Thursday, 21 May 2015

Israel Needs a New National Anthem

I read an article today about a visit that Israeli President Reuven Rivlin made to a school in Jerusalem, where he discussed co-existence and equality.  One of the things he told the students at the school was that he respects those amongst Israel's citizens that do not sing the verse, "Jewish soul", in the national anthem, "Hatikva" (see: Rivlin to Students: Respect those that do not sing the words, "Jewish Soul" in the anthem).  Israel's national symbols, including its national anthem, its flag and its coat of arms, have been a point of contention with the country's non-Jewish citizens who feel excluded from what are essentially Jewish symbols.  President Rivlin gave an example of an Arab friend of his who told him that the national anthem should be changed.  Rivlin replied to him that the national anthem could not be changed because the hope of establishing a Jewish state was, in his words, "our goal for two thousand years."  I am not a person who likes to change symbols simply to placate minority groups.  This has been happening too much in other countries, including Canada, where I live.  In fact, it is almost always the industrialized democracies that bend over backwards to placate members of minority populations, many of whom come from countries that do almost nothing to accommodate minorities in their own backyard.  For example, in Canada, celebrating Christmas in public schools has all but come to an end because doing so supposedly offends Canadians who are not Christians.  But would you ever see public schools in the Islamic Republic of Iran refrain from  celebrating a Muslim holiday so as not to offend non-Muslims?  I don't think so.  Hence, I do not agree with changing Israel's national anthem or any other national symbol to accommodate non-Jewish citizens.  I think I can speak for most Jews both inside and outside of Israel when I say that we only have one country that is truly ours and we aim to keep it that way.  Nevertheless, I think that Israel's national anthem should be changed for other reasons.

"The Hope" Has Already Been Achieved.  Israel's National Anthem Should Reflect This

Like Israel's flag, the country's national anthem, "Hatikva", or "The Hope" as it translates into English, predates the State of Israel itself.  It was written in 1878 by a Jewish poet and adopted as the anthem of the Zionist movement in 1897 at the first Zionist Congress.  The anthem itself speaks of the hope of the Jewish people to establish a sovereign homeland in the Biblical Land of Israel, hence the name of the song.  One of the reasons that I believe in replacing Hatikva as Israel's national anthem is because the hope that it refers to has already been achieved.  Jewish independence has been reestablished for the first time in 2000 years and we Jews are, as Hatikva states, "a free people in our land."  In other words, the anthem is out of date, and I think that any national anthem of Israel should be one that talks about the State of Israel as it exists today and hopefully for years to come.

"...towards the east an eye looks to Zion."  An Exclusionary Verse

Another problem that I've always had with Hatikva presents itself in one particular verse that I find excludes Jews of non-European descent.  This verse goes, "...towards the east an eye looks to Zion."  As I understand this verse, it was meant to resonate with Jews of European descent, often referred to as Ashkenazim.  After all, it was an Ashkenazi Jew that wrote the song, and for him and other Jews in Europe, east was the general direction of the Land of Israel, not to mention the fact that the Zionist movement itself started off as an exclusively European Jewish movement under Theodore Herzl.  And even when non-European Jews, sometimes called Mizrahim or Sephardim, began joining the Zionist movement, it was still an overwhelmingly European Jewish movement.  Indeed, there has always been tension in Israel between Ashkenazim and Sephardim/Mizrachim, with the former group historically assuming the role of the ruling class, while the latter group has traditionally been the underclass.  This tension still plays out in Israeli politics today, and in my opinion, Hatikva, though never intended to be emblematic of Ashkenazi dominance, is in fact a hallmark of such dominance.  By having a verse in our anthem that refers exclusively to Jews in Europe looking east towards Zion, we are allowing our anthem to negate those of us Jews who are not of European descent.  My family on my father's side, for example, is of Georgian descent.  My grandmother herself was born in Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic, and for those of you who know your geography, the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan and Georgia can be found northeast of the Land of Israel.  Hence, my ancestors would have looked west to Zion, not east.  Moreover, my family on my grandfather's side (my father's father) go back several generations in the Land of Israel, even before the modern Zionist waves of immigration to what would become the State of Israel began.  But does Hatikva give any reference to Jews that were born outside of Europe or who were already in Israel before Zionism began?  Nope, not a word, and this for me is a problem.  Actually, it's more like an injustice.  Our national anthem must be an anthem for all the children of Israel, not just the ones who happened to find their way to the country from Europe.

What Would a Better Anthem Be?

I believe that a better national anthem for the State of Israel is one that the greatest number of Israelis can identify with and say, "This is what my country is all about."  One thing that I would hope for is that any future national anthem be a song written by an Israeli.  Perhaps there is already a popular Israeli song that we can designate as our national anthem.  I always liked "Jerusalem of Gold" (Yerushalayim Shel Zahav) for example, though I don't believe that this would be suitable because it is a song about Jerusalem, not Israel as a whole.  But perhaps there is another Israeli song that would be more appropriate.  Heck, maybe we should hold a national contest and have Israeli citizens submit their own ideas.   

     

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Help the Rohingya

In the past week, I've been seeing a lot of news stories focusing on the plight of the Rohingya, a Muslim people who mostly live in the Burmese state of Rakhine, where they are relentlessly persecuted, subjected to massacres and expulsions, and denied basic rights of any kind.  The Burmese authorities refuse to give them citizenship, claiming that they are from Bangladesh, while the government in Bangladesh disputes this claim and will not recognize the Rohingya as their responsibility either.  Hence, the Rohingya are a people without a country to call home.  They have been in the news recently because many of them, having attempted to flee persecution in Burma, now find themselves stranded at sea in appalling conditions on less than seaworthy boats because no country will give them refuge. 

When I saw the clips of the Rohingyas stranded on ships in the middle of the ocean begging for help, it reminded me of a dark chapter in Canadian history when in 1939, Canada turned away the St. Louis, a ship loaded with over nine hundred Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany.  Actually, Canada was only one of several countries, including the U.S., Cuba and other Caribbean states that refused to allow the Jews to disembark on their soil.  This ship eventually sailed back to Europe, where some of the refugees ultimately met their deaths in the Nazi concentration camps.  Hence, as a Jew, I strongly empathize with the plight of the Rohingya people as their situation is not too dissimilar from the former situation of the Jewish people, who not too long ago were a people without a country, unwelcome wherever they hoped to find refuge.  Now it seems that the world is failing to stop the genocide against the Rohingya just as it failed to stop the slaughter of six million Jews in the Holocaust.  Have we learned nothing from history?

The Rohingya need more than the small handouts and lip service that they have been getting from the international community so far.  They need the world to take action and stop the persecution and genocide that is being committed against them in Burma.  Furthermore, they need to have place that they can call home.  I argued in one of my first blog posts that every persecuted people needs a homeland of their own, and even pointed to the Rohingya as an example (see: Why the Jewish People and Every Other Persecuted Nation Need a Home to Call Their Own).  Indeed, just as the Jewish Holocaust may have been prevented had the Jews had a country of their own when the Nazi death machine emerged, so too may the existence of a Rohingya homeland prevent the continuing genocide against the Rohingya Muslims.     

Jerusalem Must Remain United...At Least Physically

Today, May 17, 2015, or the 28th Day of Iyyar according to the Hebrew calendar, is Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day) in Israel; the day when Israelis mark the reunification of the city and the liberation of the city's eastern half from Jordanian-Hashemite rule.  Before the liberation and reunification, Israelis and Jews were barred from most of the city's holy places, including the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism.  My relatives on one side of my family are from Jerusalem.  In fact, they have been living there for five or more generations, even before the first Zionist-inspired waves of immigration to what would become the State of Israel began.  My father recently told me a story about how his father went to meet his friend, an Arab man living in the Old City, for the first time in nearly two decades, shortly after the reunification.  My grandfather himself was actually born in the Old City when it was still under the rule of the Ottoman Turks.  I also remember my father telling me about how IDF soldiers visited the Western Wall for the first time.  "They were crying like babies," my father told me.  And who can blame them?  This was the first time in two thousand years that Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people, was entirely in Jewish hands.  To divide Jerusalem again would be like tearing the heart out of the Jewish people.  Yet this is exactly what a lot of people, both Jewish and non-Jewish, are talking about doing in order to meet the demands of the Palestinians to have the eastern part of the city, including the Old City, as the capital of their future state. 

Let's not forget that Jerusalem has never been the capital of any people other than the Jewish people.  In fact, even when it was under Jordanian control, the Hashemite regime never made it the capital of their kingdom, setting aside this honour for Amman instead.  Furthermore, my father can attest to the fact that under Hashemite rule, the eastern side of Jerusalem was far from prosperous.  When he entered the Old City for the first time, there was garbage strewn all over the streets.  He even told me a story about how the IDF warned its soldiers and the public not to eat the produce sold in the Old City because it was watered with sewage water.  Jerusalem wasn't treated very well under the previous Ottoman rulers either.  Have you ever wondered why the gate that leads to the Old City's Jewish Quarter is called the Dung Gate?  Well, it's because that part of the Old City, including the site of the Western Wall, was a dumping ground for animal feces.  And this is supposed to be Islam's third holiest city!?  I guess the moral of the story is that when tyrannical Muslim rulers control the city, they can do whatever they want with it, which includes making it dirty and reeking of neglect.  But if Jews control the city, they are conquerors and occupiers, regardless of the fact that Israeli control of the unified city has brought with it modern infrastructure and economic prosperity.  I am uncompromising in my belief that Jerusalem must remain united...at least physically.

In other words, there can never be a physical border separating parts of what constitutes Jerusalem today.  But I would not rule out the possibility of a political border, or more specifically a municipal border.  What I mean is that it may be prudent to give Arab neighbourhoods in the city municipal autonomy so that the predominantly Jewish neigbhourhoods remain part of the municipality known as Yerushalayim, while Arab neighbourhoods, like Beit Hanina, Shuafat, and Beit Safafa would be part of the new municipality of Al-Quds.  This way, Jerusalem would remain the united capitol of Israel, but have a municipal separation between Jewish and Arab majority areas that would not be marked by physical boundaries.  This is a model that has already existed in Israel for quite some time in certain areas of the country.  For instance, the city of Nazareth is a predominantly Arab city, while next to it is a different city called Nazeret Illit, which is inhabited mostly by Jews.  The same thing has also been happening in Judea and Samaria.  For example, outside of the city of Jericho, where almost all of the inhabitants are Arabs, there is a small village called Vered Yericho, as well as other nearby Jewish villages.  What I'm trying to say is that it is possible to plan the allocation of land so that Jewish and Arab communities can have at least some degree of autonomy that allows them to meet the specific needs of their respective communities. 

As the current situation in Jerusalem stands today, the overwhelming majority of the city's Arabs refuse to participate in Jerusalem's municipal politics because of threats from Palestinian leaders who consider any participation in Israel's institutions to be treason.  In 1987, for example, Sari Nusseibeh, now the president of the Al-Quds University in Jerusalem, tried to run for mayor of the city, but withdrew his candidacy after his cars were burned and his home was vandalized (see: Tradition of Not Voting Keeps Palestinians Politically Powerless in Jerusalem).  Perhaps, however, if the mostly Arab neighbourhoods of the city were put together to make up an autonomous Al-Quds municipality, the Arab residents therein would be more likely to participate in municipal politics, knowing that it would be Arabs and not Jews governing them.  Once they are given municipal autonomy, along with adequate funding that could come from both Israeli and Palestinian sources, they would be able to improve their living standards, which lag behind those of the Jewish neighbourhoods in Jerusalem.  This municipal autonomy could even be part of a comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which I discussed in a past blog (see: My Own Personal Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan).

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Haredim in Israel Must Learn to Live and Let Live

Early this past week, I came across an article in the English internet version of Yediot Ahronot saying that Haredi activists are asking the mayor of Jerusalem to close the city's famous Biblical Zoo on Shabbat (see: Haredim want Biblical Zoo closed on Shabbat).  This certainly isn't the first time that people in the Haredi community have tried to prevent certain institutions or places of commerce from operating on the Jewish Sabbath and it definitely won't be the last.  Indeed, I can tell you from my own personal experience that Jerusalem on a Saturday can seem like a ghost town.  But of course, restrictions on many activities during Shabbat are not limited to Jerusalem.

Most daily activities, including grocery shopping, dining out, going to the movies, or even using public transportation are significantly curtailed in all parts of Israel, either because of religiously-based laws preventing such activities from taking place or because of pressure from local Haredi communities.  In fact, this has been the reality in Israel since independence, though it's a reality that many Israelis would like to change.  It's bad enough that many Haredim refuse to contribute to modern Israeli society by say, getting a job, yet these same people have the nerve to tell ordinary, hardworking Israeli taxpayers how they should live their lives.

It's not like the rest of the Israeli public tells the Haredim how to live their lives, other than asking them to contribute to the country's economy, which many of them still refuse to do.  On the contrary, the rest of Israel's citizens make the Haredi way of life possible since it is their hard-earned taxes that the government uses to pay the masses of unemployed and unproductive Haredim to sit in their synagogues and study the Torah all day.  And how do these folks repay the Israeli majority?  By gathering on the streets every Saturday to yell at, spit at, and throw stones at Israelis driving their cars, yelling "Shabbos!  Shabbos!"  My response to the Haredim who insist on telling the rest of Israel how to live their lives and telling them what they should and shouldn't do on Shabbat or other Jewish holidays is the following: No one is stopping you from living the way you want to live.  If you want to live your lives according to how interpret the Jewish religion, that's fine.  If you want to continue walking around in your medieval Polish garb, speaking Yiddish and acting as if you are still living in the shtetls of Europe, then by all means, go ahead.  But don't insist that all Israelis must live as you do.  Learn to live and let live. 
   

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Your Time is Money...Except at the Doctor's Office

A few days ago, I read a news story about a woman who waited in a Peterborough hospital for an hour and a half for a one-minute cortisone injection.  So what's so newsworthy about this?  Anyone in Canada who's ever been to a doctor's office or hospital knows what it's like to wait for what seems like an eternity for an appointment or procedure that only lasts a few minutes at most.  The difference in this case is that the woman has attempted to bill the hospital for the time she was kept waiting (see: Time is money, says woman who sent hospital $122.50 bill for wait time).

Personally, I would love to be able to bill doctors and hospitals for the seemingly endless hours I've had to wait for them.  Heck, I think if everyone got to bill their doctors for wait times, we would all be rich - and the health care system would be bankrupt.  Seriously, ask yourself how long you've had to languish in your doctor's waiting room with nothing but magazines in excess of a year old to occupy your time?  I'm betting that many of you have lost count of how many hours you've waited to see a doctor over your lifetime.  Now let's face it, sometimes doctors have legitimate excuses for making you wait.  These usually involve emergency situations.  But sometimes this is not the case, and doctors can keep you waiting just because they feel like it.  My feeling is that some of them have a sense of entitlement, believing that their time is worth more than everyone else's simply because they're doctors and the rest of us aren't.  For example, the woman who is the subject of the aforementioned article claimed that she and other patients were kept waiting while the doctor and his staff took a lunch break.  The woman also claimed that another patient asked the receptionist if he could go grab something to eat to keep his diabetes under control, only to be refused on the grounds that he might miss his appointment time.  How hypocritical can you get!?  The doctor and his staff can take off and grab lunch, but patients don't have that right!?  It's not the first time I've heard about this kind of double standard that some people in the medical professions seem to have.

I once had a doctor who I saw on an almost weekly basis.  In my opinion, he had a very large sense of entitlement and was just about the most arrogant person I have ever met.  He routinely kept me waiting for up to 30 minutes each time I saw him.  But God forbid if I was a few minutes late, he would give me a lecture.  In fact, one time when I failed to make an appointment due to a freak snowstorm, he charged me $75 for missing the appointment and then told me, "I hope you learn from this."  Meanwhile, whenever I suggested he was hypocritical because he was routinely late for my appointments with him, he would shrug and say that his frequent tardiness was due to situations beyond his control.  Uh, correct me if I'm wrong, doctor, but isn't the weather beyond my control?  My point is that there is a fetid stench of hypocrisy that surrounds people in the medical professions.  They get to bill us whenever we're late or absent, but we don't get to bill them whenever they fail to serve us in a timely manner.  The woman who billed the hospital for her wait time is obviously aware of this double standard, as I think we all are.  The difference between her and the rest of us is that she courageously took a stand against this hypocrisy by sending a bill for her wait time to the hospital.  I think that we should learn from this woman's example and stand up for our right as patients and taxpayers to receive timely service from the folks who work in our health care system, or to be compensated whenever we're kept languishing in waiting rooms for no valid reason.   

Monday, 4 May 2015

Framework for a Free United Nations

Last week, I wrote a post about how the United Nations has become one big joke that should be replaced with what I call a Free United Nations; a global organization composed only of freedom-loving, democratic nation-states.  I also suggested that such an organization should operate more like a government rather than an international organization made up of diplomats, like the current U.N. I did not, however, go into great detail in regards to how I see a new, Free U.N. being structured.  Therefore I will use this post to provide a more in-depth description of what I think the Free U.N. should look like.

The Global Parliament

In my original post on the U.N., I said that there should be a parliament.  By this, I meant a parliament that is democratically elected by the people of each member state, rather than an assembly of diplomats, like the current U.N.'s General Assembly (UNGA).  Furthermore, unlike the UNGA, where each nation-state has one vote, I would suggest that the Global Parliament of the Free U.N. use a formula of representation based on population.  So for example, the United States, with a population in excess of 300 million people, would have far more representatives than say, my home country of Canada, which has only about 35 million people.  I do believe, however, that each nation-state should have a minimum of two representatives.

All the member states would be able to decide for themselves what electoral system they use to elect their representatives, be it proportional representation, first-past-the-post or some other method.  The only condition would be that the representatives have to be directly elected by the countries' citizens through universal adult suffrage; ie. all citizens of each country aged 18 years or more would have the right to vote.  It may be feasible to structure the Global Parliament as a bicameral legislature if many member states insist on having a chamber where each state has an equal number of votes, instead of just having a unicameral legislature based on representation by population.  In this case, I would recommend that one chamber, called the Global Assembly, be structured based on the representation by population model, while a second chamber, which I will call the Global Senate, be made up of two representatives from each country, regardless of population; ie. each country gets two representatives and two votes.  All representatives in the Global Parliament will be elected to fixed terms.  I personally would recommend four year terms.

The Prime Minister and Cabinet

As in any parliamentary governmental system, the Global Parliament, or the lower house thereof, will choose a Prime Minister, who will in turn choose ministers to form a cabinet. 

The Council of Ministers

Although I argued that the Free U.N. should be structured as if it were the democratically elected government of a country, I would also contend that it is the member states that must have the final say in the decisions made by the new organization; at least on a temporary basis.  What I mean is that even though I believe that the leaders of the free world would agree to form a new, Free United Nations, I don't believe that they would be willing to turn over their sovereign right to create and enforce international laws to what will essentially be an aspiring world government.  Hence, I propose that until a certain level of trust and unity amongst the nation-states is obtained, the member states of the Free U.N. must have an organ of power that they can use in order to have the final say on whatever decisions the organization makes.

My proposed Council of Ministers would be that organ of power and would function in very much the same way as the Council of Ministers in the European Union does today.  The E.U.'s Council of Ministers was created as the original, de-facto legislature of the organization.  It is composed of one minister from each member country.  The portfolios of those ministers depend whatever issue is up for discussion at any given time.  So for example, if the Council is discussing agricultural subsidies, the ministers responsible for agriculture in each member country will meet.  Each member state in the E.U.'s Council of Ministers has a certain number of votes in accordance with their respective populations.  The Free U.N.'s Council of Ministers would work the same way.  In many cases, special majorities or even unanimous votes are required in the E.U.'s Council of Ministers in regards to issues of major importance.  I would suggest that in the Free U.N.'s Council of Ministers, a special majority, say two thirds, be required when authorizing the use of force in order to enforce international law, though I believe that other issues should be decided by majority vote.  Furthermore, under NO circumstances should one country, no matter how populous or powerful, have a veto over decisions in the Free U.N.  The last thing we need is the kind of dysfunction and deadlock that passes for normalcy in the current U.N.'s Security Council.

The President of the Free United Nations

All international governmental organizations have one person at the top.  The current U.N. has the Secretary-General, the European Union has the President of the European Commission, and so the Free U.N. should also have someone at the top who can speak on its behalf.  I will call this person the President of the Free United Nations.  He or she will be elected by the Council of Ministers and subject to approval by the Global Parliament.  For the most part, the President of the Free U.N. will simply be a spokesperson for the organization, so the office will be largely ceremonial.  The only authority the President will command will be the authority to choose a person in the Global Parliament to be the Prime Minister and charge him or her with the task of forming a cabinet.  This is the power vested in the heads of state in all parliamentary democracies, be they presidents or constitutional monarchs, such as Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom.  I do not envision, nor do I recommend, any one person having the kind of power that the President of the United States has. 

The Global Supreme Court

All democratic governments have an independent judicial branch, and so should the Free United Nations.  The Global Supreme Court that I envision will perform the tasks currently performed by the current U.N.'s International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.  It will also be tasked with determining a nation-state's eligibility to be a member of the organization.

The Making of International Law in the Free United Nations

As I see it, measures to uphold, enhance or change international law should be proposed in the same way as bills meant to become laws are proposed in parliaments throughout the democratic world.  Such a measure could originate in either the Global Parliament or the Council of Ministers.  In the Global Parliament, it will be primarily the job of the Prime Minister and his or her cabinet to set the agenda on what proposals are debated and ultimately passed, just as it is in any current parliamentary democracy.  Any proposal passed by the Global Parliament would have to be approved by the Council of Ministers before becoming law.  The process could also begin in reverse, where the Council of Ministers would ratify a proposal before seeking its approval by the Global Parliament.  Basically, no proposal could become law without the consent of both the Global Parliament and the Council of Ministers.  It is my hope, however, that over time, the member states of the Free U.N. will build up a sense of trust and unity amongst each other so that eventually the Council of Ministers ceases to exist and power is placed solely in the hands of the Global Parliament, the Prime Minister and his or her cabinet. 

Upholding, Creating and Enforcing International Law

As the subheading above implies, it will be the right and duty of the Free United Nations to uphold international law and facilitate the creation of new international law if need be.  These are essentially the same things that the current U.N. is supposed to do, but has largely failed to do.  In theory, the current U.N. is also supposed to enforce international law by force of arms, if necessary.  Many people don't know it, but the U.N. was originally designed to have a military force of its own.  This never came to fruition, however, so the U.N. is reliant on the military forces of its member states to do the enforcing.  And as history has shown, this formula for enforcing international law hasn't worked very well.

The Free U.N. that I envision will have its own military force so that it is not entirely dependent on the good will of its members.  How big this force will be and what equipment it will be armed with will obviously be subject to agreement by the members of the new organization.  The Free U.N. force would be under the command of the Council of Ministers.  It will be the sole discretion of the Council of Ministers to authorize the use of force.

Financing the Free United Nations

How does the current United Nations finance itself?  Well, basically it's dependent on its members to pay their agreed-upon annual dues.  Unfortunately, this formula hasn't worked too well, and so it's no surprise that the U.N. is often tight for money.

So how will the Free United Nations finance itself?  Well, since I envision the Free U.N. working very much like a government, I would recommend that it finance itself the same way any government does: through taxes.  Giving the current U.N. taxing powers is an idea that's been floating around for quite some time.  But it's an idea that can't gain traction because of the U.N.'s reputation for being unaccountable and undemocratic.  Now of course, everyone hates paying taxes, but most of us in the democratic world accept the burden of taxes because we know it pays for a lot of the things that we need, like schools, hospitals, police and so forth.  We also know that the folks who make us pay taxes are the folks that we choose to put in power.  I believe, therefore, that people in the democratic world would be willing to pay taxes to a Free U.N., knowing that the organization functions democratically and that it is an effective tool of global governance. 

How Can We Create The Free United Nations?

It will obviously be up to the leaders of the free world to create the Free United Nations that I envision, or something similar.  I myself do not have any political power beyond that of an ordinary citizen of the world, nor do I aspire to any political office in the future.  So for now, all I can do is share my ideas and hope that the leaders of the world's democracies start considering alternatives to the mess that we call the United Nations.


Friday, 1 May 2015

The Haredi Extortion Machine Returns

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has almost finished putting together his new coalition government, but at a heavy price.  In order to get Haredi parties Shas and United Torah Judaism to join his new government, he's had to agree to some very expensive demands.  And who's going to pay for these demands?  Well, the hardworking Israeli taxpayer of course!  Yes, unfortunately, the Haredi extortion machine has returned after a brief hiatus where they were kept out of Netanyahu's last government.  So basically, every Israeli who works for a living and contributes to society is going to have to pay so that Haredim can continue to sit in their synagogues and study the Torah all day.  Sound familiar?  It should, because the Haredi parties have been extorting money from the gainfully employed Israeli taxpayer for decades.

So what exactly does Israel's Joe the taxpayer have to give the Haredi parties this time?  Well, how about a billion shekels to fund Haredi education institutions.  And are these institutions going to teach the three Rs or any other practical skills that will allow Haredi children to get a job in the future?  Nope, because the attitude of the Haredi parties is, "we don't need no stinkin' math!  We don't need to go out and get a job like everyone else.  We'll just sit in our synagogues and peruse the Torah all day while you suckers in the Israeli taxpaying public pay to feed and clothe us.  Oh, and did we mention, you're also going to have to pay for more child allowances so that we can continue to breed like rabbits and have more children that will sit and study the Torah all day while pigging out at the trough of the Israeli taxpayer."  A full description of what all of what you hardworking Israelis are going to have to pay the Haredi extortionists can be found here.

Unfortunately, Prime Minister Netanyahu, doesn't have much of a choice but to bring the Haredi parties on board.  Not doing so would likely mean forming a unity government with the lefties in the Zionist Union - the same lefties that basically want to hand over the core of the Biblical Jewish homeland to the Palestinians so that they can shoot rockets at us from Ramallah and Nablus instead of just Gaza.  And since Bibi is thankfully a leader that will not compromise on Israel's security, he has no choice but to bite the bullet and give the extortionists in the Haredi parties whatever they want.  It's a situation that, for lack of a better term, really sucks, but as the French say, c'est la vie.