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Note that the dates indicate when I started writing about a topic. I might later make minor modifications such as adding a sentence or two, making small stylistic improvements or correcting typographical errors.

2015/05/19 Army needs to publish disqualifying medical conditions to enable public debate

In Israel the army does not publish a list of medical problems that disqualify prospective recruits, unlike the US army, which publishes such a list here. This prevents public debate on which medical conditions should and should not appear on the list.

2015/02/09 Election season in Israel

As usual, former Likud members of parliament or people who worked alongside Bibi form their own parties, so that they can get a better job in Bibi's future coalition. It's a smart strategy, as Bibi must appease members of parliament who are leaders of their own parties, since their parties can leave his government if they are dissatisfied with him. This time the newest party of this kind was formed by Kahlon - in the past similar parties were formed by Lieberman and Bennett.

2014/12/14 How to run a successful newspaper - my take

In Israel, cancelling a newspaper subscription is usually a painful process. Newspaper publishers believe that their best strategy for running a profitable newspaper is making the cancellation process difficult and offering discounts to existing subscribers for a limited period of time. The problem with this strategy is that many existing customers, such as casual readers who only read the newspaper after important events, have no incentive to continue their subscription.

I believe newspapers should in fact treat their subscribers differently. They should make the subscription rate expensive for new customers, and gradually cheaper for existing ones. If someone wishes to leave, the customer service representatives should comply with the request, thank the subscriber for investing money in the newspaper and offer to provide the same terms (e.g. the terms for someone who was a subscriber for two years) should the subscriber wish to return. What happens in Israel unfortunately is that the representatives argue with you and try to convince you to stay by offering you a better deal for a limited period of time (which might not be relevant as in many cases the reason for cancelling the subscription is not a financial one, e.g. if one leaves a spouse who reads the newspaper) and they also make leaving so difficult that you begin to hate the newspaper. My suggested strategy also saves money in customer service support that could be more wisely invested in hiring better and more journalists.

Another common mistake is raising prices in order to cover losses. More creative solutions, such as printing slightly less issues but offering subscribers the same number of issues (which wrestling magazine Power Slam did a year ago before the magazine folded and became an internet website), are preferable, as they demonstrate that the newspaper is doing its best to respect its existing subscribers rather than taking the easy way out by taking advantage of them in order to cover up managerial failures.

2014/11/25 Miri Regev vs Gili Golan - my take

I have a feeling that Miri Regev and Gili Golan are playing with the media, much like Jerry Lawler and Andy Kaufman did in their conflict which seemed realistic but was in fact staged. Miri Regev wants publicity and chooses to follow the adage "all publicity is good publicity". Gili Golan became a celebrity overnight after the media reported that Miri Regev decided to sue him for a very large amount of money (few people were aware that he called Miri Regev derogatory remarks before the lawsuit), and he only needed to curse Miri Regev in order to become one. The fact that Gili Golan is counter-suing Miri Regev for exactly the same amount of money that she is suing him for might indicate that the two are in fact collaborating on this stunt. I have a feeling that the case will not actually reach the courts, and if it does it will be immediately dismissed. In my view, the media should ignore such stunts (if in fact this conflict turn out to be a stunt) and should only begin discussing this conflict once the trial commences.

2014/11/24 "Rav Kav" electronic card is being forced upon train passengers in Israel

At the end of this month, train passengers in Israel who are eligible for discounts such as students and elderly people will only receive the discounts if they use "Rav Kav" electronic cards on which their photographs appear and which prevents them from giving or selling their tickets to other people. In addition, if you have for instance a student card and you are no longer a student or you forgot to inform Rav Kav's offices at the beginning of a new academic year that you are still a student, the money invested into the card cannot be used at all until you sort out your new status at Rav Kav's offices (you cannot simply buy a regular ticket with a student card - the money is locked inside the card until you sort out your new status). For these reasons I advise fellow students to purchase at a discounted price as many train cards as they can until the end of the month, and I will try to fight this change as much as I can.

UPDATE (08/2016): You can now purchase a semi-anonymous or anonymous Rav Kav card. You are not eligible for discounts if you use the anonymous card, but you can buy tickets for several people if you added money to the card (however it is not valid for a daily, weekly or monthly pass). The semi-anonymous card looks like the regular Rav Kav card (a name and photograph are imprinted on it), but supposedly the data is only stored on the card itself and your full ID number does not appear inside the card, so you cannot restore the travel plans you purchased in case you lose it (but if the card itself becomes faulty you might still be able to recover data from it).

2014/11/17 The Israeli army and soldiers with mental issues

People talk about the Israeli army being immoral for perpetuating the occupation of the Palestinian people. However, what is rarely mentioned is that the military actually does a different disservice: it recruits people with mental disorders, and rather than treating their disorders, the army simply assigns them the worst positions such as drivers and cooks. Since they are surrounded by other people many of whom suffer from mental or behavorial problems, their condition can deteriorate during their military service. In order to overcome mental problems, one needs a supportive environment, and being surrounded by people with similar problems makes it much harder to overcome these issues. I think the army should either make sure people with mental issues seek professional help before joining the army or it should discharge them, but taking advantage of people in order to fill up the quota of positions such as drivers and cooks is very problematic.

In addition, the classification of potential army candidates is based on diagnosis performed by medical staff such as doctors and psychologists who, in many cases, are not experienced enough to perform such diagnosis. A sufficiently wealthy adult seeking professional help turns to an experienced therapist or to a specialized doctor. In the army, the members of the medical staff who determine the physical and mental state of potential candidates have, in many cases, not dealt with non-textbook medical conditions.