17 November 2006

Making charity a crime

[source]

Would you believe Israeli Defense Minister and former socialist labor leader Amir Peretz criticizing a wealthy citizen for being charitable because it’s the job of the state, and only the state, to help individuals who need it? Sheesh!

Defense Minister Amir Peretz on Thursday blasted business tycoon Arkady Gaydamak for financing a free weekend in Eilat for 800 residents of the rocket-battered western Negev town of Sderot.

“The state of Israel does not allow rich men and philanthropists to gain control from the distress of citizens,” said Peretz. “This phenomenon cannot continue. We will prepare an organized and established plan to alleviate these residents so they will not need to knock on the doors of philanthropists.”

One thing I’ve noticed in my frequent contacts with Israel and Israelis (being married to an Israeli) is that the Israeli state managed to severely damage the philanthropic impulse that once dominated Jewish life. A combination of statism taught in public schools, combined with the prevalent (and understandable) idea that one is owed something by the state after years and years of military service, has led many Israelis to conclude, completely contrary to Jewish tradition, that charity and volunteerism is for suckers. You can see how the attitude of folks like Peretz doesn’t exactly help.

Socialism requires such disintermediation. Nothing can stand between the State and its subjects, certainly not anything that might call in to question the omnicompetence of the State.

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