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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘salaries’

Who Needs ‘Open Skies’?

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

My husband is one of those whose trip abroad this week may not happen.  Israel’s new Finance Minister Yair Lapid campaigned to help those he calls “middle class,” those making, like his “Riki Cohen family,” almost five times minimum wage and just over double average wage for a couple.

Riki Cohen, a widow from Hadera, earns NIS 4,500 ($1,234) a month. She can only dream of earning NIS 20,000 ($5,485) a month, like the fictitious family of “Mrs. Riki Cohen,” mentioned by Finance Minister Yair Lapid in his controversial Facebook post.

In his post, Lapid also said the ‘Cohen family’ travels abroad once every two years. “Is he serious? I’ve never been abroad,” the real Riki Cohen told Ynet Tuesday. (YNET)

Yair Lapid’s concept of a “middle-class salary” is upper class, according to the real financial statistics here in Israel, especially considering that Riki Cohen’s family can afford to travel abroad every two years.  Lapid doesn’t consider that frequent enough and in one of this new government’s first big moves is to open Israeli skies to the very competitive airfares.

In response, the Israeli airlines, including El Al are striking.  My husband, not being among the privileged, sophisticated frequent travelers didn’t realize that he should have cancelled his El Al ticket and quickly bought one from a different airline. Reports are that the airport will start shutting down tomorrow.  This is not good for Israel.

Considering that another of Lapid’s, and no doubt we should remember that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu must certainly approve these moves,  budget changes is cutting child allowances which seriously affects the lower and true middle class families.

Those spending cuts include NIS 4b.-5b. from the civil service, NIS 3b.-4b. from defense, with an equal amount from child allotments and NIS 2b.-4b. from infrastructure spending.

Yet a representative for Lapid would disclose only that the budgetary framework includes new taxes on affluent goods such as luxury apartments and cars.

So, I guess we can conclude from those budget changes that Lapid puts children in the same unnecessary or optional category as luxury cars.  Does he expect Israelis to somehow down-size their families by “deleting” some of their children?

It seems pretty obvious that this is a Marie Antoinette  government whose theme is: ”Let them eat cake.”

Visit Shiloh Musings.

Friendly Reminder: Foreign Aid to the PA Funds Terror

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

The role of money in perpetuating vile terrorism never seems to get enough attention.

On Monday in Washington, Victoria Nuland, the spokesperson for the United States Department of State, articulated in the clearest way where the U.S. administration stands on delivering gifts to the Mahmoud Abbas regime, the one that is in control of sections of the entity called by many the State of Palestine. She was addressing a daily press briefing:

[W]e think it’s very, very important that they remain effective in supporting the needs of the Palestinian people… So we’re continuing to work through this. I would simply say that the Secretary [of State, meaning John Kerry, in his second week in office] feels extremely strongly that it is time now to get this support to the Palestinian Authority.” Ms Nuland was speaking about the U.S. giving funds to the P.A., the body which officially renamed itself “the State of Palestine” a few weeks ago.

She had spoken about the value of handing money to the Abbas regime just a few days earlier as well – on the previous Friday, February 8 in that day’s press briefing:

We are working with Congress to ensure U.S. support for the Palestinians, including $495.7 million in F.Y. 2012 assistance that was notified in April 2012 and $200 million in F.Y. 2013 direct budget support that was notified last week. Our view remains that our assistance to the Palestinian people is an essential part of the U.S. commitment to a negotiated two-state solution for Palestinians and Israelis, promoting a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. It is in the interest not only of the Palestinians, but of Israel and the United States as well, to ensure these efforts continue as they help to build a more democratic, stable and secure region. We’re not well placed to speak about what’s good for the USA or for the Palestinians, though we don’t lack opinions. We also refrain from criticizing the government of our own country in relation to its sending money to Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies. (Ask us and we’ll explain why.)

The point of raising here, again, this issue of money being handed over to the Palestinian Arabs in their various configurations is to remind decent people of what is done with it in reality. It’s a murky and very disturbing picture. The facts are out there, but you might be surprised at how little they are known, and how little attention the politicians pay to them.

It’s a matter that has been on our minds for years. Look for instance at what we wrote in October 2006:

Don’t be offended. But if you’re a European who cares about what’s being done with the taxes you pay to your government, the Palestinians are playing you for a fool. Not just you alone, but also your government, your politicians and your public-sector watchdogs. There are some startling revelations there that, in most cases, are even truer now, though now the evidence is easier to see – for those who want to see it.

Thanks to our friends at Palestinian Media Watch and Love of the Land for alerting us to a revealing video clip from official PA Television that aired last March. The on-camera presenter is interviewing a released Palestinian Arab former-prisoner who is proud to talk openly about the acts of terrorism he executed. He’s open about this because he has money on his mind. Here’s the transcript (the P.A. television video clip itself can be seen here):

Host: “With us is Iyad Abu Khaizaran. Good evening.” [Iyad Abu Khaizaran was a member of Islamic Jihad when he was sentenced to a life term plus 25 years in 1991 for the murder by stabbing of a 76 year old Jewish man, Shlomo Yahya, in the Tel Aviv suburbs. He walked free in the Shalit Transaction in 2011, and recently married.] Iyad Abu Khaizaran: “Since the day we were released from prison, we have been given [only] half a salary… We killed Jews. I personally killed Jews. I killed settlers and I injured soldiers. My house was destroyed. I have 11 bullets in my body. I served 22 years in Israeli prisons.” Host: “Did you, like the other [prisoners], receive salaries in the prisons?” Abu Khaizaran: “Yes. Since around the year 2000, [the salaries] became organized.” Host: “In other words, from 2000, did all the organizations, without exception, whether it was Fatah or Hamas, supporters of Abbas or not supporters of Abbas, receive salaries or not? Tell the truth openly.” Abu Khaizaran:Yes, yes they did.” He feels those salaries were too small to start with. He complained bitterly to a pro-terrorism website last year:

“His salary from the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, he said, doesn’t even cover the taxes levied on his family land in Tubas.” He demonstrates that money is a significant dimension to the kill-elderly-Jews experience. More people should listen to him.

Where’s the Money?

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Now that the new Knesset has had its festive swearing-in ceremony, it is going to have to start finding ways to reduce the deficit.  One option is to tax the public.  A second is to reduce services.  But there is another way: track down the big money that goes into inflated salaries and needless positions in the public sector.

The problem there results from the existence of large and still growing groups that developed over the course of decades courtesy of the workers’ committees.  The basic right to strike, which developed in the mines of England as a means of ensuring workers received enough to get by, developed into a powerful interest group’s means of enriching itself at the public’s expense.

The examples are well known: port workers who received huge monthly salaries, by Israeli standards, of 30,000–60,000 NIS; workers at the Israel Electric Company who receive similar salaries and free electricity; employees of Israel Aerospace Industries who joined the Likud en masse and thus guarantee their chairman a place in the Knesset as a kingmaker in the ruling party, where he works to get them salaries and working conditions that are nonexistent in other industries.

These are only the most egregious examples.  And yet, truth be told, the real big money is poured into the pensions of the defense establishment.  Did you know that each year the State of Israel spends about six billion NIS of the national budget on the pensions of career servicemen?  The state already has budgeted 260 billion NIS for career soldiers’ pensions in future years.

Why should a lieutenant colonel who retires at age 45 receive 20,000 NIS every month for the rest of his life?  Very few such people were actually combat troops.  A major or non-commissioned officer who served in an office at the Kirya or in a warehouse at Tel Nof and completed an academic degree in parallel can simply go home at age 45 and receive 9,000 NIS every month until age 120.  Just this past year, the powerful IDF Veterans Association, which represents the interests of former career soldiers, made off with the creation of additional state-funded positions as a gift to future members.

Let’s go back to the new Knesset.  Every month, the state will pay every Knesset member 38,000 NIS.  Each of them will receive a 4,250 NIS budget for clothing per year.  Why?  A Knesset member must look his best.  Of course.  Each member also will be paid 27,500 NIS toward a cell phone every year.  I, for one, pay 1,000 NIS.

Two of the new Knesset members, Itzik Shmuli and Stav Shaffir, were among the leaders of the 2011 social protests in which they chanted, “the people want social justice.”  Indeed.  The gap between them and regular people is intolerable.

Take the example of Miri.  Miri is a much admired teacher who lives in the south Mount Hevron area and travels to Gush Etzion every day to teach in a top school there.  She receives 5,000 NIS per month from the Ministry of Education, much of which goes to paying for fuel to get her to work.  Her neighbor, also a teacher, splits costs with her, and they take the shortest route possible, through Arab villages, in order to reach and teach the Jewish children in their classes.  Why should they receive any less than a non-commissioned officer working at the Kirya or in a command headquarters?  What about the nurses who are overburdened with stress and exhaustion until age 65, laboring away in a collapsing health system lacking staff and money?  Why is there no money to employ more nurses and reduce the load?

The public needs to demand that the members of the Knesset look in the mirror and start off by cutting their own salaries by at least 40 percent, with additional, symbolic cuts, such as doing away with taxpayer-funded boarding at Jerusalem hotels.  Their Knesset offices are outfitted with showers and comfortable sofas—they can sleep at the Knesset once or twice a week.  Knesset Members Yitzchak Berman and Michael Ben Ari used to do that.

Once that is done, they will be able to move on to the next stage: putting an end to the injustices inherent in the public pay scale.  Massive reorganization is needed.  The way to do that is to raise public awareness; stand up to the powerful workers’ committees with the help of patience and public backing; and even take some unpopular steps, such as issuing corrective legislation to end the Labor Courts’ automatic support for strikes.

Can the Knesset members do it?  Is it possible?  Once they’ve made cuts to themselves, it will be much easier to cut away at the fat that is choking the budget.

Originally published in Mekor Rishon. Translated from Hebrew by David Greenberg.

Behind Salam Fayyad’s Call for ‘Economic Intifada’

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, this week called for an economic Intifada against Israel.

See related Cartoon

Fayyad, whose government is facing a severe financial crisis, wants Palestinians to boycott all Israeli goods in response to Israel’s decision to seize tax revenues belonging to the Palestinian Authority.

The revenues were seized and transferred to the Israel Electric Company to cover Palestinians’ debts to the firm.

Fayyad is angry because the Israel Electric Company finally collected its debts from Palestinian consumers. Speaking to Palestinian reporters in Ramallah, he denounced the transfer of the funds to the company as “illegal and immoral.”

Fayyad knows better than anyone else that, for various reasons, many Palestinians have not been paying their electricity bills.

Many Palestinians refuse to pay water, electricity and other bills because they believe the international community, primarily the Americans and Europeans, should be covering all their expenses. Others refuse to pay because they believe the money eventually falls into the hands of corrupt Palestinian Authority officials.

Earlier this year, the Palestinian Authority announced a series of measures to persuade Palestinian consumers to pay their electricity bills, but to no avail. The Palestinian Authority even announced a new law that allows it to imprison any Palestinian who is caught practicing the widespread phenomenon of “electricity theft.”

Because of the financial crisis, Fayyad’s government has also failed to pay full salaries to its employees, sparking a two-day general strike of the public sector in the West Bank.

The transfer of funds to the Israel Electric Company, and the Arab world’s failure to fulfill promises to support the Palestinian Authority financially, have created a severe financial crisis in the Palestinian Authority.

This is not the first time that Arab countries lie to Palestinians. Over the past two decades, Arab nations have promised the Palestinians billions of dollars in aid. But, according to officials in Ramallah, the Palestinians have received less than 10% of what they had been promised.

Instead of seeking ways to solve the crisis, however, Fayyad chose to call on Palestinians to boycott all Israeli goods. How does that help solve the financial crisis? Fayyad did not have an answer. He just wants to punish Israel for collecting on the debt for the electricity bills.

He is hoping that by calling for an economic intifada, he will succeed in diverting growing anger and frustration on the Palestinian street towards the Israelis. This has always been the Palestinian Authority’s way of avoiding responsibility for anything that goes wrong — by putting all the blame on Israel.

Fayyad wants Palestinians to boycott Israel, but at the same time is unable to provide them with better alternatives. Does he really think that Palestinians will stop buying Israeli-manufactured medicine, for example?

As one Palestinian public servant asked, “How can our prime minister ask us to boycott Israeli goods when we can’t even afford to purchase Palestinian goods because he’s not paying us our salaries?”

Added another Palestinian who has been working as a school teacher for 25 years: “If Fayyad wants us to boycott Israel, why doesn’t he himself set an example? Why is he living in Jerusalem, under Israeli rule, and enjoying, together with his family, most privileges offered to Israeli citizens? Today, I’m ready to go and work in an Israeli settlement to feed my children and I don’t care whether Fayyad likes it or not.”

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/khaled-abu-toameh/behind-salam-fayyads-call-for-economic-intifada/2012/12/20/

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