The spokespeople of the Tel Aviv tent protest city are insisting, in the spirit of the time and place, on dissociating their protest from "politics." In this way, they are supposedly trying to say they are not - heaven forbid - members of the left who are "exploiting" their right to protest for the sake of promoting a political agenda, but rather people from all walks of life who are not able to finish the month without getting into debt.
There is no need to clarify what PR logic lies behind this inexperienced claim, but there is definitely a need to show once again how removed it is from reality. That is because the claim "We are not political" keeps repeating itself, whether we are referring to students who are demonstrating about tuition fees; greens who are protesting against harm to open spaces; or social workers who are fighting for their salaries. One can only wonder, therefore, whether there are still any protests at all in this country that are perhaps just a little bit political.
The frequency with which this claim is made is, first and foremost, an indication of just how shallow and shrunken the term "politics" now is in Israeli public discourse - so that, a priori, it blocks any attempt to hold an integrative discussion about various phenomena and ills that take place at the same time. After all, one does not need a doctorate in political science in order to understand that there are numerous connections between foreign policy and internal policy.
In the discussion over the high cost of housing in Israel, from time to time the question arises whether the government makes possible, or initiates, sufficient construction to satisfy the demands in various areas. In the government yearbook - which is published annually by the Central Bureau of Statistics - there is a paragraph that sums up the number of housing units whose construction was begun every year in every one of the regions inside Israel, as well as the "Judea and Samaria" region (in other words, the settlements ).
An examination of the data during the period between 1994 and 2009 throws light on some of the reasons that have led to the current crisis in housing prices. Almost half - 48.4 percent! - of construction work in the settlements over these years was the result of government initiatives. The average government construction for the entire country (including construction on the settlements that pulled the national average up ) was only one fifth - 20.7 percent - of all building work in those years.
A detailed comparison of the figures for public settlement building with the peripheral regions likewise shows that neither in the south nor the north were the percentages of construction close to the rates that were registered in the settlements.
To put it simply, in order to make a clear political statement six governments preferred to encourage Israelis to go and live on settlements rather than in the periphery of the country. This fact had a critical effect on the level of supply in various regions, and therefore on the prices of real estate in these regions.
This data once again reveals the efforts that were made by all the governments of Israel to render the Oslo accords devoid of meaning, while creating irreversible "facts" in the territories. But at the same time, they reveal one of the central tools at the disposal of a government that is determined to bring down the price of housing in a certain area that it wishes to promote, while neglecting the other regions.
And for the information of the tent dwellers on Rothschild Boulevard: There is one region in which, during all these years, only three percent of the construction that took place in its precincts was public, while in the years 2006 to 2009 not even one public housing unit was built - the Tel Aviv region. Now you understand why they demand NIS 3,000 from you for a room in Tel Aviv. Friends, these statistics are the expression of Israeli politics in recent decades. We shall all eat its spoiled fruit for many years to come.
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