Journalists waited for the opportunity with bated breath. They desperately wanted to prove they aren't "bleeding heart liberals" but "socially aware and good Jews." So the moment the Shinui ministers were fired, the press launched a smear campaign against the terrible secular party.
They will now welcome with glee a carbon copy of the first Sharon government - Likud-Labor-Shas - the one that brought upon us two terrible years of crises: unprecedented economic lows, mushrooming unemployment, a collapsing stock exchange, a withering shekel and evaporating investment. And our security situation was in the pits as well. Terror attacks multiplied until it was dangerous to step out of the house and our status in the international arena was lower than low.
The second Sharon government, Likud-Shinui-NRP, saved the day. Economic growth reappeared, unemployment headed downward, the shekel showed some muscle and inflation is negligible. The security situation also improved. Terror decreased and the disengagement plan instilled a little hope in the stock exchange.
None of those achievements would have happened without Shinui. The disengagement passed the cabinet because of Shinui, as did free market economic policy. Shinui supported privatization, economic reform, cutting the inflated budget, cutting payments to yeshiva students, getting people back to work, lowering taxes, bailing out the pension funds and bringing competition to the ports.
If Shas had been in the coalition, none of the reforms would have passed, no positive change would have happened with Egypt or the Palestinians, and the economy would have kept on sinking.
But the press misses Shas. They want a party that will foil disengagement, torpedo reform, boost back stipends to large ultra-Orthodox families, reinstate grants and budgets to yeshiva students, make it a better financial move to live at state expense than to work, restore the Dark Ages at the Interior Ministry - making any "goy" unacceptable and any "foreigner" an enemy. And any local government head who wants a budget will have to start by appointing cronies to jobs and building ritual baths. Soldiers (non-Jews) who risk their lives defending the state won't get citizenship, because it is more important "to spend one's life learning Torah."
Eli Yishai wants to be Interior Minister. So does Yisrael Katz. They both know why. The past two years have been very tough on Likud party wheeler-dealer Uzi Cohen and his buddies. You just couldn't make "deals" with Avraham Poraz: not appointments, not budgets for cronies, not special arrangements for friends and party activists.
The local government rehabilitation plan was also insufferable. It made 200 deputy mayors redundant, implemented 11 mergers of municipalities and prohibited budget overruns - which was too much for Uzi Cohen, Eli Yishai and Yisrael Katz.
Likud and Shas activists want to forget this two-year drought. They don't really care if the ministry is headed by Yisrael Katz or Eli Yishai. Either way, we'll go back in time 100 years.
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