What terrible timing.

Just as Discount's leaders were trying to grapple with the bank's heavy losses and capital crunch; just as its PR campaign to show it isn't a has-been, starring Israeli mega-celebrity Modi Bar-On, was gaining momentum; just as the bank most needed the public's support for its controversial effort to sell its star asset, its New York bank a gang of crooks mocked all the security systems and robbed the safety deposit boxes of Discount's central branch.

Within a few hours, they had emptied 451 safety deposit boxes and waltzed off.

The pictures splashed across the front pages showing dozens of infuriated customers storming the Yehuda Halevy branch surely did Bank Discount's tattered image no good.

But the really wacky part of the whole affair was testimony that the bank's alarm system had been shrieking for hours - but the bank's guards ignored it.

The police have just begun investigating the crime. The veracity of that statement bears checking.

But to tell the truth, the thought that an alarm siren could wail for hours with nobody doing damn-all about it now, that sounds like Israel.

• Bank Discount itself

is a stellar example of the prevailing apathy. An alarm has been sounding at the bank five years now. From the day Arie Mientkavich joined as chairman, he has been warning that Discount is under the thumb of its labor representatives, who could destroy the whole bank outright.

But only after the klaxon had been clamoring for five years, and the bank's losses had mounted for two, did it occur to the regulator and to the government to do something to save the bank.

• Budgetary pensions

: Every year the treasury publishes estimates of the state's actuarial commitments to its workers, the local authorities, the defense establishment and other bodies nursing off the taxpayer.

The numbers are terrifying. The state's actuarial commitments have rocketed by tens of billions of shekels in recent years. Within a decade, a substantial chunk of the state's budget, and that of its institutions, will be tied up in lavish payments to people who long since stopped serving the public.

The siren is shrieking but nobody's listening. Periodically the demand is raised to lift retirement in the defense establishment, or to shift the public service and ministers - to cumulative pensions instead of budgetary ones, but any attempts to change the situation get buried.

• The tax burden

on Israelis has been rising steadily for five years, while dropping in the West. Marginal tax in Israel reaches 60%, compared with 47% in the developed world. The result is impaired competitiveness, a weak business sector, and cracks in the economy's pillars.

That siren has been sounding for years, but Israel's parliamentarians and ministers walk on. Every single economic program the government has adopted in recent years has incorporated a tax raise, overtly or covertly.

The government's latest economic program lifted marginal tax from 53% to 63%. The sirens howled again when it became apparent that thousands of Israelis had set up "management companies" in recent weeks, designed solely to avoid the insane tax rates. The result is that by year-end, tens of thousands of Israelis will have turned into tax evaders, which will inevitably increase the burden of tax on those segments of society who cannot plan their taxes.

• The budget deficit

looks likely to break records this year. When measured using international criteria, it could even surpass that of Japan a nation with one of the most mud-spattered macro-economic policy in the world.

That particular alarm has been wailing for ten years. While the developed nations got serious about trimming government spending, to free the business sector to generate growth, create jobs and raise the standard of living, Israel's trend is the reverse.

The alarm is howling, sirens are going off up and down the national accounts, by year-end Israel could be downgraded by credit rating companies, which will make the rally even harder to achieve. But our economic leaders, our ministers, our prime ministers, and mainly the public that keeps electing them every four years keep turning a deaf ear.