As Israel enters its fifth week of lockdowns, many self-employed and micro-businesses are on the verge of financial collapse and still facing an "unlimited prohibition" to work.
By now, they are angry and for excellent reasons. A Facebook movement started by Abir Kara "I Shulman" ("I am an independent") is gaining enormous attraction and strong support among the Israeli population.
"I Shulman" is a group of very responsible citizens; they aren't requesting tax-payers money; they aren't lobbying to be included in a particular stimulus or aid package. They are proud Israeli citizens; they don't want charity; they only want to work and be financially independent!
Contrary to big corporations, like El-Al, that is using the COVID-19 to increase their already over-inflated subsidies package, "I Shulman" is demanding to cancel payments of property taxes on their business space during the lockdown. It is a very reasonable demand since the government is forcing them to close their properties. Why would they pay for public services such as garbage removal when they are obviously not using them?
Contrary to the Hutzpah of our public servants requesting a special bonus for remote work, "I Shulman" is demanding to have access to the national insurance funds they individually contributed to when they were allowed to work. It is a particularly reasonable demand since self-employed in Israel pay every month towards national insurance, but they aren't entitled to unemployment benefits. Another example of bureaucratic genius!
Self-employed and small businesses aren't trying to catch a wave on the taxpayer's back. This responsible attitude is a sharp contrast to the behavior of the public sector and the big companies supported by the taxpayers.
"I Shulman" are the backbone of the Israeli economy; without them, no economic recovery will be possible. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, they are almost 600,000 businesses in Israel; 84 % of them are either self-employed (51%) or micro-businesses with less than four employees(33%).
How would Israel look like if many of them do not survive the weeks or months of lockdowns our bureaucrats want to impose? It is time for all of us to realize that while the government is getting fatter and fatter, the men and women carrying it are getting leaner and leaner.