Dear Finance Minister Lapid,
When I was a high school senior I was failing math so miserably that my mom had no choice but to send me to a tutor. He was a tall, burly, one armed Holocaust survivor with a bushy head of grey hair that reeked of cigarettes. His wife was always brewing coffee in the other room and listening to classical music, and as much as I hated math, I enjoyed the exotic sights and sounds. It made me feel like I was a tourist in a foreign land. He would use his good arm to help me solve an equation and when I interrupted him he would snap his pencil in disgust and yell an old Yiddish saying at me (and I translate from Hebrew): Do you know who deserves to see a work that is half done? Pause. I think about it. No, I would say. I don’t. He would cough and storm out to his living room to smoke a cigarette with his coffee. I passed my matriculation exam. Barely.
Finance Minister Lapid. I may not be a math genius but this doesn’t add up. You promised to champion the cause of the overburdened middle class and make sweeping social reforms, like affordable housing for young couples. As it stands, our dream of home ownership is as realistic a possibility as a blind, dyslexic monkey banging out Shakespeare’s “Richard III” on a typewriter.
Your first actions as Finance minister were deficit reduction measures that hurt us, the middle class, your voters, hardest. You raised the VAT to 18%, a cruel edict that upped the already prohibitive cost of living in this country. Your cyber crew has been on Facebook damage control ever since, assuring us that you’ve only been in office for three months, that you’re still cleaning up the mess left by your predecessor MK Steinitz (Likud). Basically what you’re saying is that your work is only half done. I can dig it. After all, you know who deserves to see work that is only half done.
Since I voted for you and I really can’t afford a house/a car/a vacation/dinner at a restaurant I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt. I’ll let you finish what you’ve started but please allow me to make some suggestions that could serve to ease some of these harsh austerity measures and help you win back your voters. Feel free to use any or all of them.
A “car horn fee”. Pass a law that every time an obnoxious, inconsiderate driver in this country honks his or her horn he (or she) is forced to pay 10 shekels. It will drastically reduce noise pollution and easily add a few million to the state treasury
A “Karaoke fee”. If your obnoxious neighbors (well, maybe not uptown in North Tel Aviv where you live) feel the need to sing Middle Eastern music into the wee hours of the morning, let them pay a hundred shekels fine. Per song.
A “barbeque downstairs in the parking lot fee”. I can understand letting this one slide on Independence Day, but anybody caught grilling burgers on a makeshift bbq right beneath your window where you hang your laundry to dry (who can afford a dryer in this economy?) should pay up. A thousand shekels sounds about right. No installment plans.
Our first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, had a dream to populate the Negev desert with Jewish pioneers. Great. How about legalizing prostitution and gambling somewhere south on the Arava road and forwarding all the proceeds from these Vegas style casinos towards the deficit? With that many shekels pouring in you could lower the VAT back to what it was initially all those years ago. 4%. While you’re at it legalize marijuana too. Just think how much money the Israeli Tourist Industry could make and how much you’d save on police enforcement and prosecution.
Finally, stop spending so much tax shekels on settlements in the West Bank. I know Trade Minister Bennett is the Bulgarian cheese to to your watermelon, the espresso to your cigar, the Goldstar beer to your sunflower seeds while watching Maccabi play, but come on. Enough is enough. It’s killing the peace process. Remember that old thing?
I googled “One armed man”, “Math Teacher” and “Bushy hair” and found out what had become of my unforgettable math tutor. He wrote a bestselling children’s book (which is being optioned into a movie in Germany) about his experiences escaping the Nazis in Poland. He still lives with his wife in the same apartment in Bat Yam. Right below the article there was a link to the old Yiddish saying. Do you know who deserves to be shown a work that is half done? Apparently the answer is “a donkey “. Go figure.
Good luck, Mr. Lapid. You’re going to need it with all of us donkeys.
Jason Fredric Gilbert