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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘israel

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Anthropology.net notes the embarrassing discovery that one of the vertebrae believed to have been part of the skeleton of early hominid Lucy actually belonged to a baboon.
  • Antipope Charlie Stross comes up with another worrisome explanation for the Great Filter.
  • BlogTO visits the Toronto offices of photo community site 500px.
  • Centauri Dreams features a guest essay from Ashley Baldwin about near- and medium-term search strategies and technologies for exoplanets.
  • Crooked Timber examines problems with non-copyright strategies.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper noting oddities in the protoplanetary disk of AA Tauri.
  • The Dragon’s Tales considers how how to make enduring software.
  • Mathew Ingram notes that Rolling Stone encountered ruin with the story of Jackie by wanting it to be true.
  • Joe. My. God. notes a New York City artist who took pictures of people in adjacent condos won the privacy suit put against him.
  • Language Hat looks at foreign influence in the French language.
  • Language Log links to a study of Ronald Reagan’s speeches that finds evidence of his progression to Alzheimer’s during the presidency.
  • Languages of the World considers the geopolitics of a military strike against the Iranian nuclear program.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money argues that Jonah Lehrer was not treated unfairly.
  • Marginal Revolution approves of Larry Kramer’s new GLBT-themed history of the United States.
  • Justin Petrone at North contrasts Easter as celebrated in Estonian and Russian churches.
  • Savage Minds features an essay in support of the BDS movement aimed against Israel.
  • Spacing engages David Miller on the need of urbanites to have access to nature.
  • Torontoist notes the popularity of a bill against GLBT conversion therapy at Queen’s Park.
  • Towleroad observes the beginning of an opera about Grindr.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy takes issue with Gerry Trudeau’s criticism of cartoons which satirize Islam.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at a Tatar woman who kept Islam alive in Soviet Moscow, argues that the sheer size of Donbas means that Russia cannot support it, looks at the centrality of the Second World War in modern Russia, and suggests the weak Ukrainian state but strong civil society is the inverse of the Russian situation.

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • Gerry Canavan produces his own compendium of interesting links.
  • Centauri Dreams speculates about the colours indicative of extraterrestrial life, and ecologies.
  • Crooked Timber takes a look at Northern Ireland and the legacies of past violence.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on a hominid fossil that may indicate a much greater diversity in our ancestral gene pool than we thought.
  • A Fistful of Euros’ Edward Hugh wonders when the European Central Bank will start to taper interest rates.
  • The Frailest Thing warns that the promises of tech giants to free people from the shackles of the past should be seen critically.
  • On St. Patrick’s Day, Joe. My. God. and Michael in Norfolk both note the extent to which attitudes towards GLBT people in Ireland have changed.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money wonders about the good sense of going off of anti-depressants.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen proclaims Scarborough to be one of the world’s best food cities.
  • Savage Minds makes the case for anthropologists to aid the post-cyclone people of Vanuatu.
  • Spacing interviews the NDP’s Thomas Mulcair on urban issues.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy’s David Bernstein is unhappy at the consequences for Israel of Netanyahu’s reelection, while Lawyers, Guns and Money looks at income disparities in Israel.
  • Window on Eurasia argues that high inequality and low social mobility in Russia will doom the country, notes the potential for water-driven conflict in Central Asia, and notes Russian interest in acquiring more slots of Muslim pilgrims after Crimea’s annexation.

[LINK] “What Greece Can Learn From Israel About Tax Cheats”

At Bloomberg View, Stephen Milm suggests that Israel’s strategy for fighting tax evasion by persuading people about the benefits of taxation, and making payment easier, is something Greece could learn from.

For example, authorities found it exceedingly difficult to determine how much tax people in certain occupations should pay, given that they rarely kept books or accounts. The solution was to create “standard assessment guides” known as tahshivim, which allowed all people in a given occupation to be taxed at the same rate.

These guides, notes Likhovski, were “perceived as a way to increase the objectivity of the tax assessment process and even to involve groups of taxpayers in it.”

This was part of a much broader strategy. Reformers sought to involve the taxpayers themselves in tax policy. For example, the Israel Revenue established advisory committees staffed by local business owners who had first-hand knowledge of area taxpayers. These committees were charged with hearing complaints about the assessments of taxes and could recommend a revision in a taxpayer’s favor.

At the same time, the Israel Revenue circumvented organizations that opposed its reforms. When it encountered resistance from trade unions or business groups, the government sent mass mailings explaining its position and the obligations of taxpayers.

To get buy-in from the public, reformers even redesigned tax offices. Previously, visits to the taxman meant sitting in large rooms with lots of other grumpy people. Unhappiness, the Israelis concluded, is contagious, and they moved to a system where taxpayers would wait alone for a government representative, with whom they would have a one-on-one meeting. They also self-consciously designed offices with an eye toward minimizing conflict. These featured pleasing pictures on the walls, comfortable chairs and a host of other modest modifications aimed at changing how taxpayers viewed tax collectors.blockquote>

Written by Randy McDonald

February 26, 2015 at 11:26 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • The Big Picture shares photos of the falling shoreline of the Dead Sea.
  • blogTO shows the heritage buildings that have survived condo development at Yonge and St. Joseph.
  • Crooked Timber wonders at the threat of anti-vaccination people.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes that red dwarfs might help produce abiotic atmospheric oxygen comparable to Earth on some worlds and suggests that certain low-mass stars which produce abundant extreme ultraviolet radiation may dessicate their potentially habitable worlds.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper examining the ancient likely shorelines of Mars.
  • Joe. My. God. notes a Christian activist’s takeover of the microphone at a Muslim event in Texas.
  • Language Hat links to a paper that finds weak links between language and genetic history.
  • Marginal Revolution notes a robot-run hotel in Japan and suggests Sweden is overrated.
  • Spacing calls for much-improved mass transit in Halifax.
  • Torontoist wonders about possible improvements in snow removal.
  • Towleroad notes a legal challenge mounted by an American dismissed for anti-gay attitudes.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that Herbert Hoover’s vice-president, Charles Curtis, was an American Indian.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at Russia’s turn to fascism and examines how Russian Internet trolls are recruited by the state.

[NEWS] Some Monday links

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • blogTO notes the development of a new shopping mall in Toronto’s Yorkville neighbourhood.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining the ability of the James Webb telescope to detect exoplanet transits.
  • Joe. My. God. notes a breakthrough for GLBT rights protesters in Seoul.
  • Language Log notes Google’s localization in Kazakh and observes Erdogan’s desire to revive Ottoman Turkish.
  • Languages of the World looks at the Gagauz.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer shares the story of a poor Texan fallen into the cracks of Obamacare because of his state’s chosen policies.
  • Savage Minds looks at early African-American anthropologist St. Clair Drake.
  • Spacing Toronto examines the appearance of the Ku Klux Klan in the GTA in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • Torontoist looks at the career of Joseph Shlisky, a Toronto-based Jewish cantor who tried to combine secular and religious careers.
  • Towleroad suggests that Elton John and David Furnish might be getting married next week.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that immigration has made Moscow the city with the largest Muslim population in Europe, and looks at security fears related to Central Asian migrant workers.
  • The Financial Times‘ The World wonders if Netanyahu has triggered the end of his political career.

[BRIEF NOTE] On the meaninglessness of a supposed Jewish right of return

Palestinian author Ghada Karmi‘s Al Jazeera opinion piece “The Jewish Right of Return” evokes for me Philip Roth’s novel Operation Shylock. This is not a good thing.

Anti-Arab slogans and graffiti are widespread in Israel, and Adalah, the legal centre for Arab minority rights in Israel, estimates that there are more than 50 Israeli discriminatory laws against Arabs. A new law making Israel the “nation-state of the Jewish people” that clearly discriminates against Arab citizens has already been passed by Israel’s cabinet. Dozens of Knesset members also support it.

This violent and irrational Israeli hatred and maltreatment of Arabs needs an explanation. In my view, it derives largely from the destruction of European Jewry during World War II. [. . .] To atone for this crime Europe encouraged the settlement of Holocaust survivors and other persecuted Jews in a faraway Middle Eastern country they did not know and whose people and culture were alien to them.

It was not the answer. In Palestine, the Jews were forced to acclimatise to an unfamiliar place and required to accept a new identity as “Israelis”. A Zionist history was created for them with the religious scriptures as a reference point. Their own past, despised by Zionism as assimilationist or passive in the face of Christian persecution, was to be discarded, and their mother tongues had to give way to a new language, Hebrew. Above all, they had to learn to be a majority when they had always been a minority. And all this in a short period of time as Israel was being rapidly established to defend against a hostile Arab environment that rejected it. That hostility was another challenge the Jewish immigrants had to face and that made all their other difficulties worse.

The solution?

The solution to this tortured situation lies in what may be called the Jewish right of return. Under this right, Europe would welcome back its previous Jewish citizens, at least those still alive, and their descendants, offer them compensation, fund their resettlement and provide jobs and housing. These costs could be defrayed against the EU’s current massive bilateral trade with Israel worth $36bn (with many trade agreements favouring the latter) and its generous grants to its scientists.

Germany is the model for this Jewish return. After reunification in 1990, it welcomed Jews to its towns and cities, with the result that an estimated 15,000 Israelis are now living in Berlin alone, which is experiencing a Jewish renaissance, and many more are applying for German citizenship. Other European states should follow suit, as should Arab countries with Jewish communities who had resettled in Israel.

Where can I begin?

Most of the countries of origin of Israel’s Jewish population–in central and eastern Europe, in the Middle East and North Africa, and beyond–are substantially less economically developed than Israel. Even in fast-developing central Europe, living standards still lag behind Israel’s, to say nothing of poorer countries like Romania, or Ukraine, or Yemen. There really is no economic incentive for Jewish immigration specifically targeted to ancestral countries of origin. Germany has attracted many tens of thousands of Jewish immigrants since reunification, but most of these Jews are migrants from the former Soviet Union and Germany is still much richer than even Poland or Hungary.

Are there non-economic incentives? I am very skeptical of this. In the case of central and southeastern European countries which belong to the European Union, getting an EU passport might well be an incentive for many Israelis. That is it. The old Jewish-Christian communities of central Europe have been almost entirely destroyed, and negative associations understandable remain strong. There is very little alive for potential Jewish immigrants to cling to.

Perhaps most importantly, the majority of Jews in Israel were born in Israel. Ancestral countries of origin are increasingly irrelevant in a mixed population, perhaps almost as irrelevant as they are in another country of recent mass immigration like Canada. Why should they leave their homeland for lands that offer very little that is attractive to them, and does so only at significant cost? A Jewish exodus from Israel may actually aggravate existential issues and Israel-Palestinian conflict: Would a Jewish population weakened by mass emigration and reduced to a hard core of isolated people be more tractable to the Palestinians, or less?

I may get what Karmi is saying. It would have been very nice of these genocides and forced migrations had not happened. They did though, changing things irrevocably and beyond hope of reconstitution. All we can do is live realistically within the world that the past has created.

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