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September 3, 2015 / 19 Elul, 5775
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Who Needs ‘Open Skies’?

This is a Marie Antoinette government whose theme is, "Let them eat cake."
free skies el al

Photo Credit: Asher Schwartz

My husband is one of those whose trip abroad this week may not happen.  Israel’s new Finance Minister Yair Lapid campaigned to help those he calls “middle class,” those making, like his “Riki Cohen family,” almost five times minimum wage and just over double average wage for a couple.

Riki Cohen, a widow from Hadera, earns NIS 4,500 ($1,234) a month. She can only dream of earning NIS 20,000 ($5,485) a month, like the fictitious family of “Mrs. Riki Cohen,” mentioned by Finance Minister Yair Lapid in his controversial Facebook post.

In his post, Lapid also said the ‘Cohen family’ travels abroad once every two years. “Is he serious? I’ve never been abroad,” the real Riki Cohen told Ynet Tuesday. (YNET)

Yair Lapid’s concept of a “middle-class salary” is upper class, according to the real financial statistics here in Israel, especially considering that Riki Cohen’s family can afford to travel abroad every two years.  Lapid doesn’t consider that frequent enough and in one of this new government’s first big moves is to open Israeli skies to the very competitive airfares.

In response, the Israeli airlines, including El Al are striking.  My husband, not being among the privileged, sophisticated frequent travelers didn’t realize that he should have cancelled his El Al ticket and quickly bought one from a different airline. Reports are that the airport will start shutting down tomorrow.  This is not good for Israel.

Considering that another of Lapid’s, and no doubt we should remember that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu must certainly approve these moves,  budget changes is cutting child allowances which seriously affects the lower and true middle class families.

Those spending cuts include NIS 4b.-5b. from the civil service, NIS 3b.-4b. from defense, with an equal amount from child allotments and NIS 2b.-4b. from infrastructure spending.

Yet a representative for Lapid would disclose only that the budgetary framework includes new taxes on affluent goods such as luxury apartments and cars.

So, I guess we can conclude from those budget changes that Lapid puts children in the same unnecessary or optional category as luxury cars.  Does he expect Israelis to somehow down-size their families by “deleting” some of their children?

It seems pretty obvious that this is a Marie Antoinette  government whose theme is: “Let them eat cake.”

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About the Author: Batya Medad blogs at Shiloh Musings.

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