the soclaiist paradise is a paradise that never was - Comment - Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper
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    • zionist forever
    • 26.07.11 | 06:53 (IDT)

    When Israel was run by socialist governments who believed it was down to the state to take responsibility for everything Israel was no paradise. They didn't build luxury apartment buildings because nobody could afford to live in them bacause back then everybody was alot poorer because the people who had money were taxed so heavily that they were not all that much better off when it came to spending power than people on lower incomes. Israel was basically a country where nobody had any serious money except for the odd very rich olleh who kept the bulk of their assets abroad so they didn't loose all their money in high taxes. The socialist paradise was a mess. About a decade ago we really started to embrace the free market for the first time and overnight things changed. We sold off failing government owned companies like ELAL, IMI, IAI, Bezeq etc and today some of those companies are doing well for themselves without government money.When Bezeq was a government monopoly having a private telephone was a status symbol, you could be on a waiting list for years. It looked like the internet was going to bypass Israel the only access to it the masses would have would be through internet coffee shops. Then Bezeq lost its monopoly on phone services and suddenly everybody had a phone and the internet spread from the coffee shops to the homes. All this because we abandoned our socialist roots and embraced the free market. In the housing sector the demand is for luxury new builds because thats where the money. Whilst the buyers might not be ordinary Israel's on an average income the things are selling and making the developers millions which is what they are in the business to do, not be men of compassion who will put the needs of ordinary people before the needs of their bank accounts. Settlements are not to blame because they are not being invested in at the expense of the cities they are a different issue entirely. No individual government is to blame. Possibly the thing thats most to blame is Israeli society itself. Israel has a ghetto mentality and society is divided into groups and the different groups live in different places. The arabs are mostly in the north, the religious are in the settlements and Jerusalem whilst the seculars they belong on the coast. So the result is everybody is concentrated in one place so it drives up property prices. If we made better use of the rest of the country it would bring prices down nationwide. For decades now governments on the left and right have talked about Judaizing the Galilee and making the Negev bloom. Right now there is some investment in the Negev but that will take time but there are no attempts to Judaize the Galilee which is something that should be done in the long term because anything this government does as a reaction to the current protests will be a reactionary jump to make it look like the government has all the answers and is going to solve the problem but in reality no government can solve the problem short term. In the case of Tel Aviv even if we did all live in different parts of the country it wouldn't solve the lack of affordability problem which Tel Aviv has because its a big city and it faces the same problems as other cities like London and New York do. In the UK & US people are not all crammed into one part of the country the way they do in Israel but the big city will always be an attraction to some people and cities have always had problems whereby there are some areas which only the rich can afford to live in and ordinary people must live further out in the suburbs where rents are cheaper. i development and it would naturally cause property prices to fall because people are not all wanting to live in one small part of the country. Tel Aviv itself is not experiencing anything that any other big city around the world like London does whereby the central areas where ordinary people once lived gets gradually more and more expensive until its only the rich who can live there and everybody else has to move further out into the suburbs. Right now the people know there is a problem but nobody has any real solutions so they are protesting and saying Bibi solve this problem for us but in reality there is no solution to lack of afordable housing in places like Tel Aviv and the solution to the housing problem long term means getting seculars off the coast and into the Galilee and Negev. Going back to the days of Yossi's socialist utopia where government is in charge rather than the free market would be a mistake the country couldn't afford in the past and certainly cannot afford in the 21st century where there is a global economy and companies have much more choices on where to invest.. This is not the arab spring where we can get rid of the dictator who has been running the country single handedly for decades and start with a fresh plate this is a specific problem which changing governments will not solve and its a problem which will take years to solve not months. Any long term solution needs to be based on a coalition of government, developers, big business, the municipalities and of course the people themselves .. the housing problem needs to be viewed as a long term national project rather than a political issue. In Tel Aviv a good start might be to redevelop the run down neighborhoods, work with the private sector to do up the old buildings, make these areas desirable but at the same time do as much as possible to keep prices down and improve transport links to make commuting easier ( Israeli's are going to have to accept long commutes eventually just as they did in the rest of the western world ). Sorry Yossi but the socialist paradise is gone for good and it would have never solved the housing problem anyway.

    from the article: A warning to the tent-dwellers before Netanyahu presents his housing plan
    First published 01:50 26.07.11 | Last updated 01:50 26.07.11
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