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Sderot to Receive Benefits – Maybe…

February 27, 2008

You’ve gotta love messed up governments. MK Silvan “Steve” Shalom proposed a new bill that would grant small businesses in Sderot and other towns close to Gaza that have been hit by Qassams several benefits. These include various tax benefits, monetary compensation, and permission to receive extra credit (not the school kind) for businesses who have lost much of their income due to the present situation.

Sounds good, right? Not so much, apparently. The official government position was against it – but the Knesset passed the bill in the first round (of three to get a bill approved in Israel). Even some of the MKs who are in the coalition voted for the bill. Many abstained. 34 voted for the legislation, and 22 voted against. Which means that 64 (!!!) MKs either abstained or did not show up to vote on the bill. In case you don’t know, there are 120 Mks.

I guess they were too busy accompanying former MK Omri Sharon to jail, where he will be serving a 7-month sentence for corruption and fraud connected to his father’s election bid (former PM Ariel Sharon, whose 80th birthday was yesterday).

I fail to understand why anyone would vote against a bill whose sole purpose to assist those who have been hurt most. I’d think we want to promote small businesses, especially those run by people who remain on the front lines instead of running away.

Recent reports have estimated that, as of Feb 20, 2008, over 400 qassam rockets have been launched at Israel since the beginning of 2008. By comparison, 2007 saw a total of 1,150 rockets. 2006 saw even more – 1,488.

I’m not sure that the government is “doing nothing” as everyone thinks about the situation in Sderot and neighboring towns, but I DO know that things are only getting worse. Insted of meeting them half way and, in the very least, giving them financial assistance, they take the stance of “giving them money won’t solve the situation, so why even bother?”

It makes a difference. It’s enough to watch the footage of 8 year old Maria stroking her 10-year-old brother Yossi, who was just hit in the shoulder by a Qassam, trying to convince her father to move. Her father tries to convince her they should stay – a sentiment many in Sderot share, telling her she’ll have to go to a new school, find new extra curricular acitivities, but she doesn’t care. “So we’ll go to a new school. So we’ll make new friends.” She wants to go to Ashkelon.

Thing is, just like the disengagement brought Palestinian gunfire (rocketfire) closer to Israel and Sderot, if everyone leaves Sderot, not only do they accomplish driving us out of our own country, but they are even closer to Ashkelon and other bigger towns, which they already have the capability of reaching.

I am not taking sides on the political spectrum – I have my opinions and I will keep them to myself. I don’t think that my being on either side of the political spectrum makes any difference.

One of the first rules of being a leader – whether it’s leading a country or a company or a department – is to not only make commentary on bad situations, but offer a solution. Unfortunately, I can’t think of one right now. Clearly whatever happens, people will lose out, the question is, why does it feel like nothing is being done at all?

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