In our jungle
More than ever, we are building a privatization fence here that protects the few and leaves the many, including the middle class, vulnerable.
An argument broke out last week between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and MK Ophir Pines-Paz (Labor) over whether Anne Frank would have been eligible for government benefits allotted to Holocaust survivors. There is no doubt that the situation is a particularly complicated, borderline case - and, as is the norm in such instances, it is clear that it should go before an authorized Finance Ministry appeals committee.
But that story is already behind us. Many days - that is, a week - have passed since that topic was discussed. Here in Israel, there is no injustice that does not have its week, its day or at least its hour, and Anne's hour has passed. We apologize.
If so, who did we have this week? As the new school year is about to begin, the students' and parents' turn has arrived. First come the children of Sderot, who will not go to school on Sunday without the defense minister's personal guarantee of their safety. The parents of special-needs children are also making their voices heard; they protested to the education minister over the delay in integrating those children into the mainstream education system. Young women at risk complained about budget cuts totaling a few hundred thousand shekels that will keep them from serving in the Israel Defense Forces. A rally was held in Rabin Square that kept silent about the cries of an estimated one million hungry children.
That is what we had this week. And those who have not yet demanded satisfaction will do so next week, or in two weeks, though not later than the date on which the Knesset approves the state budget.
Israel's weak are not uniting; instead, they are unintentionally fighting among themselves. Their behavior is reminiscent of starved animals who are fed crumbs by amused visitors on safari to the flourishing jungle (6.6 percent growth in the last quarter). And who are these tourists if not those sitting at the head of the table, eating and drinking and throwing the bones on the floor? And the starved ones snatch the food out of each other's mouths, because what is given to a survivor is taken from a senior citizen, and what is given to a senior citizen is taken from a child or a disabled person.
There is no difference between Ehud Olmert, Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu: It is the same table, the same friends and donors, the same cigars.
There is no other Western country in which 19 families control more than half the business-sector product, which constitutes the lion's share of the gross domestic product; in which their income comes to NIS 248 billion, which is 88 percent of the state budget; in which they are worth 54 percent of the entire business sector product. There is no other country in which the average wage costs of a senior executive in a publicly traded company comes to NIS 7.67 million a year, or NIS 639,000 a month - 48 times the wage costs of someone earning the minimum wage and 22 times those of someone earning the average wage. Was Sodom also accepted as a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development?
Over the last few weeks, there have been bitter complaints about the decreasing percentage of people doing military service. When the defense minister complains, who would not be concerned? But the state itself refuses to be drafted and leaves its casualties in the field. This is a country that serves only one Moloch: Only for the sake of security are even the forlorn prepared to hand over their golden nose rings, while the high priests anoint their skin with oil and sprinkle perfume and holy water on their flock.
This, idiots, is the financial approach that is destroying everything good in this country: divide and conquer, privatize and conquer, privatize the material and the spiritual. More than ever, we are building a privatization fence here that protects the few and leaves the many, including the middle class, vulnerable. Even in England, people are already regretting the far-reaching consequences of privatization, and not just in England - just not here. Here they will continue throwing many very dry bones, and these bones shall not live.