LIFE IN ISRAEL 
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LIFE IN ISRAEL

LIFE IN ISRAEL

By: Julian Heicklen

Donna Hancock, the editor of Freedom’s Phoenix E-zine, dedicated this issue to the future of freedom. The United States has become a very totalitarian country since 9-11. The country is near collapse. A plausible solution is not being invoked. Two issues are looming which will wreak havoc. One of these is gun regulation and restriction. The more menacing is the inevitable financial collapse.

My move for freedom already started when I emigrated to Israel about one year ago. In many ways Israel and the United States are similar, but there are some clear differences.

DEMOGRAPHICS

In Israel, the official languages are Hebrew and Arabic, but English and Russian are very popular, and many native Israelis can speak them. Many other languages are spoken also.

In 2009, the ethnic groups were 75.6% Jews, 20% Arabs, and 4.4% others. Of the Arabs, 82% were Muslims, and 9% each were Druze or Christians.  Other ethnic groups made up the other 4.4% of the population.

In 2008, the religious groups were 75.5% Jews, 16.8% Muslims, 2.1 % Christians, 1.7% Druze, and 3.9% unclassified.

The financial situation is better in Israel than in the United States. Unemployment rates currently are 7.90% in the United States and 6.90% in Israel. I have been in Israel less than a year, but the value of the dollar has dropped from a high of 4.06 to 3.68 shekels on February 20, 2013.

GOVERNMENT

The United States has a Congress to make laws and an executive branch to apply  those  laws. Israel  has  a  President,  Shimon  Peres, but  his  position  is ceremonial, like that of the Queen of England. In Israel, the laws are made by the Parliament and executed by the cabinet, which is composed of members of Parliament from the majority coalition.

The United States has a two party system, so one party usually is in control of Congress. This means that it is relatively easy to pass most legislation. In Israel, a political party only needs 2 percent of the vote to get seated. Currently there are 37 political parties, of which 15 were represented in the outgoing Parliament. The largest party had 27 out of the 120 seats. This means that it is extremely difficult to get anything done.

The Israel population complains about the inability of the Knesset (Parliament) to get anything done. It fails to realize that this is the good news. It minimizes the encroachment on freedom.   There are 2 issues on which a vast majority of Parliament agrees. These are that Israel needs a strong military to survive, and that Israel is a Jewish state where every Jew in the World is welcome to come and be a citizen. However, even these issues have their conflicts.

Israel and the United States are similar, but there are some clear differences. In Israel, a license is required to own any gun, but any law-abiding adult who has had firearms training can get a license. As Israelis routinely serve in the military, nearly all adults have had the necessary training. The streets are crawling with 18-21 year-old soldiers with assault rifles. Between 1995 and 2011, the homicide rate varied from 2.10 to 3.64 per 100,000. However, in only 3 of those years did the rate exceed 3.0 per 100,000. By contrast, the United States with much stricter gun ownership requirements, had homicide rates which dropped steadily from 8.2 to 4.7/100,000 over the same time period.

ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCE

The military situation requires that “everyone” serve in the military after graduating high school or when they become 18 years of age.   The men are drafted for 3 years; the women for 2 years. As is usually the case, “everyone” does not mean everyone.  Those with certain mental or physical problems are exempt. So are Muslims, which comprise about 17% of the population. However non-Jewish sects do serve.

A detailed description is given by Wikepedia at:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Israel_Defense_Forces#Druze_and_Circassians. Israel, being a Jewish state, has a majority of Jewish soldiers. Druze and Circassian men are subject to mandatory conscription to the IDF just like Israeli Jews.

By law, all Israeli citizens are subject to conscription. The Defense Minister has complete discretion to grant exemption to individual citizens or classes of citizens. A long-standing policy dating to Israel's early years extends an exemption to all other Israeli minorities (most notably Israeli Arabs). However, there is a long- standing government policy of encouraging Bedouins to volunteer and of offering them various inducements, and in some impoverished Bedouin communities a military career seems one of the few means of (relative) social mobility available. Also, Muslims and Christians are accepted as volunteers, even at an age greater than 18.

From among non-Bedouin Arab citizens, the number of volunteers for military service"some  Christian Arabs and even a few Muslim Arabs"is minute, and the government makes no special effort to increase it. Six Israeli Arabs have received orders of distinction as a result of their military service; of them the most famous is a Bedouin officer, Lieutenant Colonel Abd el-Majid Hidr (also known as Amos Yarkoni), who received the Order of Distinction. Vahid el Huzil was the first Bedouin to be a battalion commander.  Recently, a Bedouin officer was promoted to the rank of Colonel.

The Wikipedia web page continues a detailed discussion concerning the Israel military in relation to: Ethiopian Jews, Haredim (orthodox Jews), LGBT people, Deaf and hard-of-hearing people, Vegan, Volunteers, and Overseas volunteers.

FIREARMS


 
As mentioned earlier, a license is required to own any gun in Israel, but any law-abiding adult who has had firearms training can get a license. Gun laws in Israel are discussed at: http://www.thehighroad.org/archive/index.php/t-263328.html. Soldiers keep their rifles and carry if unloaded.   The Israel Department of the Interior makes notification to the general public the requirements necessary for obtaining a permit to possess a firearm:
1. Applicant must be a permanent resident of Israel for 3 consecutive years prior to making application for a firearms permit.

2. Applicant years of age.

3. The permit request must be for personal use, not to engage in the business of firearms sales.

4. Applicant must fall into one of the following categories:
a. Part-time reservist (volunteer) for 3 years- may own 1 handgun
b. Such a reservist (volunteer) is a member of a gun club- may own
1rifle
c.  Professional, licensed  public  transportation driver,  transporting a minimum of 5 passengers- may own 1 handgun
d.  Licensed  animal  control  officer-  may  own  2  hunting  rifles, *not* full  automatic  weapons,  or  semi-automatic  weapons  with  a limited capacity magazine.
e. Full-time dealer of jewelry or large sums of cash or valuables-may own 1 handgun
West Bank and Gaza Strip Settlers:
1. A resident in a militarily strategic buffer zone, essential to the security of the
State of Israel - may own 1 handgun

2. A business owner in these geographic areas- may own 1 handgun

Veterans:
1. Veterans of the Regular Army honorably discharged with the rank of non- commissioned officer, and veterans of the Reserve Army with the rank of regimental commander- may own 1 handgun

2. Retired law enforcement officers with the rank of sergeant- may own 1handgun
1handgun

Individuals:
Upon presenting documentation that one is about to receive a souvenir, a prize, an inheritance, or an award of appreciation from the Israel military.

FOREIGN POLICY AND THE JEWISH STATE

Israel is a dedicated Jewish Zionist country.  This is no secret. Much of the rest of the world objects to that, though the countries that object the most are themselves religious states.   Interestingly, the United States, which has complete religious freedom, though a strong Christian influence, is the strongest ally of Israel.

Any Jew in the world is welcome, even encouraged, to come live in Israel. My airplane ticket was paid by the Israel government. I was provided with a stipend for 6 months to help me get settled.

However, there is conflict over who is a Jew.  The criterion is if your mother is, or was, Jewish; or if your conversion was proper. If your mother is Jewish and alive, usually there is no problem. However this is not the usual situation. I made immigration when I was 80 years old.  My mother was not alive. Nor was anyone else who could prove that I was Jewish, except for my younger sister, and even she could not be 100% sure. Proving my Jewishness was the most difficult part of my immigration.

Non-Jews come to Israel to live, though usually only temporarily, but normally cannot become citizens. The major exceptions are people fleeing terror in their home countries. They usually are accepted, since the Jews remember that the holocaust occurred because other countries, including the United States, would not accept Jews who wished to flee NAZI Europe in the 1930s and 1940s.

Between January 1989 and December 2002, 1.1 million Russians immigrated to Israel (including 100,000 of whom emigrated to third countries shortly afterward).  According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, 240,000 of the immigrants, or 26%, were not considered Jews under Jewish law, but were eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return due to Jewish ancestry or m a r r i a g e t o a J e w  ( h t t p : / / e n . w i k i p e d i a . o r g / w i k i / Russian_Jewish_immigration_to_Israel_in_the_1990s).

Tourism is a major industry. Tourists are welcome and encouraged. The latest statistics show that in total 2.7 million tourists visited Israel in 2009, which is a drop of 11 percent compared with 2008, but higher than for any other year.

Israel’s major, almost exclusive, foreign policy is to survive. Much of the rest of the world wants the Jewish state to vanish, by war or terror if necessary. As a result, Israel has the 17th largest army in the world (about 750.000 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_number_of_troops#List). It is a citizen army, because the  country’s total population in September 2012 was 7,933,200.

Israel is considered an apartheid country by much of the world, which indeed it is. It is the ghetto where the rest of the world is forcing its Jews to go. Usually the only place for them to go is Israel. I am a perfect example. Interestingly, the Muslims are the group most resentful of Israel, but they are the main ones driving Jews out of the other countries and into Israel. The Muslims are the leading Zionists in the world!

SOCIAL ISSUES

Israel is a socialist country, but with some unusual twists.

Medical
Israel has an unusual system of medical service. It is part socialist and part capitalist. There are 4 medical services which the government supports in proportion to the number of members.  Each Israeli chooses a service and pays a nominal yearly fee. Members can leave one group and transfer to another as they wish. Within each medical group there are several doctors of each specialty from which the members can choose. Alternatively, no-one is compelled to join a medical group, and can deal directly with a doctor of his or her choice and pay that doctor’s or hospital’s fees.



The government pays the medical costs, but the individuals choose their own medical service and doctors.  Since the groups get paid by the number of members, but not the direct medical costs, they have to keep their clients satisfied and keep the actual medical costs to a minimum at the same time.  I am an old man with all the accompanying medical problems.  I have seen many doctors in my year in Israel. So far this system has worked just fine for me.

The only problem is that if you have an appointment with a doctor in a hospital, there usually is a long wait. Often this wait can be 2 hours or more. Likewise you wait at least 1/2  hour  in  a  post office before you see a clerk. However chairs are provided. Bring a book or your lunch. Once I complained about the wait to a nurse in the hospital. She remarked: “Isn’t it wonderful.  I am from Russia. There we waited 6 hours without chairs.”

Infrastructure
As in most countries, much of the infrastructure is built and maintained by the government.   However, the main north-south highway in Israel is a privately owned and operated toll road. It is well kept, provides rapid transportation, and is heavily used by the Israelis. It is the perfect example of the superiority of capitalism over socialism.



Sexual relations
Prostitution is legal, but marriage is highly regulated. If a person wants to rent his or her body, that is not the government’s concern, but marriage is a serious problem. Only religious marriages are permitted, and they must be performed by the government approved clergy (Rabbi, Imam, Minister, Priest, etc.). No marriages permitted by persons of different religions.

If you wish to marry someone of a different religion, or just do not want a religious marriage, it cannot be done in Israel. You go abroad, usually to Cyprus, and get married there. Then you return to Israel with a marriage recognized by the Israeli government. (Do not ask why. You would not understand anyway.)

Julian Heicklen is a retired Chemistry Professor from Penn State University. He has been a libertarian activists for many years, has spent countless hours on the steps of court buildings handing out FIJA (Fully Informed Jury Association) information, as well as being an advocate for marijuana legalization. He has been arrested and incarcerated many, many times for his efforts to educate the public of government corruption, and fled to Israel on May 22nd, 2012 as a political exile and was granted Israeli citizenship at customs. Visit his webpage at TyrranyFighters.Com and Facebook.




 
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