Originally published in Israel Today
Customs officials at Israel’s ports of entry have seen all kinds of attempts and heard all kinds of excuses from passengers trying to sneak by without paying taxes on their purchases made abroad. But this week they were left stunned when a young girl asked if she could please pay her taxes on an article she had managed to get past the authorities a week earlier.
The young girl had returned from a trip to India, passing into Israel via the Jordan River border crossing without declaring a brand new Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone she had purchased. After a few days she began to feel sorry that she had not declared the item, and decided contact customs officials.
“I could hear total amazement in the voice of the customs official on the telephone when I called,” she said.
The local official transferred her call to the chief customs officer, Yigal Malka, who was deeply moved by the young girl’s regret over not paying the tax. “It is an extremely rare occurrence for someone to come back and pay the customs like this,” said Malka, who decided to forgive the girl’s debt, which would have come to about 500 shekels.
“I am just beginning my university studies, and every shekel is really important to me,” the girl explained, “but I am a Messianic Jew and knew that it is not God’s will to secretly avoid my taxes – so I decided to make things right.”
To her further surprise, customs officials contacted the mainstream Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot. They wanted others to hear something about “the good side of the Israeli people,” they said. The young Messianic girl agreed to be interviewed by the newspaper with the understanding that it was an opportunity to glorify God and emphasise that her behavior stemmed from the fact that she is a Jewish believer in Yeshua (Jesus).