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We’re Fed Up with this Exorbitant Government

Maariv, Israel, June 5

It’s a pretty time of year in Israel. The trees are in full blossom, the rivers are flowing and the fields around us are finally being harvested. Seemingly, we have every reason to celebrate. But the truth is that there’s no reason for happiness. We’re being robbed in broad daylight. When this current government was sworn in a few weeks ago, we thought we hit rock bottom. Not a single person in their right mind imagined that we could go any lower. And then, just when we thought it couldn’t get worse, it did: New laws are being passed these days to bring even more cronies into the Israeli parliament, while ministers with already made-up portfolios are asking for additional budgets and resources. Take, for example, the honorable minister of water and higher education, Mr. Ze’ev Elkin, whose ministry was especially created out of thin air to cater to his ego. Last week, Mr. Elkin requested to double the size of his staff under the claim that one chief of staff, secretary and spokesperson could not simultaneously deal with both of his ministerial duties: water and higher education. When I heard this news I thought it was a joke. Alas, it wasn’t. If Elkin’s chief of staff can’t deal with both the water and higher education portfolios at the same time, requiring to double the ministry’s headcount, then I hereby demand that every Israeli mother be given a free-of-charge personal assistant, courtesy of the government. Most Israeli mothers, after all, oversee two or more portfolios: They’re not only mothers, but they work full-time jobs where they likely earn less than their male counterparts. Wouldn’t this follow Elkin’s very own logic? How is it possible that our ministers’ salaries continue inflating every year while the Israeli economy is reaching a standstill? It reminds me how, back in the old days, field owners would be expected to leave at least 10% of their crops untouched so that their poor neighbors could come and collect leftovers to feed themselves. Today’s rich field owners, who are sitting in their fancy, made-up government offices, couldn’t care less about the poor. The responsibility of taking care of the weak completely shifted to the shoulders of donation-backed civil society groups. To our never-satiated ministers I have one message: Let us live our lives in dignity. And most importantly, have some respect for the wide public that put you in office. Humility and modesty are always appreciated, especially during difficult times like these. We’re fed up with your exorbitant practices. – Orit Miller (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)