Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Day at the Shopping Mall

I'm not going to go into all of the details of what I experienced at the Big Shopping Center in Carmi'el.

Just take a friendly word of advice: *Never* go to a shopping mall when you're in a heightened state of awareness.

Trust me. Don't do it. I love you. That is why I'm saying this to you.

OK. OK. If you insist. Just one scene from a surrealistic day:

I went into an Aroma coffee shop (all of the stores in the mall are either large national or international chain stores). Just like every other store I'd been in, the behavior of the staff was regimented, stilted, formulaic and painstakingly crafted to create the "ambiance" that the place wants to project - and get the clientelle to fall in line with and act accordingly.

When the girl gave me my coffee at the coffee bar, I asked her: "Tell me, just between us girls, at the end of the day are you able to shed the persona and just be?"

In my naivete, I fully expected that she'd wink at me with a 'we both know this is hype' wink. But nooooo.

Instead she looked at me robotically and said: "Is there something wrong, Madame?" Though what she said was phrased as a question, it meant: "I know I've done everything according to the book, as I was trained. There can't possibly be anything wrong. You are not acting in accordance with the script. You're some kind of troublemaker. I hope we're not going to have to call security." (In addition to the staff wearing their cutesy costumes, there are security people crawling all over the place in these places.)

I looked at her and said: "Oh, no, no. Everything is just fine. Just fine. I'm OK. You're OK. This whole scene is perfectly OK."

I walked back to my table, gingerly, and as I drank the conveyer belt, every cup is absolutely perfect coffee; I watched the other customers all behaving as one should when one goes to a coffee shop - all exactly according to regulation.

I sat there and my brain screamed out: SCOTTY!!!

Luckily, a friend came along and gave me a lift to Tzfat.

Now, things weren't always this way in Israel. When I first arrived here my friends and I used to frequent a coffee shop. The third or fourth time we went there the proprietor was playing chess with a friend. We stood there and waited for him to serve us. After a few minutes he looked up and said: "Don't be strangers. You know where the expresso machine is. You've seen how it's done. Make yourselves coffee." At first we were stunned, but then we decided we liked it. We had great fun making the espresso.

Years after that, I went into a place for a quick schwarma here in Tzfat. There were two women behind the counter. I told one what I wanted with the schwarma and she prepared it for me. I said "thank you" and as I held a 20 NIS bill out to her she said: "I don't take money. I'm just a friend. She's the owner. Pay her."

Now, THAT is the way to conduct business.

There are still a few businesses like that in Israel, but they are getting rarer and rarer. Luckily, there are still many in Tzfat.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

Monday, December 24, 2007

Lights! Inaction! Camera!

While the city found the money to finance 24 state-of-the-art cameras and the computers needed to analyze the data, which is being collected and collated 24/7; the city gummint is turning off the lights at night claiming that the draconian measure of having us stay at home at night or risk falling in the treacherous streets of Tzfat in the darkness if we do have to go out, is for the sake of fiscal recovery.

Doesn't not turning the street lights off at night tacitly aid and abet thieves work under cloak of darkness?

But then, the theft justifies the cameras and computers that are used for surveillance of everyone in Tzfat.

And why is it that when I went out at 10:30 this morning, I saw that all of the street lights along the No. 6 bus line were on?

Doesn't it cost the same money to light the city in broad daylight as it does in the black of night?

Another passenger told me the lights were on yesterday during the day too.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan

Sunday, December 23, 2007


Our town has recently been equipped with not less than 24 state-of-the-art surveillance cameras, each of which can photograph minute detail within a very large range.

The images are received and anyalyzed by computers that are manned, sort of, 24/7.

It's interesting how there's always a wave of violent crime and vandalism just before these cameras are installed...

Oh, of course. The cameras are in response to the spontaneous spate of crime. Yah. That's it.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

Thursday, December 13, 2007

עובדים סוציאליים: פעולות ומטרות

דורין אלן בל-דותן, צפת

Saturday, December 08, 2007

A Critique of "Building the Future Society" by Rabbi Yehuda Leib HaLevi Ashlag

The essay, translated into English, is here:

I'm afraid I was influenced by an article I had read *about* Rabbi Ashlag entitled
"דרך הקבלה אל הקומוניזם"
("Arriving at Communism by Way of the Kabbalah"), which can be found on this URL:

It was impetuous of me to arrive at conclusions about Ashlag's political views based on what someone had written about him. It was only awhile later that I was led to the article "Building the Future Society" , which Ashlag had himself written. One can see that the translation into English is not very good, but Ashlag's basic ideas are expressed in the translation.

Ashlag's ideas are anything but Anarcho-Communistic as I had understood from the article
"Arriving at Communism by Way of the Kabbalah"
(in Hebrew). Either Ashlag never read the works of the Anarchists, or he did study them, but was not impressed by their writings. I suspect the former case because he does not cite the writings of the Anarchists, even to critique them.

At any rate, he put forth a programme of Altruistic Communism, as he claims. His Communism, for all its altruism, is Communism in the form in which Anarchism repudiates it – that is, statist.

His program of Communism is not only statist, it is further vitiated by the fact that some of the laws that he would effect are, to be blunt, off-the-wall. The requirement that one either be religious or, barring that, agree to having one's children receive religious education from the state can be chalked up to little more than his generally being freaked out on Kabbalah. This applies equally to his suggestions that only a chosen few be allowed to engage in spiritual matters, that those be the "leaders" of society and that a court determine if someone's request to serve society by devoting himself or herself wholly to spiritual matters, should be granted. His statement: "Hence, the nobler nation, namely the nation of Israel, must take upon itself to set an example to the world. It is so because we are better qualified than all other nations, not because we are more idealists than them, but because we have suffered more than all other nations. For that reason we are more prepared than they to seek advice to end tyranny from the land." Witnessing the administration of the Jewish state, we see that protracted suffering does not make for wise structuring of society or create an aversion to tyranny. It would be an horrendous universe that we live in were it so that only after horrific suffering could one become sensitive to suffering. We learn from Kropotkin, from Bakunin and from Tolstoy that one can hail from great privilege and be exquisitely sensitive to suffering. Neither can we use suffering as an excuse for the Jews, in toto, to be considered a somehow "nobler" vanguard. There have been many individual Jews who were made of rarified moral stuff. Among the Anarchists there are people like Goldman, Berkman, Landauer and Muhsam, to be sure. Certainly these suffered, but it was not their suffering that set them on the road to Anarchism. It was the result of their having been Anarchists, not the cause of their having been Anarchists. They became Anarchists because, though hailing from comfortable, middle-class backgrounds they were extremely sensitive individuals. There are also Jews like those who are running the Jewish State who are abominably immoral. These too cannot be discounted as being part and parcel of the Jewish People. We Jews have produced the very great, the disgustingly despicable and, overwhelmingly, the very average, unremarkable and undistinguished.

It is no wonder that Ashlag's sons and students taught and teach Kabbalah and downplay his socio-political-economic teaching. It is not surprising, having considered his programme, that rather than devoting themselves to the real task of building an altruistic society they busy themselves with the esoteric and arcane. Whatever Ashlag's contributions may have been to the understanding of the Kabbalah, and I do not doubt that they were noteworthy; however mighty were his efforts to bridge Heaven and earth, a momentous undertaking; he did not succeed in proposing even the merest sketch of a workable society.

Though there were some interesting ideas in the piece, as an Anarcho-Communist I found "Building the Future Society" to be an almost thoroughgoing disappointment.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

Friday, December 07, 2007


There is a third local paper that is, now irregularly, published in Tzfat. It is called "Chasifa L'Tzafon", a cheeky play on words that literally means "Northern Exposure" and also intimates that they have a conscience. As the name of the paper suggests, they've got some spunk in them. "Chasifa L'Tzafon" is not another establishment-serving rag sheets, as are "Chadash B'Galil" (which used to be more radical, until honest and intrepid reporter Yoram Omer stopped working for them) and "Kol HaIr", which is owned by the HaMeiri dynasty – enough said about their purpose.

"Chasifa L'Tzafon" has been stepped on, not surprisingly, and is no longer issued weekly. They do, however, retain a web site, a link to which is provided below. The site is updated when they can.

I found the following report about the social workers convention on their site. You'll note at once that the tenor of their report is very different than that of the politically and socially obsequious "Chadashot B'Galil" and the HaMeiri sounding board "Kol HaIr", a passage from which I translated in " Alternative Suggestion for Battling Poverty with a Proven Track Record of Success".

The following is my translation of the report of the social workers' convention that appears on the web site of "Chasifa L'Tzafon":

"Social Workers Convened in Tzfat: "The Poverty Will Lead to Civil Insurrection"

A call to lead the struggle for the poor for fear of civil insurrection emerged from the convention of the welfare workers that took place in the Tzfat Academic College. An exposition of facts pointing to a worrying increase in distress among the weak strata (of society) comprised the central issue of the deliberation. Our correspondent, Shlomo Hadad, related that many social workers called for taking action for fear of a civil revolt that is liable to break out, which will be similar to that of the "Black Panthers" (a radical group inspired by the American Black Panthers hailing from the Oriental and North African Jewish communities who demanded socio-political-economic equality between their ethnic groups and those of the Jews hailing from Western countries, my parentheses) of the 1970s. "It behooves us to march at the head of the struggle despite the fact that we are fettered with regard to budgeting" declared those who those who arrived for the convention."

Source and original text

This article describes the motivations of the social workers far more courageously and accurately than did the articles that appeared in "Chadash B'Galil" and "Kol HaIr", which attempted to present the social workers' concern as being for the poor.

Here we see that their concern is, as I stated, not to eradicate the misery of the poor, but only to keep their distress from reaching the meltdown that desperation and having nothing more to lose brings.

There has been a spate of attacks on social workers of late. It is for that reason that they realize that the poor are at the breaking point. As I also stated, they are the government's first line of defense against the disadvantaged.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

An Argument for Anarcho-Communism

A friend of mine was shot a few months ago.

It was the opening day of a bazaar that he had opened. He owns a clothing store, but felt that the small town of Tzfat needed a bazaar, which is true. He borrowed 100,000 NIS to open the bazaar.

That day a young woman who had worked for him in his store came running to him. She told him that an ex-boyfriend was pursuing her and that he was nuts with jealousy. She was obviously scared.

My friend told the man that if he didn't leave the young woman alone he'd call the police.

As he turned the man shot him in the back - five times.

My friend lived. He's a big, healthy and burly man of about 40.

I walked past his store yesterday evening and saw that it was open. My first thought was that he was recovered to the point of being back in the store and I was delighted. I went in and found his sister in the store.

I inquired as to how my friend is doing. His sister told me that he is still in a wheelchair and undergoing intensive physical therapy after numerous operations. I asked what the prognosis is. She told me that the doctors won't commit to a prognosis.

She told me that my friend could have easily overcome the small, slight man who shot him, but he didn't try to use force. Instead he told the man he'd call the police, as a "good citizen" is supposed to do.

She told me that the man who shot him said in his defense in court that he was "insulted".

I told her that I thought it might be my friend when I saw the store open.

She explained that she is opening the store because the bank is making trouble for her brother. He owes them 100,000 NIS and they couldn't care less if he's in a wheelchair. They want their money.

At this point I was so enraged that my head began to swim.

I can see this whole story going down entirely differently were there not a state, so that my friend could have just jumped the guy before he got a chance to pull the gun and wouldn't have needed to warn him that he'd call the police.

My friend is in a wheelchair because he acted in accordance with the law.

He is now facing the prospect of the bank using the same state that he relied on to take care of a situation he could have handled now at the behest of the bank.

There is no reason why a man should go into debt in order to provide a public service, which is what the bazaar was intended to be. He was making enough money from his store, but he wanted to do better for this sleepy, out of the way town.

There is no reason why he should be being treated as a criminal by the state as he is trying to recover from being shot in the back five times.

I do not see how this scene would be any different under AnCap. There would still be a plutocracy. There would still be loans. There would still be police forces to back up repayment of the loans. There would be no more compassion under Anarcho-Capitalism.

The argument that Anarcho-Communists are anti-Capitalism and not anti-State is simply propaganda. It is not true. We understand that the state works at the behest of the rich and that there will always be some brute force that will be required to do that job so long as there is capital and the accumulation thereof.

Under Anarcho-Communism someone who thought the community would be benefited by a bazaar would come to a general meeting with the idea. Either he would find that the community did not agree, or they'd give him a big thanks and the go-ahead.

The community would provide the necessary materials to open the bazaar. No loans. No banks.

If some maniac were to come along, no one would have to waste time threatening him with the police. They'd just jump his ass and be done with it.

Refute my argument if you can.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel

Saturday, December 01, 2007

"THE CORRUPT BUSINESS OF CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES", by United States Senator running for re-election, Nancy Schaefer of Georgia

This article absolutely stunned me when I first read it posted on the Google group talk.politics.libertarian when I went there to post "Further to the Unholy Alliance Between Social Workers and State".

I was not stunned by the content, of which I am fully aware. It's the same horror story everywhere. I was stunned by the fact that the author of the article is a US Senator.


Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
Further to the Unholy Alliance Between Social Workers and State

An article in the 30/11/07 edition of the local Tzfat, Israel newspaper קול
העיר ("Kol HaIr", meaning "Voice of the City") that opened full of hope and humanity ends on an ominous note.

There is a branch of Bar Ilan University here in Tzfat. It is not really on the academic level of the University, more like a small college, but they do offer BA's (no no BSc's or higher degrees are granted, neither is research conducted there).

Be that as it may, the opportunity for single parents, at least 90% of whom are women, to earn a BA is a very bright ray of hope for a population that is characterized by 25% being under the poverty line. No figures are given for the remaining 75%. Knowing the population as I do, I should say that about 50% are at the poverty level. The remainder are able to get help from the parents' families or enjoy other sources of income.

A new program has been instituted by one of the deacons at the college. It is an academic program geared for single parents. They are provided with a substantial scholarship as well as a living allowance. There are support services which are not the run-of-the-mill psycho-social services that make people feel one down in an uneven power relationship at best and "sick" at worst, but rather support services that encourage a positive self and family image and empower the parents. Tutoring is likewise made available to those who need it.

How beautiful! What promise!

Enter the gummint.

Before I go on, I should explain that single parents in Israel are entitled to a good deal of aid. They are entitled to basic equipment for the baby: Crib, carriage, disposable diapers, formula when they stop nursing, a 1/3 discount on public transportation and a rent subsidy.

In order to obtain those services they must turn to the Welfare authority, i.e., the social workers. Thus, they must submit to the assessment of the social workers as to whether or not they are "fit" parents. They must show up to the social workers' offices regularly, where they are quite obviously scrutinized.

The social workers are not satisfied with reports that they receive from our equivalent of La Leche. Oh, no. It is the social workers who determine if a parent is "fit" and a child "at risk". Of course, the social workers are all assumed to be ideal parents, who are in a position to determine the parenting skills of others. Statistically, it simply cannot be that all social workers are good parents, but never once have I heard of a social worker being investigated by child welfare officers.

Even the best parent is made to feel, um, uncomfortable by that ongoing scrutiny, which, they know full well, is not always well-intended or completely objective.

With all the aid they receive, as I have said and feel should reiterate, 25% of single parents are below the poverty line. Some 50% more are at the poverty line, according to my personal observations. They rest have parents who are in a position to help or have other sources of income.

It is every single parent's dream to get out from under the thumb of the welfare services.

A program like the one being offered by the Tzfat Regional College, an accredited institution of higher learning, is a tremendous boon and holds out great promise of economic independence as well as emancipation from the social workers and the welfare system.

It transpires that the government has passed a law which stipulates that any single parent enrolling in the program loses all his or her benefits.

Even given the fact that they receive a modest living allowance and a substantial scholarship, being a student in a college or university in Israel is far more expensive than in many countries. Students here are notoriously poor - I mean poor.

The parents who are dependent upon the aid simply cannot afford to forfeit it.

This keeps them in the thrall of the social workers and in the welfare loop.

There are 150,000 single parent households in Israel today. The percentages are growing every year as women decide that they do not need to accept the bonds and strictures of Jewish marriage (which only allows the men the right to grant divorce and makes a deserted wife unable to marry again) or to remain in miserable marriages "for the kids".

Clearly, there is a nefarious programme being implemented - a meticulously planned programme of povertization and perpetuation of dependence - and all that the misery of poverty leads to (there is no need to elaborate, the insightful will understand).

I have said before and I will say again unless I am shut up and away by the authorities, which is a very real possibility when one speaks the truth in the State of Israel, the social workers are the government's front line in its war on wealth, health and happiness.

Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel