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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Sunday, October 23, 2005
 
A Truly Modest Proposal
A religious organization around here is engaged in an act of charity so wrongheaded that I feel the need to comment. Last week at synagogue we were alerted to an “airlift” that will bring winter clothes to the displaced former Gaza settlers and the general poor in Israel. The idea is that the former settlers have moved to places with different climates and now need winter coats, etc. Oh, also there are poor people who can’t afford winter coats. Therefore Jews in the States should pack up their winter coats and send them to Israel via airplane. Let’s deconstruct this idiocy, shall we?

First, I have no doubt that the Israeli government botched the job of resettling the Gaza residents. However, those who moved before the deadline were given a large sum of money (something like $300,000) to buy homes elsewhere. I believe that able-bodied men with three hundred grand and some skills should be able to reconstruct a life, a life that allows them to buy winter coats for their families. Let’s set the general poor aside for now since I believe they are an aside to this political act of charity. Let’s discuss instead the concept of sending American coats to Israel via airplane. Currently, I hear ads on the radio suggesting that I save gas because, after Katrina and the other hurricane, the U.S. is not functioning at full capacity in oil refining. Furthermore, jet fuel is just plain expensive. The bottom line is that shipping our winter coats to Israel is a shocking waste of resources and also directly benefits our enemy, Saudi Arabia. The final piece of this foolish act is that it undermines the Israeli economy. There must be a moshav somewhere in the Promised Land that manufactures winter clothes. There must also be a family in a settler’s new town who sells coats. Sending our coats undermines both of these institutions. So, here is what I propose. We collect money and use it to buy coats from an Israeli manufacturer to distribute to Israel’s poor. Also, we leave the former settlers alone to fend for themselves. Anyone with me? No? Around here we always prefer cheap grace.
Comments:
Lady, you seem so clearheaded- was it a moment of utter insanity that caused you to get married to That Guy? (kidding. No, really)

I'm with you on this one. Wire transfer some cash.

We have a parish priest that has made it clear to us that the church "needs" to raise a million bucks for some BS he's decided is neccesary. That's $1k from each parishioner. He suggested we take out second mortgages. From the pulpit.

So called Spiritual leaders, and the folks who work at their supposed behest, sometimes have the biggest disconnect from reality of anyone.

Well put. Post more. Please.
 
Og: Gee, thanks (except for the crack about the inimitable Bean).
 
Oops, when the appeal came loud and clear to Toronto residents for warm clothing, I was one of those who went through our warm clothing -- especially the requested children's clothing and coats -- and packed up about 4 large bags to send to the resettled Gush Katif folks. Your rational POV never crossed my mind at the time...but b-and-c, you are more than correct.
 
I think this sort of thing is often used as a way to pawn off old crap as full-value tax deductions. I was discussing this with a friend who runs a charity-based thrift store, and she says she is often asked to give receipts for "donations" at the full retail value of clothing that is actually worn and tired. So perhaps that is the motivation.
 
Pearl: Sorry to burst your bubble and My God, they are also sending stuff from Canada!
Og: I do not think there is any mechanism for a tax deduction, it is simply a way for people to feel good about themselves by doing nothing.
 
A. You have winter coats in LA?

B. If so, what are you supposed to do when the winter comes around next year?
 
PT: A. Yeah, that was another thing that kinda bugged me, though not enough to put in a rant. We do, but they are in NO WAY warm enough for places where it really gets cold. I should know, I once wore my winter coat to Baltimore. Yikes! I didn't know what cold was.
B. I was assuming it was ones we didn't need anymore. Around here, once you have passed the coat to three kids, you're basically tapped out. Anyone with six kids has to go to a different shul.
 
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