Don’t steal, the government hates competition; The wave of censorship; The civil marriage bluff; The list of shame – four comments on the situation.

Israbluff: The Chief Rabbi – the one of the kidnap and assault, not the one of the bribery and molestation – surely laughed all the way to the office, if he bothered to get there at all. The “breakthrough” he agreed on with Minister of Justice Friedman, according to which those who are not a part of any millet will be allowed to marry each other in a civil ceremony, only served to strengthen him.

When the Rabbinate allows civil marriage “only to those forbidden from being married by the rabbinate” it gives up nothing. Quite the opposite. It absolves itself of a headache. And the Government of Israel? It made another racist step to preserve the Jewish endogamy – the fear of “blood mixing”. Jews, everybody knows, should only marry Jews. And the latest decision staves off any concern that a kosher Jewish woman might marry some “irreligious”. The Rabbinate now has a wonderful excuse for preventing the marriage. Let the uncircumcised marry one of his own. Now that there is a “solution”, the danger of mixed marriages is dramatically reduced.

It is no coincidence that this decision bears a close resemblance to the way converts and born-again Jews are treated in orthodox and ultra-orthodox societies: they are asked to marry their own. Otherwise murmurs ensue, and occasionally a little violence. And since we are a Jewish state – i.e. misanthropic – there are now in Israel 300,000 more people, who are semi-officially defined as having lesser rights. It is very clear why Amar agreed to that. It is completely unclear why Friedman agreed to it. Perhaps he was too busy scheming against Beinisch.

Third time a charm: A strange wave is sweeping through the Knesset recently, as it tries to censor left and right. There was bill 892, by Yehiel “brain in the warehouse” Hazan, which fell through; Minister of Communications Atias proposed a slightly different version of it; Collette Avital proposed the hideously moronic proposal to not only ban the use of holocaust symbols in debates, but also to incarcerate those who do; and all were outdone by that match made in moronic heaven, Yuval Steinitz and Danny Yatom.

These two clowns proposed a bill that bans publication of pictures taken in public without the consent of all concerned. In one swift blow they destroyed journalistic photography in Israel, to say nothing of televised news, since, technically, everyone covering a demonstration will need the approval of all those present in order to release the pictures or video. Not to mention that if one photographs a policeman brutalizing a demonstrator – not a rare event in these places – then technically, the officer can claim that the photograph offends him (which is true enough) and prevent its publication.

Moreover, this idiotic bill destroys not only journalistic photography, but photography as a whole. If I walk down the street, and see someone doing something interesting or wearing a unique expression, I would not be able to post the picture to Flickr without approval of the man himself, and anyone else in the frame. Photographers will be asked to focus on flowers from now on.

It is unclear what Yuval “launching missiles to God” Steinitz and Danny “Whistling ping pong balls” Yatom wanted to achieve with this bill. After all it is unlikely, I hope, that this stupid proposal will survive a preliminary reading. So what is the point? What is it good for.

No one may break the law, except the government: I only noticed this late – It so happens that the government insists it has a right to employ companies violating labor laws. I would have called it new and shocking, hadn’t the government tried to pass an amendment to the minimum wage law at Nov. 2003, that will make it the only employer exempt from it.

And the situation is no better when the government isn’t the felon: Only ten violations of the minimum wage law where prosecuted at 2006, according to Ha’aretz reporter Ruthi Sinai. That same year, a routine investigation by the ministry of industry, trade and labor showed that 92% of employers violate labor laws. This is what happens when there are exactly 22 inspectors for all the country’s employers.

The ministry of finance opposes adding inspectors, and not without reason. When they speak of “a free market”, they mean the freedom of action of the 19 families. The rest have the freedom to sleep under the bridge, with the ministry of finance cutting their leeway every year. American style capitalism, third world level conception of human rights – that is probably a concoction unique to Israel.

The list of shame: The list of MKs who voted for the JNF law has been published. 16 of them are from the Kadima party, the center of all centers. Three Gil MKs, which is officially a part of Kadima, supported it as well. I would say that such a strong support from the ruling party practically guarantees it will be made into law.

The most bitter disappointment is Ami Ayalon, one of the two Labor MKs who supported the bill (the other being Shalom Simhon, the Moshavim representative). Pity, I had high hopes of him. It seems like Meretz is the only option left, alas. They don’t even have a branch in Petach Tikva.

(This was posted on Friends of George on July 20 2007, and was kindly translated by Yair Mahalalel).

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