don’t leave home without it

One has to wonder if sometimes the Kafka nightmare was not a projection of a hebrew bureaucracy of dystopic proportions. A dark world of inscrutable disconnect…..

From Steven Plaut:

You might have seen that famous movie “The Terminal” with Tom Hanks, where the character played by Hanks gets stuck in an airport in┬álimbo for a long period, living there, because of bureaucratic idiocy. Well, that ain’t nothing compared to what Israel’s pointy-headed┬ábureaucrats are capable of doing!

Robert Capa. Read More:

I thought that the following story is probably the best illustration of what is REALLY wrong with Israeli economic policy.

As you know, there are a handful of Jews still in Yemen, and every once in a while a few manage to get out quietly. Well, according to the weekly “Shvi’i” this week, a religious magazine, one such Yemenite Jew named Yosef Hamadi managed to make it all the way to Ben Gurion
Airport near Tel Aviv from Yemen. The problem was that the local Israeli customs officials wanted to refuse to allow him in. Why? Because Hamadi had brought with him a Torah Scroll from Yemen, and there are high tariffs or import taxes on Torah scrolls brought into Israel, probably to protect the wages of the local Sofrim. There are also high import taxes on food, designed to make it expensive for Israelis to eat, and on some construction materials, making it expensive to build housing.

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In fact, the new arrival from Yemen almost played Tom Hanks. He was ordered to pay 7200 NIS in customs taxes to bring the scroll in with him. Otherwise the scroll would be blocked from entering, as would be he, unless he left it behind. Israel, you see, still has a mercantilist 18th century set of policies from before the British Corn Laws governing imports. These contribute to the high cost of living and the perpetuation of monopolies and cartels inside of Israel and even to the gross distortion of the exchange value of the shekel.

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Eventually Gilad Mizrachi, the Deputy Minister of the Environment in Israel, personally paid the import tax so that the Torah scroll and
its owner could enter Israel. Read More:"">


Mr. Yakub says the operation saved his family from intimidation that had made life in Yemen unbearable. Violence toward the country’s small remaining Jewish community began to intensify last year, when one of its most prominent members was gunned down outside his house. But the mission also hastens the demise of one of the oldest remaining Jewish communities in the Arab world.Jews are believed to have reached what is now Yemen more than 2,500 years ago as traders for King Solomon. They survived — and at times thrived — over centuries of change, including the spread of Islam across the Arabian Peninsula.

“They were one of the oldest exiled groups out of Israel,” says Hayim Tawil, a Yeshiva University professor who is an expert on Yemeni Jewry. “This is the end of the Jewish Diaspora of Yemen. That’s it.” Centuries of near total isolation make Yemeni Jews a living link with the ancient world.

Many can recite passages of the Torah by heart and read Hebrew, but can’t read their native tongue of Arabic. They live in stone houses, often without running water or electricity. One Yemeni woman showed up at the airport expecting to board her flight with a live chicken. Through the centuries, the Jews earned a living as merchants, craftsmen and silversmiths known for designing djanbias, traditional daggers that only Muslims are allowed to carry. Jewish musical compositions became part of Yemeni culture, played at Muslim weddings and festivals….

…Ancient stone homes dot the town. Electricity is erratic; oil lamps are common. Water arrives via truck. Most homes lack a TV or a refrigerator. The cell phone is the only common modern device. Some families receive financial aid from Hasidic Jewish groups in Brooklyn and London, which has enabled them to buy cars…For fun, children play with pebbles and chase family chickens around the house. At Jewish religious schools, they sit at wooden tables to study Torah and Hebrew. They aren’t taught subjects like science, or to read and write in Arabic, Yemen’s official language.

“I showed them a multiplication table and I don’t think they had ever seen one,” says Stefan Kirschner, a New York University graduate student who visited Raida in August 2008 and says he sat in a few classes. …Then, on Dec. 11, a lone gunman shot dead Moshe Nahari, a father of nine and well-known figure in Raida’s Jewish community. Abdul-Aziz al-Abdi, a retired Air Force pilot, pumped several bullets into Mr. Nahari after the Hebrew teacher dismissed his demands that he convert to Islam. In June, the shooter was sentenced to death. Read More:

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