or vanity projects. Even leaving aside the most obvious item--the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which, as a recent study reports, have cost Israel upward of $17 billion--the Jewish state's budget is rich with pork barrels. The annual subsidies awarded to students of ultra-Orthodox yeshivot, for example--students who often do not work, pay taxes, or serve in the army--stands at $275 million.
On a much smaller scale, the $150,000 that Israel spent last year to pay a team of bloggers entrusted with tweeting positive things about the Jewish state could've paid for much of the desperately needed firefighting equipment the Jewish National Fund tried to schnorr for last week. Budget, like everything else, is a matter of priorities; for the past two decades, Israel's leaders, so many of whom have been irredeemably corrupt, have proved that anything irrelevant to the Grand Guignol of war and peace--everything, that is, that a normal government is entrusted with overseeing--is not worthy of serious attention.
The point about schnorring is spot-on, of course: One of the reasons Israeli officials can afford to be negligent is that they know Diaspora Jews will, out of misguided loyalty, help them cover-up their mistakes. Anyone who helps the Jewish National Fund buy firetrucks the Israeli government should be paying for out of the state budget is a sucker. (Freier is the actual word.)
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