Corporate Taxes Are Wealth Taxes

The main cause of the radical decline in tax rates for very wealthy Americans over the past 75 years isn’t the one that many people would guess. It’s not about lower income taxes (though they certainly play a role), and it’s not about lower estate taxes (though they matter too).

The biggest tax boon for the wealthy has been the sharp fall in the corporate tax rate.

In the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, many corporations paid about half of their profits to the federal government. The money helped pay for the U.S. military and for investments in roads, bridges, schools, scientific research and more. “A dirty little secret,” Richard Clarida, an economist who’s now the vice chairman of the Federal Reserve, once said, “is that the corporate income tax used to raise a fair amount of revenue.”

paid zero federal income taxes last year, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. Among them: Archer-Daniels-Midland, Booz Allen Hamilton, FedEx, HP, Interpublic, Nike and Xcel Energy.

Alan Rappeport and Jim Tankersley of The Times write.

The justification for the tax cuts has often been that the economy as a whole will benefit — that lower corporate taxes would lead to company expansions, more jobs and higher incomes. But it hasn’t worked out that way. Instead, economic growth has been mediocre since the 1970s. And incomes have grown even more slowly than the economy for every group except the wealthy.

Gabriel Zucman, an economist and tax specialist at the University of California, Berkeley, told me. “The main reason why the U.S. tax system was so progressive before the 1980s is because of heavy taxes on corporate profits.”

President Biden is now trying to reverse some (but by no means all) of the decline in corporate taxes. His plan would raise the corporate tax rate, punish companies that move profits overseas and introduce a rule meant to prevent companies from paying zero taxes, among other things. The money would help pay for his infrastructure plan. “It’s honest, it’s fair, it’s fiscally responsible, and it pays for what we need,” Biden said at the White House yesterday.

Experts and critics are already raising legitimate questions about his plan, and there will clearly be a debate about it. Biden said he was open to compromises and other ideas.

But one part of the criticism is pretty clearly inconsistent with the facts: The long-term decline in corporate taxes doesn’t seem to have provided much of a benefit for most American families.

For more: If you haven’t yet listened to yesterday’s episode of “The Daily” — in which Jesse Drucker explains how Bristol Myers Squibb has avoided taxes — I recommend it.

She died at 88.

swelling anti-Asian violence and harassment in the U.S., nearly 30 Asian and Asian-American photographers shared what love looks like in their lives.

some time with the photo essay here.

sheet-pan jerk salmon cooks quickly. For more dinnertime inspiration, see the 17 best recipes the NYT cooking team made last month.

Make friends with fungi, both the kind you plant and those that seem to pop up on their own.

“First Person Singular,” Haruki Murakami’s new story collection, allows the author’s “own voice — or what sounds like his own voice, wonderfully translated by Philip Gabriel — to enter the narratives,” David Means writes in a review.

The late-night hosts talked about Representative Matt Gaetz.

predicted that the new name was “not likely to be forgotten.”

You can see today’s print front page here.

Today’s episode of “The Daily” is about the Chauvin trial. On “Sway,” Diana Trujillo discusses the future of space travel.

Lalena Fisher, Ian Prasad Philbrick, Tom Wright-Piersanti and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at themorning@nytimes.com.

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The Georgia Voting Fight

Biden, for example, suggested that the law would close polling places at 5 p.m. It won’t. As is already the law, local governments must keep polling places open until 5 p.m. and can keep them open until 7 p.m. (CNN’s Daniel Dale and The Post’s Glenn Kessler have both laid out Biden’s incorrect assertions.)

“The entire existence of the legislation in question is premised on a pernicious lie,” The Bulwark’s Tim Miller wrote. “But for some reason Biden & many other Dems are grossly exaggerating the specifics of what it actually does.” In some cases, Democrats appear to be talking about provisions that the Georgia legislature considered but did not include.

What about the impact of the provisions that really are in the law? That’s inherently uncertain. But The Times’s Nate Cohn has argued that the effects will be smaller than many critics suggest. He thinks it will have little effect on overall turnout or on election outcomes.

He points out that the law mostly restricts early voting, not Election Day voting. Early voters tend to be more highly educated and more engaged with politics. They often vote no matter what, be it early or on Election Day. More broadly, Nate argues that modest changes to voting convenience — like those in the Georgia law — have had little to no effect when other states have adopted them.

Of course, Georgia is so closely divided that even a small effect — on, say, turnout in Atlanta — could decide an election. And the law has one other alarming aspect, as both Nate and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Patricia Murphy have noted: It could make it easier for state legislators to overturn a future election result after votes have been counted.

The new Georgia law is intended to be a partisan power grab. It is an attempt to win elections by changing the rules rather than persuading more voters. It’s inconsistent with the basic ideals of democracy. But if it’s intent is clear, its impact is less so. It may not have the profound effect that its designers hope and its critics fear.

Substack’s Matthew Yglesias offers a helpful bit of context: Georgia’s law is based on “a big lie,” he writes, which certainly is worrisome. But the impact is likely to be modest, he predicts. And for people worried about the state of American democracy, laws like Georgia’s are not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that the Electoral College, the structure of the Senate and the gerrymandering of House districts all mean that winning public opinion often isn’t enough to win elections and govern the country.

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Are Democrats Friends with Big Business Now?

Still, statements by companies about their social priorities deserve a healthy dose of skepticism.

Indeed, some of the same companies taking part in the stampede of statements critiquing voting laws, like Facebook, Google and AT&T, also recently donated money to the Republican State Leadership Committee, a group that supports many of the voting initiatives. Judd Legum, a journalist, pointed out this hypocrisy in his Popular Information newsletter, noting that Republicans have introduced bills to restrict voting in 47 states.

In the case of businesses like Coca-Cola and Delta, their more forceful, specific statements against the voting law in Georgia came only after the bill passed and 72 senior Black executives had spoken out, giving them cover.

And statements — even moving an All-Star Game — are not expensive. Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, made this point in a letter to M.L.B.’s commissioner, Rob Manfred, calling its move “an easy way to signal virtues without significant financial fallout.”

Mr. Rubio also told Mr. Manfred, “I am under no illusion you intend to resign as a member from Augusta National Golf Club,” which is in Georgia. “To do so would require a personal sacrifice, as opposed to the woke corporate virtue signaling of moving the All-Star Game from Atlanta.”

The decision to move the game will impact “countless small and minority-owned businesses in and around Atlanta,” Mr. Rubio wrote.

On that last point Mr. Rubio has an ally of sorts in Stacey Abrams, the Democratic organizer in Georgia, but not because they agree on the underlying issue. Ms. Abrams said: “I am disappointed that the M.L.B. is relocating the All-Star Game; however, I commend the players, owners and league commissioner for speaking out. I urge others in positions of leadership to do so as well.”

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Business Has Only One Political Party: Profit

Still, statements by companies about their social priorities deserve a healthy dose of skepticism.

Indeed, some of the same companies taking part in the stampede of statements critiquing voting laws, like Facebook, Google, and AT&T, also recently donated money to the Republican State Leadership Committee, a group that supports many of the voting initiatives. Judd Legum, a journalist, pointed out this hypocrisy in his Popular Information newsletter, noting that Republican state lawmakers have introduced bills to restrict voting in 47 states.

In the case of businesses like Coca-Cola and Delta, their more forceful, specific statements against the voting law in Georgia came only after the bill passed and 72 senior Black executives had spoken out, giving them cover.

And statements — even moving an All-Star Game — are not expensive. Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, made this point in a letter to M.L.B.’s commissioner, Robert Manfred, calling its move “an easy way to signal virtues without significant financial fallout.”

Mr. Rubio also told Mr. Manfred, “I am under no illusion you intend to resign as a member from Augusta National Golf Club,” which is based in Georgia. “To do so would require a personal sacrifice, as opposed to the woke corporate virtue signaling of moving the All-Star Game from Atlanta.”

The decision to move the game will impact “countless small and minority owned businesses in and around Atlanta,” Mr. Rubio wrote.

On that last point Mr. Rubio has an ally of sorts in Stacey Abrams, the Democratic organizer in Georgia, but not because they agree on the underlying issue. Ms. Abrams said, “I am disappointed that the M.L.B. is relocating the All-Star game; however I commend the players, owners and League commissioner for speaking out. I urge others in positions of leadership to do so as well.”

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Biden’s Judge Push

President Biden last week named 11 people he plans to nominate to serve on federal courts, more than any recent president this early in his term. Nine are women, three are Black women and one would become the country’s first Muslim federal judge.

I spoke to Carl Hulse, The Times’s chief Washington correspondent and the author of a book about Trump-era fights over the judiciary, about why Biden is rushing to shape the courts and how judges became so central to American politics. Our conversation has been condensed.

Ian: Donald Trump’s judicial appointments were a big part of his presidency, and now Biden seems to be making filling vacancies a priority. Why have the courts become so important?

Carl: Because the courts are deciding our political fights now. Climate change, voting rights, immigration, redistricting: Because the legislative branch is so stuck, the courts are getting to be the arbiters. They’ve been amplified as a political issue because of their increased importance in deciding big, cutting-edge issues.

put 220-some judges on there — many of them very conservative, most of them white males and some of them with very little legal experience — the Biden folks concluded they needed to get different kinds of people on the courts.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago, has a totally white lineup of judges. So Biden picked Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, who is a Black woman and a former federal public defender. Public defenders see the federal courts from another side — from the perspective of the defendant. That’s a big change. I think Biden wanted to make a statement about the kinds of judges he wants: people with different life and legal experiences.

There are currently 68 vacancies, with another 26 scheduled to open this year. Does that limit how transformative Biden can be?

The transformation is going to be in the types of judges. Biden is going to have a hard time matching Trump’s numbers, which were over four years. And that was a concerted campaign by Mitch McConnell, to the exclusion of many other things.

a bigger point of emphasis because of Trump. Democrats watched what Senator McConnell did so successfully, and they are eager to replicate that from the other end of the ideological spectrum. Trump’s going to have people on the bench for 30 years, maybe 40. There’s still a few Reagan judges out there.

Trump appointed three justices to the Supreme Court. Many Democrats hope that Stephen Breyer, who is 82 and one of the court’s three remaining liberals, will retire soon. Does that seem like Biden’s best hope to fill a seat?

We’ll see what happens. A lot of Democrats don’t want to get caught in this Ruth Bader Ginsburg situation again. And Justice Breyer is an extremely smart guy, and also a political guy. He knows what’s going on here.

The Virus

Suzanne Nossel argues in Foreign Policy.

  • “A lot of them wanted to blow up Washington. That’s why they thought they were elected,” John Boehner, a Republican who served as House speaker, writes in Politico Magazine about the right’s paranoid turn. (Warning: Profanity abounds.)

  • Morning Reads

    A New SoHo: It was a haven for artists. Now it’s full of luxury storefronts. What’s next? Maybe affordable housing.

    Lives Lived: Winfred Rembert survived a near-lynching in rural Georgia in 1967. He learned to carve figures into leather while in prison, and later became a renowned artist whose work told the story of the Jim Crow South. He died at 75.

    writes in The Times.

    The pandemic has left many reeling from a loss of health, of income, of loved ones or of a normal way of life. Though circumstances vary, the mood is often similar.

    “When people are under a long period of chronic, unpredictable stress, they develop behavioral anhedonia” — a reduced ability to take pleasure in activities — Margaret Wehrenberg, an expert on anxiety, said. “And so they get lethargic, and they show a lack of interest — and obviously that plays a huge role in productivity.”

    How are people trying to cope? Some are meditating, turning to alcohol or edibles, going for walks or re-engaging with a spiritual practice. Others are finding pockets of joy where they can — sending postcards, exchanging gifts with neighbors or adopting pets. And some have embraced the notion that it’s all right not to be productive during a period of major global upheaval.

    “You’re supposed to be inventing something or coming up with the next big business idea,” one person told The Times last year. “I’m trying to be more OK with just being.”

    is miso.

    What to Watch

    The Korean star Yuh-Jung Youn has had a thriving career for five decades. Now, at 73, she’s up for an Oscar for her role in “Minari.” She spoke with The Times about her career.

    Close Read

    Explore the hidden details of this stunning 17th-century portrait of the emperor who built the Taj Mahal.

    Late Night

    Daniel Kaluuya, star of “Get Out” and “Judas and the Black Messiah,” hosted “Saturday Night Live” this past weekend. Here’s a recap.

    Now Time to Play

    play online.

    And Friday’s Bee Plus answer: CHINA, CHIA, ECHINACEA

    Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Gas that comes down as rain on Jupiter (four letters).

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    Israel offers a hint of what post-pandemic life may look like.

    Israel’s vaccination program has been remarkably swift and successful. In recent weeks, new coronavirus infections have dropped significantly, from a peak of 10,000 a day in January to a few hundred by late March. The economy has almost fully reopened.

    And just as Israel became a real-world laboratory for the efficacy of the vaccine, it is now becoming a test case for a post-lockdown, post-vaccinated society.

    The Green Pass, a document that can be downloaded to a smartphone, is the entry ticket.

    Green Pass holders may dine indoors in restaurants, stay in hotels and attend cultural, sports and religious gatherings in the thousands both indoors and out. They can go to gyms, swimming pools and the theater. They can get married in wedding halls.

    Local newspapers and television stations are advertising summer getaways for the fully vaccinated in countries prepared to take them, including Greece, Georgia and the Seychelles.

    Restaurants ask those booking tables: Do you have a Green Pass? Are you vaccinated?

    The system is imperfect, and, beyond the Green Pass, in many ways “system” may be an overstatement. Enforcement has been patchy. There are troubling questions about those who are not vaccinated and noisy debates playing out in real time — some landing in court — about the rules and responsibilities of the return to near normalcy.

    Moreover, there’s no guarantee that this really is the start of a post-pandemic future. Any number of factors — delays in vaccine production, the emergence of a new vaccine-resistant variant and the huge numbers of Israelis who remain unvaccinated — could rip the rug out from under it.

    The new world has also underscored the inequities and divides between societies with more or less access to the vaccine. Many in the West Bank and Gaza have not been able to get vaccinations yet.

    The Palestinian vaccination campaign is just getting started, with doses largely donated by other countries amid a bitter debate over Israel’s legal and moral obligations for the health of people in territory it occupies. Israel has vaccinated about 100,000 Palestinians who work in Israel or in West Bank settlements but has been criticized for not doing more.

    More than 5.2 million Israelis have received at least one shot of the Pfizer vaccine. About four million remain unvaccinated, half of them people under 16 who are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine pending regulatory approvals and further testing on children. Hundreds of thousands of citizens who have recovered from Covid-19 were only recently included in Israel’s vaccination program.

    And up to a million people have so far chosen not to get vaccinated, despite Israel’s enviable supply of doses.

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    Inside Corporate America’s Frantic Response to the Georgia Voting Law

    On March 11, Delta Air Lines dedicated a building at its Atlanta headquarters to Andrew Young, the civil rights leader and former mayor. At the ceremony, Mr. Young spoke of the restrictive voting rights bill that Republicans were rushing through the Georgia state legislature. Then, after the speeches, Mr. Young’s daughter, Andrea, a prominent activist herself, cornered Delta’s chief executive, Ed Bastian.

    “I told him how important it was to oppose this law,” she said.

    For Mr. Bastian, it was an early warning that the issue of voting rights might soon ensnare Delta in another national dispute. Over the past five years, corporations have taken political stands like never before, often in response to the extreme policies of former President Donald J. Trump.

    After Mr. Trump’s equivocating response to the white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, Ken Frazier, the Black chief executive of Merck, resigned from a presidential advisory group, prompting dozens of other top executives to distance themselves from the president. Last year, after the killing of George Floyd, hundreds of companies expressed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

    But for corporations, the dispute over voting rights is different. An issue that both political parties see as a priority is not easily addressed with statements of solidarity and donations. Taking a stand on voting rights legislation thrusts companies into partisan politics and pits them against Republicans who have proven willing to raise taxes and enact onerous regulations on companies that cross them politically.

    Major League Baseball pulled the All-Star game from Atlanta in protest, and more than 100 other companies spoke out in defense of voting rights.

    The groundswell of support suggests that the Black executives’ clarion call will have an impact in the months ahead, as Republican lawmakers in more than 40 states advance restrictive voting laws. But already, the backlash has been swift, with Mr. Trump calling for boycotts of companies opposing such laws, and Georgia lawmakers voting for new taxes on Delta.

    eliminate a tax break for Delta, costing the company $50 million.

    Yet as 2021 began and Mr. Bastian focused on his company’s recovery from the pandemic, an even more partisan issue loomed.

    In February, civil rights activists began reaching out to Delta, flagging what they saw as problematic provisions in early drafts of the bill, including a ban on Sunday voting, and asking the company to use its clout and lobbying muscle to sway the debate.

    Delta’s government affairs team shared some of those concerns, but decided to work behind the scenes, rather than go public. It was a calculated choice intended to avoid upsetting Republican lawmakers.

    In early March, Delta lobbyists pushed David Ralston, the Republican head of the Georgia house, and aides to Gov. Brian Kemp to remove some far-reaching provisions in the bill.

    followed the same script, refraining from criticizing the bill.

    That passive approach infuriated activists. In mid-March, protesters staged a “die in” at Coca-Cola’s museum. Bishop Reginald Jackson, an influential Atlanta pastor, took to the streets with a bullhorn and called for a boycott of Coca-Cola. Days later, activists massed at the Delta terminal at the Atlanta airport and called on Mr. Bastian to use his clout to “kill the bill.” Still, Mr. Bastian declined to say anything publicly.

    Two weeks to the day after Delta dedicated its building to Mr. Young, the law was passed. Some of the most restrictive provisions had been removed, but the law limits ballot access and makes it a crime to give water to people waiting in line to vote.

    The fight in Georgia appeared to be over. Days after the law was passed though, a group of powerful Black executives frustrated by the results sprang into action. Soon, Atlanta companies were drawn back into the fight, and the controversy had spread to other corporations around the country.

    spoke with the media. “There is no middle ground here,” Mr. Chenault told The Times. “You either are for more people voting, or you want to suppress the vote.”

    “This was unprecedented,” Mr. Lewis said. “The African-American business community has never coalesced around a nonbusiness issue and issued a call to action to the broader corporate community.”

    Mr. Bastian had been unable to sleep on Tuesday night after his call with Mr. Chenault, according to two people familiar with the matter. He had also been receiving a stream of emails about the law from Black Delta employees, who make up 21 percent of the company’s work force. Eventually, Mr. Bastian came to the conclusion that it was deeply problematic, the two people said.

    accused Mr. Bastian of spreading “the same false attacks being repeated by partisan activists.” And Republicans in the Georgia house voted to strip Delta of a tax break, just as they did three years ago. “You don’t feed a dog that bites your hand,” said Mr. Ralston, the house speaker.

    Senator Marco Rubio of Florida posted a video in which he called Delta and Coca-Cola “woke corporate hypocrites” and Mr. Trump joined the calls for a boycott of companies speaking out against the voting laws.

    Companies that had taken a more cautious approach weren’t targeted the same way. UPS and Home Depot, big Atlanta employers, also faced early calls to oppose the Georgia law, but instead made unspecific commitments to voting rights.

    declared their opposition to proposed voting legislation in that state. And on Friday, more than 170 companies signed a statement calling on elected officials around the country to refrain from enacting legislation that makes it harder for people to vote.

    It was messy, but to many activists, it was progress. “Companies don’t exist in a vacuum,” said Stacey Abrams, who has worked for years to get out the Black vote in Georgia. “It’s going to take a national response by corporations to stop what happened in Georgia from happening in other states.”

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    My Life in Israel’s Brave New Post-Pandemic Future

    A Green Pass allows us, the vaccinated, to go to concerts, restaurants and sporting events. But Israel’s real-time experiment in post-lockdown living leaves many questions unanswered.


    TEL AVIV — As the lights dimmed and the music started up, an audible wave of excitement rippled through the crowd. Somebody a few rows above me ululated with joy, as if at a Middle Eastern wedding.

    I had come to Tel Aviv’s Bloomfield soccer stadium for a concert by Dikla, an Israeli singer of Iraqi and Egyptian origins, which was hailed by the city as a celebration of the “comeback of culture.” It was the first live performance I had attended in over a year. There were only 500 vaccinated Israelis in a stadium that ordinarily holds nearly 30,000 people but it felt strange and exhilarating to be in a crowd of any size after a year of intermittent lockdowns.

    The audience was confined to their socially distanced seats, dancing in place and singing along through their masks. But the atmosphere was exuberant and it confirmed my status as a member of a new privileged class: the fully vaccinated.

    We, a group that includes more than half of Israel’s nine million people, are getting a taste of a post-pandemic future.

    new cases of Covid-19 have dropped dramatically, from a peak of 10,000 a day in January to a few hundred by late March. The economy has almost fully reopened. Just as Israel became a real-world laboratory for the efficacy of the vaccine, it is now becoming a test case for a post-lockdown, post-vaccinated society.

    The Green Pass is your entry ticket.

    Green Pass holders may dine indoors in restaurants, stay in hotels and attend indoor and outdoor cultural, sports and religious gatherings in the thousands. We can go to gyms, swimming pools and the theater. We can get married in wedding halls.

    celebrated the spring holidays of Passover and Easter in the company of family and friends.

    Local newspapers and television stations are advertising summer getaways for the fully vaccinated in countries prepared to take them, including Greece, Georgia and the Seychelles.

    And when you book a table at a restaurant, they ask, Do you have a Green Pass? Are you vaccinated?

    The system is imperfect, and, beyond the Green Pass, in many ways “system” may be an overstatement. Enforcement has been patchy. There are troubling questions about those who are not vaccinated and noisy debates playing out in real time — some landing in court — about the rules and responsibilities of the return to near normalcy.

    Moreover, there’s no guarantee that this really is the start of a post-pandemic future. Any number of factors — delays in vaccine production, the emergence of a new vaccine-resistant variant and the huge numbers of Israelis who remain unvaccinated — could rip the rug out from under it.

    post that getting vaccinated was for the common good, balancing public health against personal liberty, part of the social contract and a civic duty just like stopping at a red light.

    “We have an issue here,” she said in an interview. “The world is paralyzed, people have lost their livelihoods, their health, their hope. When you put all those things on the scale, come on, just get inoculated! And if you really don’t want to, stay home.”

    To solve the conundrum, and cater to under 16s, the government has allowed venues to offer rapid testing as an alternative to the Green Pass. But many business owners, responsible for ordering and financing the testing stations, have found the logistics impractical.

    Unlike concerts and soccer matches, however, going to work is not a luxury for most people.

    A teaching assistant at a school for children with special needs in central Israel refused to be vaccinated or, as her employer, the town of Kochav Yair-Tzur Yigal, demanded instead, present a negative Covid test on a weekly basis.

    The school barred her from coming into work, with backing from the town council.

    The teaching assistant, Sigal Avishai, appealed to the Labor Court in Tel Aviv. She argued that the council’s demands “impinged on her privacy” and were “without legal basis,” and that the requirement of a weekly test “was intended to pressure her into getting vaccinated contrary to her beliefs,” according to court documents.

    Last month,the court ruled against her, saying her rights had to be balanced against those of the teaching staff, the children and their parents to “life, education and health,” citing the particular vulnerability of the children in question.

    In a country with plenty of doses to go around, access to the vaccine is not an issue, said Gil Gan-Mor, director of the civil and social rights unit at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.

    In Israel, he said, “Anybody who is complaining can get the vaccine tomorrow morning.”

    But in the absence of legislation, employers have been making up their own policies. At least one college of higher education was relying on the Labor Court precedent to require all staff and students to obtain a Green Pass in order to attend classes on campus.

    In another case that went to court, the Health Ministry wanted to distribute lists of unvaccinated people to the local authorities so the authorities could, for example, identify unvaccinated teachers who have returned to school and try to persuade them to get vaccinated.

    Citizens rights groups sued to prevent the ministry from distributing the lists, arguing that it was an invasion of privacy and that the medical information could not be adequately safeguarded. The case is before the Supreme Court.

    Even where there are rules, enforcement is spotty.

    The concert in Tel Aviv was the first time I was asked to show my Green Pass — and the last. My family has since spent a weekend at a B&B in the Galilee where breakfast was served in a closed room for all the guests, including unvaccinated children. A crowded Italian restaurant in the area made it clear that it was not sticking to the regulations, offering us indoor seating with a 7-year-old.

    Back in Jerusalem, when I phoned to make a reservation for two at my favorite restaurant, serving pricey fresh market cuisine from a lively open kitchen, I was asked if we both had Green Passes. But when we arrived, nobody asked to see them.

    The tables were placed as cozily as ever. Strangers sat shoulder to shoulder at the bar. Our young waitress was unmasked. A diner at the next table questioned how Covid-safe it all was, then shrugged and carried on with her dessert.

    Some restaurant owners and managers complained that the pandemic has left them chronically short staffed and that they could not be expected to police the customers as well.

    “It’s embarrassing,” said Eran Avishai, a part-owner of a Jerusalem restaurant. “I have to ask people all sorts of personal questions.” Some customers have come up with excuses and notes explaining why they have not been vaccinated, he said, and “all sorts of things that I don’t want to have to hear about.”

    However, some restaurants are strictly observing the regulations, even checking the Green Pass against customers’ identity cards. Based on experience, friends are swapping tips and recommendations on Facebook regarding the entry policies of local eateries and watering holes. And at least one hipster pub in Jerusalem is asking only unfamiliar clientele to show Green Passes and using the system to keep out undesirables.

    I feel a personal sense of lightness and relief as I go about my new, vaccinated life. I even caught myself the other day in the supermarket without my mask on, which is still required in public places.

    We are living in splendid isolation. Virus restrictions still make most travel a daunting proposition and non-Israelis generally cannot enter the country. I miss my family overseas. Until the rest of the world catches up, we are a nation living in a bubble.

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