couponing in the holy land

Frugal food shopping for the Anglo Israeli

Archive for the tag “knesset”

Good news: less pesticides on fruits and vegetables

One day before the Knesset disbanded, they approved a dramatic revision in the legislation defining the maximum limits of pesticide residues on foods.  Among the newly forbidden pesticides are carbamates and organophosphates which affect neurologic function.  The use of other pesticides such as DDT will be severely limited.

In a small number of cases, an alternative pesticide will be allowed providing that it can be shown to be safe to the environment, wildlife, and of course humans.  The new legislation will come into effect in 30 days.

There was a minor controversy as to who should sign the new legislation- the outgoing Health Minister Yael German (Yesh Atid) or Binyamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister and effectively the Minister of every office until there is a new government.  In the end, Netanyahu’s signature appears on the document.

The legislation has not been updated since 2008, and there have been many changes worldwide limiting the use of certain pesticides since that time period.

Of course, now it will be up to Misrad HaBriut and Misrad HaChaklaut to make sure that farmers are using the proper amounts of pesticides and refraining from using illegal ones.  Since the government disbanded without approving a budget, it is difficult to imagine how they will be able to do this.  The last report regarding pesticide residues was put out by Misrad HaBriut in 2012.  They reported that 56.7% of the foods sampled had the presence of pesticide residue.  In 11.24% of the samples, there was a pesticide residue that was over the maximum permitted limit by law.  There were 133 different compound detected.

Despite that, Misrad HaBriut performed a risk assessment without taking into consideration the peeling of fruits and vegetables and decided that the amounts present pose a minimal risk to human health, if at all.  Some of the compounds found have already been banned from use in 2013.

It is important to note that these products were tested for survey purposes only- the products were not removed from the shelves as a result of the survey because the time it takes to receive test results is longer than products’ shelf lives.

For more information in English about pesticide use in Israel, go to Misrad HaChaklaut’s Pesticides Data Bank.

Of course, the best way to avoid pesticide residue in fruits and vegetables is to eat organic produce. Make sure that the product being advertised as organic truly is.  Read about the labeling requirements and other information in English on the Misrad HaChaklaut web site.

Source: Ynet, Misrad HaBriut, Misrad HaChaklaut

 

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George Orwell is alive and living in Eretz Yisrael

Yesterday was a very sad day for Israeli consumers.  Eitan Cabel’s law forbidding Yisrael HaYom to distribute its newspaper for free passed the first reading in the Knesset (it needs three readings to become a law).  Yes, you heard correctly.  A law is soon to be passed that forbids someone to give out a newspaper- it forces them to charge money for the paper!  Why in the world would Eitan Cabel do this?  Because a free paper is unfair competition to the other papers who charge money, of course!

A little background for those of you who don’t read the mainstream Israeli papers. Yisrael HaYom is considered to be a center to right wing paper. Yediot Achronot, the second most widely read paper, is considered to be left wing, Haaretz extremely left wing, Mekor Rishon is for intellectual dati leumi Jews, and Maariv is read by almost nobody.  Yisrael HaYom is financed by Sheldon Adelson, a right-wing American Jew who happens to be the 10th richest person in the world.  He is a strong supporter of Bibi Netanyahu and created Yisrael HaYom as a backlash against the left wing papers (mainly Yediot Achronot) who strongly dislike Bibi, to say it politely.  Remember some of these campaigns?

  

To get back to the point, the free Yisrael HaYom angers the other newspapers because (a)  they have to earn money because they don’t have a financial backer, (b) they hate any thing or any one that disagrees with their political viewpoint, and (c) Yisrael HaYom is the most widely read paper in Israel.  So what do you do if you can’t beat the competition?  In Israel, you don’t join them, you make them illegal!

Sounds Orwellian, does it not?  What happens if this becomes a precedent in other industries- will they ban 1+1 sales? “Free gift with a purchase”? Force all businesses to charge the same price so everyone earns the same amount of money?  Not that, of course- that is called price fixing and it is illegal.  Speaking of illegalities, there is a primary law in Israel (the equivalent of an Act in the US or a Regulation in the EU) which ensures the right of each and every citizen to open and run any business: “כל אזרח או תושב של המדינה זכאי לעסוק בכל עיסוק, מקצוע או משלח יד”.  So if this is true, then it would be reasonable to assume that Eitan Cabel’s law would be thrown out of the knesset.  In fact, a judicial decision was published stating that this law is “illegal” (the Israeli version of “unconstitutional”).  Despite that, it was still brought to the knesset!

For all of you who live in small communities who publish their own paper, never fear- the law only applies to “full-size” newspapers.  You can still give away your local paper, as long as it isn’t full-size, whatever that means.

I am truly shocked and amazed at the fact despite its illegality, our government representatives are still more concerned with political bickering than doing something about the “yoker mechiah”- the high prices of just about everything in Israel.  We can’t even get a newspaper for free!  Not only that, but I am disgusted with the thought that there will be only one political voice in Israel.  Every time I see a pro-Palestinian group quote an article in Haaretz, I cringe.  We all see the bias shown towards Israel in the foreign press- why should we allow it to happen here?

You may be thinking that this is an important issue, but what does this have to do with Couponing in the Holy Land?  Well, as you might have read in other posts, Yisrael HaYom is a good source for coupons, deals, and sales advertisements.  They also have a great section on consumerism.  In addition, I see no reason to pay for a newspaper when I can get one for free- that is being smart financially.

If you also disagree with Eitan Cabel’s proposed law to shut down Yisrael HaYom, there are several things you can do to make your voice heard.

#1: Sign the Atzuma petition.

#2: Go to Eitan Cabel’s Facebook page.  Hear his vitriol against Yisrael HaYom.  Comment on his page.  So far the great majority of comments are against him.

#3: Write to the supporters and opponents of Eitan Cabel’s law to express your opinion.  Most of the opponents, as you could imagine, are Likud members.  Most of the supporters are Yesh Atid members and further left.  A big surprise for me was seeing Dov Lipkin’s name as one of the supporters- as a former American I would expect him to be a strong supporter of free enterprise than he apparently is.

The full list is below, but some of the prominent supporters of the law also include Yair Shamir (Minister of Agriculture), Yael German (Minster of Health), Avigdor Lieberman (Minister of Foreign Affairs), Tzipi Livni (Minister of Justice), Shaul Mofaz, Uzi Landau, Yitzchak Aharonivich (Minister of Public Security), Sofa Landver (Minister of Immigration), Ahmed Tibi, Meir Shitrit, Amir Peretz, and as previously mentioned Dov Lipkin.

Some of the prominent detractors include: Yuval Shteinitz (Minister of Strategic and Intelligence Affairs), Yisrael Katz (Minister of Transportation), Moshe Feiglin, Uri Orbach (Minister for Senior Citizens), Yuli Edelstein (Speaker of the Knesset), Moshe Yaalon (Minister of Defense), Limor Livnat (Minister of Culture and Sport), Meir Porush, and Benyamin Netanyahu.

Yair Lapid, Naftali Bennett, and Shai Piron are not listed.

התומכים בחוק: חברי הכנסת אביגדור ליברמן, אילן גילאון, אראל מרגלית, דוד רותם, יאיר שמיר, יצחק אהרונוביץ’, מיכל בירן, סופה לנדבר, עומר בר-לב, ציפי לבני, רות קלדרון איברהים צרצור, איציק שמולי, בועז טופורובסקי, חמד עמאר, יואל רזבוזוב, יצחק הרצוג, מסעוד גנאים, סתיו שפיר, עפו אגבאריה, קארין אלהרר, שאול מופז, אורלי לוי אבקסיס, איתן כבל, דב ליפמן, חנא סוייד, יעל גרמן, לאון ליטינצקי, מרב מיכאלי, עוזי לנדאו, עפר שלח, רוברט אילטוב, שמעון סולומון, אחמד טיבי, אלכס מילר, דוד צור, טלב אבו עראר, יפעת קריב, מאיר שטרית, נחמן שי, עמיר פרץ, פאינה קירשנבאום ורונן הופמן.

המתנגדים לחוק: חברי הכנסת אופיר אקוניס, גילה גמליאל, יובל שטייניץ, ישראל כץ, משה פייגלין, פנינה תמנו-שטה, אורי אורבך, זאב אלקין, יולי אדלשטיין, לימור לבנת, משה יעלון, ציפי חוטובלי, אורית סטרוק, זבולון כלפה, יוני שטבון, מאיר פרוש, משה מזרחי, שולי מועלם-רפאלי, בנימין נתניהו, זהבה גלאון, ישראל חסון, מרדכי יוגב וניסן סלומינסקי.

נמנעו: חברי הכנסת אברהם מיכאלי, חיליק בר, אורי מקלב, יעקב אשר, באסל גטאס, נסים זאב, יואב בן צור ועמרם מצנע.

As you can see, it is pretty well divided politically.

Hopefully the Knesset will see come to their senses and vote down this incredulous piece of legislation, but in case it doesn’t, I pulled out my copy of 1984 to read this Shabbat so I will be ready for what the future holds in store for us.

“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”
George Orwell, 1984

Sources: Mako and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

 

 

Encouraging competition to lower prices- Part 2

In my previous post, A real look at the price of food in Israel, I discussed the relatively high prices for food and other commodities in Israel as compared to OECD countries.  The information presented in the report was used as the foundation for creating a new law entitled Promoting Competition in the Food Industry-2013 which is still a proposal.  The instigation for this new legislation was the  Kedmi Report on the Food Industry of 2012 which outlined several methods to lower prices, including lowering import taxes, preventing suppliers from purchasing retail space and stronger enforcement of consumer protection laws.  Since that report a new government was elected and therefore some of the recommendations did not make it to the proposed law, such as lowering import taxes and strengthening the Consumer Protection Agency.  The three main areas the new law deals with are: (1) Regularizing the activities between supplier and retailer, (2) Strengthening competition in certain geographic areas and (3) Strengthening price transparency.

According to the vaadah there are four avenues that can be taken to lower food prices:

  1. Limiting market volume from the manufacturing end (a monopoly in one sub-industry can not be in other sub-industries as well) in addition to the retail end (limiting the market on a national level and a regional level).
  2. Active encouragement of the growth of small and medium-sized businesses.
  3. Encouraging the activity of private brands in the market volume through subsidies, research comparing the quality of different brands and advertising the results of the research.
  4. Creation of a body that will be responsible for collecting information, checking that the promotion of new legislation is progressing, following the lowering of prices and publishing an annual report of its findings.

When this law starts moving forward I will let you know.  So far it passed the first reading and the last meeting of vaadat ksafim was the end of December.

What do you think?  How do we encourage competition and lower prices?

What is open on Election Day

In accordance with Section 10 of the Basic Law: The Knesset and Section 71A of the Knesset Elections Law (Consolidated Version) of 1969, the Central Elections Committee hereby designates that the following public servies will operate as usual on Elections Day:

  1. Employees of the Central Elections Committee – anyone who works for the committee or provides a service to the committee, and for Elections Day only, any employee of the political parties running for office or anyone providing for them a service.
  2. Transporation services, parking lots and gas stations
  3. Restaurants, cafes, kiosks, hotels and inns.
  4. Industrial or agricultural factories which have round-the-clock production.
  5. Communications services.
  6. Water and electricity utilities.
  7. Fuel supply and delivery.
  8. Theaters, cinemas, and other places of entertainment.
  9. The press, radio, and television.
  10. Bread, fruit, vegetables, and dairy transport, on Elections Day until 11:00 AM.
  11. Grocery stores between 6:00 AM and 12:00 PM (up to 6 hours).
  12. Baking of bread and production of dairy products.
  13. Hospitals and medical services which function on Shabbat or holidays on special schedules will operate at the same times on Elections Day.
  14. Security forces and all types of rescue services.
  15. Burial services.
  16. All other services that operate on Shabbat or holidays on special schedules will operate at the same times on Elections Day.

Employees of all of the aforementioned services will be given the opportunity to vote.

For more information, go to the Knesset web site.

Free transportation on Election Day

According to the law, voters who on Elections Day are located at a distance of 20km or more from their designated polling stations are elligible for free transportation to their polling stations. A travel voucher will be given directly to the voter who presents either his/her identity card and its appendix with a current address, or his/her driver’s license together with the voter’s notification card that is delivered by mail.
Without the id card or diver’s license, the travel voucher will not be issued to the voter.
Travel will take place through the public transporation system – the intercity bus lines and Israel Railways. The voucher for the return trip will be valid also for the day after elections.
Travel vouchers will be available at the following locations and times:

  1. A voter using public transporation or Israel Railways can receive his/her round-trip voucher at all post offices around the country starting January 6, 2013 until January 21 2013.
  2. The voter travelling on Israel Railways will convert his/her voucher to a regular ticket at the cashiers of the train stations on Elections Day only. This ticket will allow return travel also on the day after elections.
  3. On Elections Day, vouchers will be distributed by a Central Elections Committee representative who will sit in the central bus and train stations.
  4. In special cases, vouchers will be distributed in the offices of the regional elections committees.

Those eligible for transport between Eilat and Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, or Be’er Sheva, will receive special Egged tickets at the Egged cashiers. These tickets will allow travel the day before elections and return the day after elections. Travellers to or from Eilat must preregister with Egged – either by phone 03-6948888 or *2800 or on Egged’s website: http://www.egged.co.il. To travel from any bus station located between the Arava intersection and Eilat, one needs to get the voucher from a post office branch or a mobile post office, starting January 6, 2013 until January 21 2013.
The following are the information centers which can answer questions regarding transport on Elections Day: “Egged” National Information Center: 03-6948888 or *2800 / http://www.egged.co.il Kavim 03-6066055 Elit 02-5807777 Israel Railways 03-6117000 or *5770 Superbus Ltd 1-700-700-181 G.B. Tours 04-6570745 Connex *6686 Galim 08-6688700 Golan Public Transportation 08-6964025 or *3254 Metropolin *5900 Nativ Express 04-6570350 Afikim 03-5252555 Nazareth Tourism 04-6570577 Egged Transport – 08-6260555

For more information about the elections, go to the Knesset web site.

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