Amnon Levy’s scare tactics

The image above (without the correction in red) first appeared on an ambush interview of Moshe Feiglin conducted by Amnon Levy. It has since then circulated around the Internet, and a friend of mine who is disabled just sent it to me asking whether it was true or not. I’m sure she isn’t the only one asking, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to explain why it’s stupid.

Let me start by translating the four items into English:

  • Cancellation of most National Insurance payments
  • Lowering tax rates for the wealthy
  • Cancellation of tax points for single mothers and people who live in the periphery
  • Privatization of government hospitals

Cancellation of most National Insurance payments

If you are disabled and survive off of National Insurance (Bituach Leumi), that first one must scare the crap out of you. It’d scare me.

In the ZEHUT platform, after explaining the precarious nature of the Bituach Leumi system, which will eventually crash, we find the following:

The Zehut Party proposes a program of measured reduction of the responsibilities of the National Insurance Institute by employing the free market mechanisms of efficiency and competitiveness. This program is a necessary first step in rebuilding the Israeli welfare system and removing the severe risk to the economic future of Israel’s residents.

And that’s the key, really. A measured reduction. ZEHUT has no intention of tearing the system down to build it from scratch. Changes in most areas must happen gradually. Bituach Leumi is no different.

Zehut will gradually reduce the country’s insurance services. Insurance against work disability, long term care insurance and disability insurance are policies that exist in the private market. The state will gradually stop providing these services and direct residents to purchase them privately.

This is the part that Levy presumably pulled from. But he skipped the rest (the bold text is bolded in the original):

A person entitled to a pension will continue to receive it. The state, like any other insurer, cannot renounce the financial claims of its policy-holders. Every resident of Israel who was eligible for National Insurance payments before the reduction in insurance services will continue to receive the allowance, and will continue to be insured by the state, just as he was insured before the reduction of insurance services.

And finally:

Ultimately, the goal is to create a situation in which all services that National Insurance provides today, except for social services and assistance to those in need, will be purchased on the private market.

In other words, no one in need will be left to fend for themselves. We are simply going to provide people more flexibility in how they protect themselves, and encourage competition between insurers to bring down prices for that coverage.

To be clear, Levy, and his sidekick Matan Chodorov, lied through their teeth.  This was not an issue of interpretation; they flat out made up their claim, in direct contradiction to what the ZEHUT platform actually says.  It was shameful.

Lowering tax rates for the wealthy

This is true. To those who are accustomed to a system where people are penalized for earning more money, this sounds unjust. But ask yourselves: if we want a prosperous nation, why on earth would we deliberately penalize those who are the most productive? We give massive tax breaks to the high tech sector, and that area of the economy is booming. Because the best incentive for excellence and productivity is, and always has been, the reward offered.

We want a simple, low, flat tax rate for everyone. The wealthy will continue to pay more taxes than the less wealthy and the poor, simply because 20% (as an example) of a lot is more than 20% of a little. But if we have to tax income, fairness dictates that everyone pay the same part of their income.

The irony in this particular claim is that the Bituach Leumi tax is the most regressive tax in the country, but they’re complaining that ZEHUT wants to phase out Bituach Leumi in most areas.  Go figure…

Cancellation of tax points for single mothers and people who live in the periphery

This is also true. We want to cancel all tricks in the tax code. No tricksy calculations, points, or other finagling. No social engineering. If we, as a nation, decide we want to give financial assistance to those living in the periphery (for example), we’ll do it directly. Not make it part of the tax system. Mixing those together was never a good idea, and never will be.

Privatization of government hospitals

Finally, this is true as well. We don’t want the government or the kupot cholim to own hospitals. That concentration of power over Israeli citizens results in a huge amount of corruption. The Sarel Corporation is a case in point. This company used to have a monopoly on providing medical supplies to government hospitals. Hospitals were forbidden – by law – from buying their supplies from companies that charged less. As a Likud MK, Moshe Feiglin went up against Sarel because of medical cannabis (this was before the ZEHUT party even existed, for those who think the cannabis issue is just some recent trick).

The father of Likud MK (for another 10 days) Oren Hazan, who used to be in the Knesset himself, was recorded confirming collusion with Sarel and threatening Feiglin.

But I’ve gotten off topic here. The bottom line is, private hospitals will have to start out by offering the same care at the same prices that hospitals do currently, and then compete for patients. Something that can never happen while the government owns them.

What conclusions should you draw?

First, check everything.  Don’t believe anything you’re told.  Not by the media, not by me, not by Moshe Feiglin.  Check everything.  You have a brain – use it.  If you don’t have a copy of the ZEHUT platform, I’m sure someone you know does.  It’s a national best seller, and it’s not expensive.  Buy it, or borrow it.  Read it.  Don’t rely on anything anyone tells you about it.  If you have questions, there are about a million Facebook groups where you can ask them.  Or you can ask me directly.

Second of all, you’re going to be getting text messages in addition to hostile media coverage.  No one likes things they aren’t familiar with.  If you get a text making a shocking claim about Feiglin or any of the ZEHUT candidates, I refer you to the first thing.  Check it out yourself.  When ZEHUT has poll results showing it getting 7 seats and Bennett/Shaked and Meretz each get 5 seats, they will attack. It’s in their nature. They’re afraid, and they will do whatever they need to in order to try and dissuade you from voting for the only party that can bring real change – the good kind – to Israel.

About the Author
Lisa Liel lives in Karmiel with her family. She is a member of the Zehut party, works as a programmer/developer, reads a lot, watches too much TV, does research in Bronze/Iron Age archaeology of the Middle East, and argues a lot on Facebook.