Everybody, and I mean everybody. From the eighteen year old kid who is conscripted into the Israeli army, to the homeless vagrant sleeping on the street, from the new immigrant from the former USSR, to the super rich, they all have one thing in common, a bank account.
Before an Israeli boy or girl is conscripted into the Israeli army he/she must open a bank account for that is the only way they can receive the meagre sum they are paid for doing one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. And that is where the rot begins. For once they have opened an account the slavery begins. They can have that most indispensable tool of modern living, one's flexible friend the credit card. It can now enable the child, who only a few weeks prior to induction into the army was at school, to buy whatever their heart desires.
The fact that this kid is earning at most $150 a month does not bother the bank. For here, as old Will Shakespeare said, "is the rub". The bank will let the poor unsuspecting soldier, who has more on his mind than checking his bank statement, run up a nice overdraft. They will then offer a lone to pay back the debt, the interest on which will be deducted from his or her miserly wages. And so the pattern of this poor soul's life is set, provided he/she survives army service they can look forward to a life of permanent debt, anchored into the clutches of the Israeli banking system, the black hole.
Now what of the down-and-out, how come that he/she has also been sucked into this black hole? Well, once these people had a home, a life and, of course, a bank account. Now pensions and income support are not paid out in cash at a post office here in Israel. Yes you guessed it; they are paid into a bank account. So these poor tramps (to use an old expression) also find themselves in the black hole. Yet their fate is even worse for with today's new regulations on pensions involving cuts left, right and centre, they are always backdated.
These people often build up huge debts that they are unaware of, and end up before a judge, and in prison, where they will stay till the debt is paid (debtors' prisons are alive and well in Israel). As they have no income this could be for years. One person we know of does not care. He says "well at least I'll have food and a roof over my head". And because of a new ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court, saying that prisoners should no longer be forced to sleep on the floor, he will get a bed. Dostyevsky said, "A country should be judged by its prisons". Israel has the worst in the so-called developed world, Turkey excepted.
Now we also have the new immigrants from the former USSR. Well, to be honest, the young embrace the trappings of the capitalist system, and get used to the tricks of underhanded dealing that is so rife in Russia to day "to get on", as they say. It is the old and invalid who, once again, because they are dependent on state handouts, have to have a bank account. From their meagre pension they must pay the bank charges just like any wage earner. So the small pension that these old people receive is further reduced by having to pay the bank for the privilege of withdrawing their money. This also applies of course to the wage earners who will have their monthly salaries paid directly into the bank.
So all you astronomers out there looking deep into space for black holes stop wasting your time. You have to look no further than this small country at the end of the Eastern Mediterranean. Just don't point your telescopes to close for they could be sucked in. The Israeli capitalist black hole sucks in anything that is worth money, and those telescopes are worth a lot.
The poor the underprivileged are now up in arms at the new cuts introduced by Israel's Thatcherite Finance Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Most of these people for years voted for his party the Likud, because the pro-capitalist Labour party had let them down. Bemused and in despair they are now embracing the Labour party. But Israel's Labour party is in itself in disarray, and will be of no help to these people. One can only hope that out of this mess a new genuine Israeli Socialist Workers' Party will emerge, and that the workers will defy physics and light will emerge from Israel's capitalist Black Hole.
Tel Aviv, July 15, 2003.