From Taxman to Axeman


The taxman’s taken all my dough-James Dalrymple,Thomas Rue contra Andrew Houstoun, 1668


by Roy Tov

“What are you talking about, that can’t be truth! They are Jews!”

The incredible reaction came as an interruption to my lesson, a few years ago. I had been teaching that Israel is not Israel (meaning that the State is not the Kingdom). After I ended, people asked questions and I found myself describing how beggars die in the cold and humid winters of Tel Aviv. Hungry children beg for food while the rich get richer and richer. Dickens at his best.
“What are you talking about, that can’t be truth! They are Jews!”
The West being the West, any answer was useless. State propaganda is the only truth.

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From Taxman to Axeman
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The Nature of State Corruption
State corruption in Israel is pretty much the norm, as the always growing State Corruption section shows. Before going to the core topic of this article, let me illustrate the problem with the Teva Affair (“Teva” means “Nature” in Hebrew).
Teva—the pharmaceutical company mentioned in The Cross of Bethlehem—is one of the largest companies in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. A quarter of this market is driven by two companies: Teva Pharmaceutical Industries and Israel Chemicals.
Its Chairman of the Board and former CEO is an extremely influential person in the Israeli economy, more so than any single American had ever influenced American economy. Yet, Eliyahu “Eli” Hurvitz committed a crime in the eyes of the bureaucrats running the Israeli Administration: in several occasions he openly said that he wanted to pay as few taxes as legally possible.
Consequently, he constructed Teva in such a way, with many of its operations taking place beyond the reach of the Israeli taxation system. It would be difficult to pick up Israeli newspapers from the 1990s without finding references to his persecution by the taxation system, which was determined to milk Teva to death.
In March 1996, Eli Hurvitz was indicted on charges of an $18 million tax evasion in corporate taxes as head of a Teva subsidiary, Promedico. In 1998, Jerusalem District Court convicted him. He was acquitted by the Supreme Court of Israel only in 2000, when it became clear that a single taxman had decided to transform his life into hell no matter what.
“You—lousy citizens—are here to pay taxes and enable our comfy pensions” was apparently the message of the Israeli Administration to its slaves. The system is plagued by corruption and, personal interpretation of the law by partial sides. The happy end of Hurvitz case was possible only due to his financial capability to take the state to court. Mere humans are constantly abused by these democracies, where Justice is a prerogative of the rich.
Axeman the Taxman Hits the Citizens
Civil servants know that their crimes would be defended by the State for as long as they can be somehow justified. The taxman described above remained free and working for Israel’s Tax Authority even after that his unjustified attack had been proven in Court.
Yet, even a corrupt regime has boundaries. It must broadcast to the people an image of respectability; otherwise it is just a matter of time until a revolution topples it.
Where is the boundary? On June 30, 2013, Michael Shoshan—head of an Israeli tax and crime-fighting investigative team—was indicted on charges including breaking, theft, forgery, and fraud. He became so productive on these that there was no way of hiding the crimes.
Mr. Shoshan, a Modi’in* settler, broke into the home of one of the subjects under investigation in Rishon Letzion, near Tel Aviv. Using information from the file, he stole roughly $15,000 in cash, expensive jewelry, two HP laptops, two Samsung Galaxy smartphones, a camcorder, and a digital camera.
After the investigation started, the shiny taxman entered the police crime-fighting unit’s exhibit storeroom and took confiscated checks. Using them, he robbed millions of Israeli shekels. After the owner cancelled the checks, Shoshan sent him a threatening text message.
Unable to decide what to do with his new assets, he chose to become richer.
During the investigation, he approached money changers claiming to be a tax inspector. Openly, he stole money from them and they complained to the police. He worked for the Tax Authority but not as an inspector. Some of the money was later found on him.
Israel’s Tax Authority reacted: “The Tax Authority views acts like these attributed to an employee of the authority with great severity and will deal harshly against any similar case as part of its policy of exposing and stamping out any violation of integrity that may exist.” Yet, considering past events, this statement is doubtful.
The only thing that is clear is that this corrupt organization of the State will for sure “deal harshly”—taxes and axes—towards the citizens daring to denounce it.
full version at
* Israel is for years now widenning the corridor connecting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv through the construction of a secondary access road. This is known as Route 443, which links north Jerusalem and the West Bank settlements with the city of Modi’in-Maccabim-Re’ut and Tel Aviv.
This project is military in concept and implementation. The route passes near several major IDF bases, including Beit Horon and Mitkan Adam. Moreover, the city of Modi’in-Maccabim-Re’ut was planned by the army and settled with military officers during its first years (when it was three different settlements, which were merged into a city in 2003). Specifically, the Re’ut part of the project was led in 1987 by the IDF officers’ association.


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Roi Tov is a graduate—among others—of Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science. In addition to his memoir, Tov is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Molecular Physics and other scientific journals. He won various travel writing and photography awards. In his writings, he tries to reveal life in Israel as a Christian Israel Defense Force (IDF) officer—from human rights violations to the use of an extensive network of underground agents. He was recognized first as a refugee and subsequently as political prisoner of Bolivia.