Friday, August 28, 2009

Lets hope Barnet can be Easy

Barnet Council has made the news today, with its plans for major changes the Conservative Administration is planning to the way it is planning to run the Council. To those not from Barnet, or even England, this news might not sound that exciting, but I hope they mark a real change in the way in which beaureaucratic public services are provided in Barnet and across England.

After the last local elections in I supported Mike Freer as the Leader of the Council, as he promised to make major changes to the way the Council was run in order to save it money and so help to cut Council Tax for the public. These aims have taken a long time to come about and still appear to be a while from being implemented but at last some exciting plans seem to be emerging which will help to ensure the Council will be trying to make radical savings.

For the past seven years since being elected the Council administration has been making cost savings (I prefer 'cuts') to the Council Services but the easy options have now run out, and in Barnet as across the whole public sector, the time has come to look for really radical ways in which the publics money can be saved. This is even more urgent now, with the extoadinaly huge debts the Labour Government have got itself into, so that over the next few years, major cuts will have to be made in the public sector.

I am therefore pleased that at last Mike Freer is bringing forward these proposals to help change the way public services are offered in Barnet. It has just become too expensive for the public sector to continue with the way it has been delivering public services in Britain. I hope when the plans are announced in late September/early October they really are radical. If they show that the costs to the Council are going to be cut and more importantly Council Tax can be reduced, I look forward to giving my support to these proposals.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

EU Presidency supports blood libel

In an increasing anti-semitic Europe, a sad new peak was reached this week by the Swedish Government who are currently the Presidency of the European Union Council.

Last week the Aftonbladet newspaper published an article saying that Israeli solders were stealing body parts from Palestinians. I understand that newspapers can print articles criticising Israeli actions against its enemy during times of war, but when an article is printed with bocus accusations that body parts are being taken from Palestinians this should be criticised and dismissed as anti-semitic.

This accusation is not just anti-semitic but is a return to the pre-20th century anti-semitism of Europe, when Jews were attacked for stealing body parts and blood of Christian children, which were known as blood libels. Thus again showing that anti-Israel comments are often just another form of the age old anti-semitic attacks.

Correctly the Swedish Ambassador to Israel apologised for this but she was told to retract this apology by the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, by trying to justify freedom of speech. Thus the leaders of Europe are not against anti-semitic attacks. So until they condem this attack, there is no need for Israel to listen to an anti-semitic Europe.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Future - Newspapers or Blogs?

In my new job at the Jerusalem Post I am often asked by customers why they should buy a newspaper when they can read the same for free on the internet. I still feel there is nothing like being able to read a good newspaper while having a cup of coffee or travelling on the bus or train and so I believe there is a good reason to buy newspapers. However, as a blogger I am sure you would expect that I also like reading blogs from people of all different perspectives.

With the lack of news in England over the summer, debate has been turning as to the future of news reporting, and whether it will be through newspapers or blogs. This week there was a disagreement between The Financial Times and who I believe to be the leader of political blogging in the UK, Tim Montgomerie of Conservative Home, who here defended the future of blogs.

I am also pleased to see that in recent months two of my friends from UJS in my university campaigning days have joined the blogging community, Danny Stone and Luciana Berger. Sadly these two have not seen the light and are still supporters of left-wing causes and the Labour Party. I also think they are suffering from too much sun (or maybe rain) this summer and still don't want to see any change to a health system which is not the best in the world, despite billions being spent on it under a failing Labour Government.

In Israel, politics has also been only a little quieter over the summer, but things are starting to build up for what I think will be a very busy autumn, which will dominate not only Israeli politics but world politics.

Firstly, the Israeli Government is increasing it's pressure on Prime Minister Netenyahu not to give into American pressure on the right for Israeli's to settly in Jerusalem and its towns in the West Bank. (This is interesting in itself in that the Prime Minister is unable to dominate Israel's policy but has to reach a political consensus.)

The big question though will be Iran and if it will agree to at least negotiate with the west to stop its nuclear programme or carry on with its development of a nuclear bomb (with a lack of pressure from President Obama) so that by early 2010, according to President Shimon Peres, it will be able to cause another Holocaust.

So we will be having a busy autumn, which will be well reported in both newspapers and on the blogs.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The NHS is NOT the best in the world

When I lived in England I was always a supporter of the NHS. Luckily I have rarely had to use its services, but from others I understood it was good although not perfect. However, maybe for patriotic reasons I thought it was one of the best health services in the world.

However, now I am not sure. Since moving to Israel I have seen how hospitals and doctors surgeries look much cleaner than in England and in terms of waiting to see the doctor times are much shorter.

Waiting times are hours instead of days, and days instead of weeks and months.

Given the current debate in the UK and America over health services, what I find interesting is that former Brits feel that the Israeli health system is much better than the NHS, while Americans think that the health system in America is better than in Israel. Maybe this gives some idea about where the NHS lies.

I have never been an expert on funding health systems, but I also think the Israeli system is quite a good model.

There are four health insurance providers in Israel, and everone must be a member of one of these providers. Therefore there is some competition ans these providers compete to attract users by providing better services.

Everyone has at least a basic cover, partly paid by Government and partly paid for by a national insurance contribution which comes out of your wage. Individuals are than either to get extra insurance cover from their provider or just pay extra for services which are not covered by the basic insurance.

I don't know how good a system is but overall it is definitely better than Britain's NHS which is badly in need of reform.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Update, Jobs and Greens

I haven't had a chance to write a blog for a while. This is partly because I haven't known what to write about and also because I started in my first job in Israel a couple of weeks ago (well ... unless you count working on Kibbutz during my gap year. I worked as a farmer and don't think I will ever have to work as hard again).

I am working at the Jerusalem Post in the International Sales Team, so if you would like to start receiving any Jerusalem Post publication, let me know. This is a very different job to what I have been used to, given that I have only worked in the British public sector, trying to help the public, and now my ownly concern is making a profit.

So let me know if you want to get the:

-International Weekly Edition of the Jerusalem Post
- Jerusalem Report Magazine
- Christian Edition of the Jerusalem Post (a monthly magazine)
- 400 page Jerusalem Post Front Page Album

Following that advert, I would like to welcome the new olim that came on the Nefesh B'Nefesh flights yesterday and will be coming in the next few weeks. This reminded me of the excitement four months ago when we arrived in Israel. This already seems like a long-time and we are now use to sweltering in the heat and our daily lives in Modiin.

Finally, after work last night I caught the end of the Maccabi Haifa match, which they won and got through to the last qualifying round of the champions league. Haifa our my team in Israel, because during my gap year in Israel I went to their games throughout their European run 10 years ago, lets hope they can repeat their success this year, so come on the greens!