Saturday, December 09, 2006

Corruption in Israel

Five hundred people were surveyed by the Israeli branch of Transparency International.

Corruption, for the purpose of the study, is defined as "the use of political or other power for the advancement of personal interests".

The results, according to a report that appeared on Dec. 12, 2006 of "Kol HaIr", one of the local papers of Tzfat, edition 640, are the following:

66% said that the current gov't does not do enough to fight corruption.

55% said that corruption negatively affects their personal quality of life.

81% said that corruption negatively affects the business enviornment.

86% said that corruption negatively affects quality of gov't.

16% said they believe that the gov't actively encourages corruption.

4% admitted to giving bribes during the past year. (We can assume that this is a very small percentage of those who actually did give bribes. Admitting to doing so is admitting to committing a crime and most people will, understandably, be reluctant to do so, even on a supposedly anonymous survey.)

Add to these results, the recent finding that 92% of Israeli businesses do not conduct themselves in accordance with labor laws.

How, I ask you HOW, can Torah flourish in such an enviornment?

Take the most well-meaning, religious man. He gets up in the morning, does netilat yadayim...has his brakhot as he dresses...goes to shul, dons t'fellin...Learns a blat Gemorrah...

Then, he goes to work. Because he has, b'li ayin hara, a family he, if he's a salaried employee, will keep his mouth shut if he sees his boss cheating. He will do what he is told, even if it is not on the "up and up". He will let himself be abused by his boss who, 92 chances out of 100 on the average, is cheating him of what is coming to him.

If he's an independent, he has to compete with others in the field. He may have loans with the banks in astronomical figures and tens of thousands of shekels is held in escrow by his suppliers.

What does that do to him?

How can he have a crooked heart and tongue all day and then be pure when he sits down to learn Torah, or when he does a mitzvah?

That is what is called: "Ablution in a mikveh while holding a serpent."

First, and I'm going to keep pestering and nudging until this is understood, first we build a just society - then we can go about the business of learning and doing Torah as we should.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

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