CHAG SAMEACH! Or translated, "Happy Holidays" as we arrive to another Passover when all of Israel throughout the world will be sitting down to the "Pesach Seder" meal on the evening of April 9th.
At this Biblical Feast, we will be following the commandment to remember how God took a bunch of Hebrew serfs, enslaved by the Satanic symbol of Pharaoh and bought their freedom through the commandment to slay thousands of lambs - one for each household of the children of Israel.
It was on this same day, many centuries later, when the lambs were being slain, that according to John 19:14, Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah was slain on the cross to secure the freedom of Israel - and, by extension, the whole world from their slavery .
ISRAEL STILL ENSLAVED
Nevertheless, Israel is still today in great slavery to many different slave masters because she has not yet applied the blood to the doorpost and walked out of her spiritual Egypt.
Many of our readers ask us what to pray for in connection with Israel, her people and the redemption that God has promised. We therefore bring you the following facts so that you may, through your prayers, intercede in behalf of this nation.
One form of slavery is the economic system of socialism which has such a hammerlock on Israel's economy that the nation has fallen into a third world standard of living for a majority of its citizens, much like the poor nations of Eastern Europe.
Dr. Ezra Sohar, head of the Department of Medicine at the famous Tel-Hashomer Hospital in Tel Aviv, and editor-in-chief of Meurav Yerushalmi, a popular weekly news magazine, has written an expose of modern Israel's odyssey into the tar pits of Soviet style Marxist socialism.
"RESCUE" FROM VICIOUS PERSECUTION
At the turn of this century, Russia exploded into Revolution. The Russian Jews, having had a dreadful history of unrelenting persecution for several hundred years under the "Christian" Czars of Russia, genuinely believed that when the Russian Revolution overthrew the Czars and preached "equality for all working men", that a New Era of hope and freedom had dawned.
The Russian Jews soaked up Marxism, seeing it as the ultimate champion for human rights and freedom. Having lost their ability to discern spiritually between the true and the false, they fell for the "on paper" version of humanistic philosophy. (It works in theory!)
Even when Lenin consolidated his power, and the Revolution took on an increasingly anti-Semitic turn, with many Jews having to flee for their lives, the Russian Jews still believed in the veracity of Marx' ideology.
CREATING THEIR DREAM
Between 1905 and 1915 some 35,000 of these Russian refugees found their way to what was then called Palestine. They became the founding fathers of Israel. They set about to create their dream of a totally just society, which could be brought about, they thought, by a highly centralized, Socialist and collective government. And create such a government they did.
Ezra Sohar in his 240 page book, "Israel's Dilemma: Why Israel Is Falling Apart and How To Put It Back Together", describes how this dream has turned into a nightmare of a graft ridden, bureaucratic monstrosity that defies imagination.
GOVERNMENT SOVIET STYLE
To make this "dream" come true, the early pioneers set up a Soviet style political apparatus. Centralized control of the economy was considered of paramount importance. So in the 1920's the Histadrut or General Federation of Labor was formed.
This, however, was not a normal labor union. It was intended to "embrace all pursuits of the Palestinian Jewish proletariat" such as agricultural settlements, a "Worker's Bank", schools, workers' kitchens, national construction firms, cultural organizations and sports clubs. Bringing Israel's teachers under its umbrella was the important step to consolidating control over the educational system.
The ultimate goal, as David Ben Gurion, himself one of the early Russian immigrants, said in 1930, "We are now going to form one united labor party which will direct the population's political, educational and cultural activities.
THE STATE TAKES CONTROL
By the time the State of Israel was established in 1948, socialism dominated the political and economic life. As the British pulled out, the government took over the railroads, airlines, shipping, postal services, telegraph and telephone. It even, for a while, restricted ownership of private cars. It became owner of 93% of all the land of Israel. Think of it! Only 7% of Israel's land is privately owned!
Control, planning and supply of water gave the government power over what socialist oriented cooperative farms and kibbutzim could be established. For example, no one today can purchase a private farm. Marketing of agriculture produce is controlled, Soviet style, from the top.
A radio and television authority was set up by the Knesset.Two hundred major government corporations were created by the government such as Israel Aircraft Industry and the Dead Sea Works.
Private enterprise is limited to those which qualify as "approved enterprises." Many of these, however, are sheltered from competition by receiving monopoly status. Thus, directly or indirectly the government is the "exclusive importer of basic commodities such as meat, sugar, fuel, grain, edible oils and more. Energy such as electricity and gasoline is government controlled. We must readily note that there is one significant difference between Israel's and the Soviet Block's socialism. The latter was established and maintained by the gun, while Israel has preserved its democratic nature.
However, economically all the problems that have been so publicized in Russia's and Eastern Europe's economies are equally present in Israel's.
HOW TO START A BUSINESS IN TEL AVIV
For example, the number of permits required by Israeli citizens for mundane pursuits is surely a record high in the democratic world. To open a business in Tel Aviv, for example, one needs the following permits which take many months to obtain. Often several permits are required for the very same purpose.
First, the would be businessman must present an application to the Business Licensing Department. Then, he must obtain approval of the Planning and Building Department, the Fire Department, the Ecology Department, the Veterinary Service, the Public Health Department, the Police Department, the Ministry of Labor, the Ministry of Health and any other agencies as warranted.
THE COST OF A HOUSE IS 50% TAX
"Housing costs in Israel equal those in Southern California or Manhattan any day, with average Israeli salaries a tiny fraction of their American counterparts. The building of a house or apartment must include "land property tax, construction property tax, municipal construction and development fee, customs and purchase tax on construction materials; value added tax; purchase tax paid by the buyer; and land registration fee. Together they account for 33% of the price of an apartment. In addition, large sums are paid out for electricity and phone hookups...
"On top of all these is income tax. The labor component of construction is about 50% of the total cost. The income tax authorities estimate contractors' profit margins at about 30% and tax them commensurately. It follows that over half of the price of an apartment comprises taxes. This fails to take account of the excessive price of cement and iron, which result from both Histadrut monopolies."1
Land averages $8,000 to $25,000 per room in Jerusalem, a little less in Tel Aviv. Thus, one eighth of an acre in Tel Aviv costs between $50,000 and $150,000 for residences.There are areas where one eighth of an acre fetches prices as high as $250,000.
IS THE ARMY GUILTY?
The government claims that the real culprit is defense spending. Yet, in late January 1987, the Minister of Defense commented that the defense budget, not including American aid, consumes only 7% of GNP.
Other economic experts assess the overall defense budget at different percentiles. The Bank of Israel reports that the entire defense burden comes to some $5.5 billion annually. But if you subtract America's net aid of $3 billion and Diaspora Jewish support of another half billion, the bill is left at $2 billion or approximately 8% of GNP.2
Besides, the army pays duty on all her imported military equipment, thus reimbursing the Treasury for a substantial proportion of the defense budget.
What is the result of this type of government on the State of Israel? Here are the facts.
ISRAEL VERSUS TAIWAN
As case in point, Sohar compares Israel and Taiwan: "The two countries have much in common. Both are new countries, established at roughly the same time. Both were founded by immigrants who put ashore at a small resource-poor new home. Both have to bear onerous defense burdens.Taiwan, however, has not received nearly as much financial support from abroad as Israel. Today Israel has the world's highest per-capita foreign and domestic debt and an annual trade deficit of $2.4 billion.
"In Taiwan, by contrast exports exceed imports by far, and foreign currency reserves stand at $45 billion. Those who would attribute the astounding differences to low wages in Taiwan should know that industrial workers in Israel do not earn much more. Just as Taiwan and Israel exist under similar physical and other conditions, so are their economic systems different. Taiwan practices economic freedom built on competition, low taxes, and a fit return on ambition and effort."3
THE SYNDROME: POOR WORK, POOR WAGES
Today 40% of Israel's workers make less than $450 a month. In fact, in 1985 there were factories paying less than $150 per month, the same as in underdeveloped countries.4 But unlike such countries, the cost of living is much higher in Israel than in the U.S.
Israel's Labor Productivity Institutes found that Israeli workers are about half as productive as their Western counterparts. The President of the Manufacturers' Association blamed this on feather bedding which he estimated at thirty to forty per cent.
A newspaper man's eye witness account: "They're fixing a sidewalk. A municipal van is parked along side. The driver's listening to music. The foreman sits in the shade. Two workers are at work...Had the city hired a private contractor to fix the sidewalk, the driver would be laying the flagstones. One man instead of four.5
In 1987, "the government's domestic debt stood at $47 billion, and its foreign debt was some $16 billion out of the countries total foreign debt of $24 billion. The total $63 billion is roughly two and one-half years' GNP.6
No wonder Israel's debt per capita is approximately $15,000. That's more than a world record; it's several times greater than the per-capita liabilities of major debtor countries such as Algeria, Brazil and Mexico...It is clear that the debt repayment burden is more than the Israeli economy can bear, and that it throttles any possibility of recovery."7
OUR PERSONAL OBSERVATION
The government, desperate for funds, has become a harasser of its people, actually ordering forced entry into homes, threatening to, or actually removing furniture, rugs and other valuables for those who according to their books, have not paid up.
Tax agents set up road blocks, and impound cars of those on their black lists. Citizens making a few hundred dollars a month may receive official letters demanding the equivalent of $10,000 or even $50.000 extra taxes. When the citizen rushes to the tax office (no business can be transacted by mail or phone) they will explain that they were just attempting to scare the person into confessing what he really owes due to other sources of income the government may not know about. Bank accounts are regularly frozen without warning. An authoritative letter from a letter usually rescinds the orders.
This unbearable national financial load, the bloated grasping bureaucracy and poverty level wages, together with restrictive government controls (Israel has no constitution) is a definite hindrance to the Gospel. Believing Israelis are greatly impeded in their efforts to give their time, finances and energy to tile establishing of congregations and training of leaders to evangelize and disciple. That is why the Messianic Jews of Israel need your prayers and your support. TO BE CONTINUED.
1 Israel's Dilemma: Why Israel Is Falling Apart And How To Put It Back Together, by Ezra Sohar, M.D., Shapolsky Publishers. page 161-162; 2 ibid., p. 129; 3 ibid., p. 200-201; 4 ibid., p. 137; 5 ibid.. p. 150; 6 ibid., p. 178; 7 ibid., p. 181
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Report on Funds for the Berersfords
We want to praise God for His people who have shared with Gary and Shirley Beresford, who are standing in the Supreme Court of Israel for the right of Messianic Jews to immigrate to Israel.
We wish to report to you that Maoz supporters sent $3,100 for the Beresfords personally. We were informed that the week we sent the check in full, they had their six month rent bill due, with no funds to pay it.
The amount of the bill was $3,100! (As you have figured out by now, rent is very high in Israel as is everything else.)
NEWS UPDATE: ANOTHER $981 HAS COME IN SINCE FEBRUARY 28!
The amount that friends of this ministry have sent in for the Beresford Supreme Court Case thus far is $7,447 out of a total of $15,000 needed. One Messianic Organization sent $5,000, another Jewish congregation sent $500. A Messianic congregation in France sent 3,000 French Franks (about $500). We are so very grateful for those of you who are taking a part of this load on yourselves by your prayers, your gifts and your concern. We believe God sees it all and keeps His Books.
RETURNING TO ISRAEL
As we have mentioned a number of times, we will be returning to Israel in August, after having been in the States for a period of two years. We trust by then we will have laid the foundation needed for raising up a Yeshiva (Bible School) in Israel.
After we had been here some time, we learned that because we as Israeli citizens were going back to Israel only after a period of two years, we would be given “returning Israeli’ status.This means that we are allowed to ship to Israel one large container tax free. (The purpose of this law is to encourage our roving Israelis to return home!)
This was a wonderful surprise to us, because most of our appliances and furniture are 13 to 20 years old, with little chance of replacing most of them because of the 100 to 300% customs on such items. Now anything we purchase before July, we can ship.
We do not enjoy asking our friends for personal needs, because there are always so many great needs in Israel. But we would much appreciate the chance to take some things back to Israel.
We often entertain visiting speakers and co-workers, not to mention multitudes of Israeli guests. Since this is an important role in our ministry, these tools will better enable us to serve.
So here is a list of our "priorities". Remember that in Israel appliances must be 220 volts 50 cycles. Therefore, they can only be bought in export type stores which sell especially to overseas customers. Their prices are somewhat higher than, say, Sears. But in no way do they compare to Israeli prices!
Appliances Furniture at wholesale prices
Refrigerator $935. Sofa $475.
Washer $495. Loveseat $425.
Dryer $365. Chair $180.
Dishwasher $595. Swivel Chair $220. Microwave $325. Chair $220.
If someone of our friends would wish to give for a specific item that would be wonderful. And if we should receive funds twice for the same item, we would apply it to the next most important item...and let you know!
We are offering a special cassette this month to our supporters. This cassette, titled, "The Relationship of Jew and Gentile in the Body of the Messiah" by Ari Sorko- Ram, we believe will be very helpful in understanding how we can work together as Jew and Gentile to bring revival to this nation and the nation of Israel.
If you or a friend has had difficulty in understanding how the two go together, this tape will help clarify this challenging issue. It is available to our contributors who request it.
We gratefully acknowledge all of you who on a monthly or regular basis contribute to the many outreaches of this ministry.
In our Messiah's Service,
Ari & Shira Sorko-Ram
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