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Issues of the Day The Resumption of Israel's Social Protests

Two items of acute interest intersected today at  the start of the Israeli work week.

One of the items is the resumption of the social protest movement last night. According to Ynet News, 12,000 citizens took to the streets in Tel Aviv and elsewhere to demonstrate against new government policies based on tax increases and the reduction of services and subsidies.

The middle class will absorb the brunt of the austerity measures that are being put forward to fix the economic damage incurred by Prime Minister Netanyahu previous government, including widening gaps between the rich and the rest of the population.


Cruelly, neither the economic elite and the major corporations that control much of Israeli economy, nor the big unions whose privileged status is protected by the Histradrut Labor Federation to the detriment of the rest of the working population, have been touched by the budget cuts and other policies proposed by Finance Minister Yair Lapid. The middle class, the sector of the population that swept Lapid into office based on his promise to improve their economic status and equalize the national burden, feel  betrayed by the policies he has formulated to plug the huge deficit incurred by the previous Netanyahu government.


Turnabout in Political Context


The situation is all the uglier because Lapid’s turnabout from his campaign promises is incomprehensible unless one views his actions in the context of his professed aspiration to replace the prime minister in his post within two years. See veteran Haaretz’s columnist Ari Shavit’s analysis of Lapid’s motivations in an incisive piece printed in the weekend edition of the newspaper.


There is little evidence that the much anticipated reform expected as a result of the January 2013 elections is in the works. The social protests seem set to begin anew and possibly spread. It appears unlikely that the expressions of discontent will stop until there is meaningful change aimed at improving the lot of the majority of Israelis rather than that of the government’s elite patrons.

Sara and Bibi’s Five Hour Bed: $127,000 in Taxpayers Money


The second related item of interest that will likely add fire to the social protests was widely covered in the Israeli press this morning: The prime minister’s bureau mandated that the El Al jet Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu were flying to attend  the funeral of the late British premier Margaret Thatcher last month be outfitted with a double bed at a cost $127,000 for a five hour flight to the British capital.     

While Israeli working people are being asked to tighten their belt in order to pay for his previous government’s follies, Mr. Netanyahu is either hopelessly oblivious to or incorrigibly contemptuous of public resentment concerning his policies.


Against this backdrop, I believe that the social protests against the government will persist indefinitely and will very likely grow in response to further  injury and insult inflicted on Israel’s citizen’s. 

© Yosef Gotlieb, . All rights reserved