web analytics
April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



In Israel, Economic Concerns Mount – But Who Will Benefit Politically?


Wagner-Protest-021712

Share Button

JERUSALEM – “It’s the economy stupid” was how American political strategist James Carville once summed up the defining issue in U.S. presidential elections. But in Israel, besieged by enemy nations and locked into an ongoing conflict with the Palestinians, security has traditionally trumped all other political agendas. Until now.

In part because of a sharp decrease in West Bank terrorism and the relative quiet in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, Israelis have begun to turn their attention from security concerns to economic ones. Some believe this may help Labor and Meretz, parties that have failed to garner wide support for their dovish positions on security matters but may have more appeal when it comes to socioeconomic issues.

“This is the first time since I began writing 23 years ago that there is a chance this election will not be about hawks and doves but about social justice and how the fiscal budget should be split up,” said Daniel Ben-Simon, a former journalist and parliamentarian from the Labor Party.

His party head, Shelly Yachimovich, has been articulating a social democratic economic policy that aspires to promote more social justice and equality and less “piggish capitalism.”

Demonstrations last summer that protested exorbitant housing prices, high costs for basic necessities and growing income inequality managed to mobilize an unprecedented number of Israelis. Called the J14 Movement (after the July 14 date it began), the protest drew more than 400,000 Israelis into the streets.

“The J14 movement was and is a crucial moment where the people in this country started to look within and think about themselves as individuals,” said Daphni Leef, who sparked the protest through a Facebook campaign. “They rejected the concept, ‘as long as you are alive don’t complain.’ ”

The demonstrations continue to have an impact. It was largely due to an increased sensitivity to social justice that the Histradrut labor federation, Israel’s largest workers’ union with strong ties to the Labor Party, succeeded in launching a strike last week to champion the rights of outsourced, temporary, or contracted workers. For years the workers have suffered from low wages, a lack of job security and no pension benefits. Unlike past strikes, there was wide public support for the Histadrut’s battle for contracted workers.

“We enjoyed a lot of backing – on Facebook, on the streets, in the news media,” Histadrut spokeswoman Dafna Cohen said of the five-day work stoppage, which ended Sunday with contract workers receiving a minimum monthly wage and other benefits. “People who had their flights delayed, could not conduct transactions at the bank or suffered from the strike in other ways showed a lot of empathy and solidarity with us. It was heartwarming.”

Still, a military conflagration – such as an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities – would be an instant game-changer. A precedent exists in the run-up to the 2009 national elections when Meretz, aware that its dovish positions on security and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict were unpopular, pushed a social-democratic platform.

But then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert launched Operation Cast Lead in an effort to stop the rocket-fire and mortar shells from Hamas-controlled Gaza. The 22-day military operation pushed security issues to the forefront and rendered Meretz’s socioeconomic platform irrelevant. Meretz ended up with just three Knesset seats, down from five.

Even if socioeconomic issues become a central issue in the upcoming elections, it is not clear that parties such as Labor or Meretz will be its beneficiaries. Lior Chorev, a political strategist from the centrist Kadima Party, predicted that the renewed interest in socioeconomic issues would not necessarily strengthen Labor and Meretz.

“Like Occupy Wall Street, this summer’s protesters were naive in the sense that they did not offer any specific solutions,” Chorev said. “They were just a bunch of people – many of them professionals – who do not want to change the social order, just make life a little better for themselves. Nobody wants to go back to socialism.”

Also, despite all the criticism, the Israeli economy under Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government appears remarkably healthy. Unemployment is below 6 percent, compared to slightly above 8 percent in the United States and 10 percent in the European Union. Israel’s GDP grew 4.8 percent in 2011 and the Bank of Israel is predicting another 2.8 percent gain in 2012.

And the Netanyahu government has been responsive to public concern about the economy. Even before the protests, Netanyahu instituted reforms aimed at bringing down the cost of housing. The National Housing Committee Law, which was passed by the Knesset in August, will streamline the process of allocating and zoning land for housing and provide financial aid to families buying or renting homes.

Netanyahu also established a committee to consider ways of combating the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few dozen tycoons. And in the wake of the protests, the Trajtenberg Committee was established and has presented a number of suggestions to help the middle class, the centerpiece of which was free preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds.

The response has been so extensive that some are now concerned that a populist push on social issues might lead to the adoption of imprudent economic policies.

“There is a danger that the very positive awakening of the Israeli consumer and worker to the fact that they are being so exploited by a few oligarchs will be taken advantage of by the social lobby and other leftist groups to institute high taxes on the middle class – the most productive classes of society,” said Daniel Doron, director of the Israel Center for Social and Economic Progress.

(JTA)

Share Button

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “In Israel, Economic Concerns Mount – But Who Will Benefit Politically?”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
FBI Wanted poster for Osama bin Laden
Pakistan Library Renamed to Honor bin Laden
Latest Indepth Stories
matza

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

Masked Palestinian Authority Arabs hurl blocks at Israel Police during and after "worship" at Temple Mount mosque. (archive photo)

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

Haredim riot after draft-dodger is arrested.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

Bitton-041814

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

More Articles from Mati Wagner
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz hold a joint press conference at the Knesset Tuesday after announcing a surprise agreement to form a coalition government.

JERUSALEM – Israelis went to sleep Monday night expecting early elections in September for the 19th Knesset. They woke up to the news that elections would take place as planned in October 2013.

Judge Asher Grunis, new president of Israel's Supreme Court, is congradulated by Prime Minister Netanyahu at inauguration ceremony on Tuesday.

The Supreme Court’s interventionist approach was pioneered by Aharon Barak, who served as the court’s president from 1995 till 2006. Dorit Beinisch, who is retiring from the court this week after serving as president since her mentor’s retirement, upheld the tradition of judicial activism, keeping the court at the center of Israeli public debate and making it a lightning rod for Orthodox and right-wing critics. That could change as Beinisch is replaced by Asher Grunis, a conservative justice who has made a name for himself as a supporter of judicial restraint.

Demonstrations last summer that protested exorbitant housing prices, high costs for basic necessities and growing income inequality managed to mobilize an unprecedented number of Israelis. Still, even if socioeconomic issues become a central issue in the upcoming elections, it is not clear that parties such as Labor or Meretz will be its beneficiaries.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/in-israel-economic-concerns-mount-but-who-will-benefit-politically/2012/02/15/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: