Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Israel and the Corruption Problem

And today we arre submerged once again in the mucky depths of yet another high-level corruption scandal. The head of the Tax Authority and The PM's Beaurueau Chief have all been taken for questioning. The issue is fraudulent promotions, favours and inappropriate tax breaks to associates of those in powerful places.

What started in Israel as a culture of Protexzia has now decayed to full-fledged corrution. We now have a situation where all of our past four Prime Ministers have been investigated for fraud, our last president too, our current president on sex-charges. Many other cabinet ministers are also up for police investigation. Last week we had a gambling ring who were "fixing" the results of footbal games, we have had politicians buying hotel rooms for party memebers. What is next?

There is a sickness here. There is a sense that for money, rules do not count. There is a sense that things do not work by the rules, but rather by "who you know."

And then people lose all confidence in the fairness of the system of law, of government.

And when that happens, we become a lawless society. It is not "worth it" to keep the law.

This starts at the top, but it trickles down to lower levels all over the place. When I built my house here in Alon Shevut, there was a rule that one may not build a sub-unit, or granny flat. The logic was that the neighbourhood infrastructure (shul, nursery, schools etc.) was designed for X families, and that if everyone built extra housing units, there would not be sufficient for all. After we had all built, I realised that the people who had legislated that very rule, had builttheir own sup-apartments. When I confronted them, they all had good excuses. But next time, will I keep the law, or break it? Why should I be the only idiot? They make good money from renting out a sub apartment? Why did I keep the law?

But then, we don't need to pay taxes, we don't need to pay our employees on time, we can ignore traffic reulations etc etc. And then the result is that there is no money for hospitals, no money to assist the elderly. Then society is all about how I can get ahead, without doing the work! Because doing the work doesn't get you anywhere! And it is about who I can hobnob with, and not keeping the rules.

I have been feeling this for some time now, and with every day I am more convinced: the no.1 problem in Israel is Law Enforcement. The system of law is week here. It is not that we lack the laws, but nobody enforces them. There are laws against enviromental pollution, but the Kishon is still filled with polution, and Tel Aviv still pumps many thousands of cubic metres of sewage into the sea. Traffic rules are not punished. Housing regulations are widely ignored and rural areas suddenly turn into throbbing metropolis.

The goverment fails in a war, and no one takes any responsibility. Responsibility, accountability is all irrelevent as long as you are on top.

Without a system of enforcing and keeping law, there is a real threat to the future of the Jewish State as anything other than a third world banana republic.

This must begin with our leaders. It must continue with every citizen who should feel proud that he is an upstanding law abiding citizen.

I so wish that one, just one of our politicians would put the notion of שלטון החוק at the forefront of the public awareness. But it is like nobody cares!

I guess we will just sit and wait for next week's scandal!

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