Housing Protesters - Tali Mayer - 26072011
Protesters blocking a main Tel Aviv road opposite the Azrieli mall. Photo by Tali Mayer
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The free market has wreaked havoc. So the free market must go, and make room for a little more state and welfare.

The macro economy is doing just fine, but the micro economy isn't doing well at all - because man is a microbe, which can be seen only with a microscope. Until now, government officials saw only numbers. But from now on, they have no choice: They have to count people as well.

The prime minister is pleading with his ministers to "get under the stretcher" and carry some of the weight. For a moment it seemed Benjamin Netanyahu himself was the patient who should be carried from his Jerusalem residence to his Caesarea villa. This is not a stretcher, it's a palanquin, in which he has been sitting for years.

When people keep reminding us that real-estate prices haven't just soared recently, but for the past 10 years, they forget to mention that most of those years were Netanyahu's. They are imprinted with his privatization mania, first as an omnipotent finance minister, then as an impotent prime minister.

This mania promised the world but delivered a world of distress. So few benefited from it, so many paid the price. And now their endurance has snapped.

One struggle - also a just one - ended 15 years ago with a few pizzas. Sara Netanyahu ordered take-away and chalked it up to expenses, and the hunger-striking students succumbed to temptation.

This time, the protesters must be more careful, because this pizza is not fit for human consumption. Don't touch it. You must not eat what they give out, only what you take.

Minister Moshe Kahlon was sent to the television studios over the weekend to promise solutions "not in weeks or days, but in hours." At that moment the countdown started; the eye has remained glued to the clock.

The prime minister himself - attentive as usual to the public's sentiments - promised "surprises" soon. Perhaps Netanyahu will publish his detailed plan for affordable housing as early as today, even though yesterday, he was still begging his ministers for "ideas."

So this is the time to warn of what is to come.

The first warning is to the environmentalists, many of whom are actively participating in the tent protest. The national housing committees Netanyahu is proposing will revoke the rules and principles that ensure responsible, sustainable development and cause irrevocable damage. Netanyahu's supertanker will lay waste to every part of the country.

Israel will become a no-man's land once it is flooded with real estate. Not even the Zionist leaders of yore, Hankin and Ruppin and Ussishkin, would be able to redeem this land, nor will the middle class, which is now fighting to make this status one that offers a dignified living.

The real estate sharks, in their insatiable greed, will gobble up more open areas. They will be the first to take over another juicy chunk of state lands. Thus they will steal even the poor man's plot, and this bargain will cost us dearly.

The second warning is to the young couples and students. You will have some crumbs thrown at you in the next few days, and not only pizza crumbs. But when you crawl under the table to pick them up, you'll find the yeshiva students have beat you to it again. Because you don't have eight children, not even four. So the surprises are not meant for you and your ilk; please go to the end of the line.

In the absence of equal criteria, as opposed to criteria designed exclusively for large families, Netanyahu's paper is not worthy of being called a "plan."

Public construction of apartments for sale and rental is also essential. Why should we show how it works in developed countries when we have examples right here? It's no accident that there has been no trace of the protest beyond the Green Line. When 50 percent of public building over the past decade has been in the West Bank, and only 3 percent in the center of the country, the settlers have no cause for anger. Nor do they need any tents.

It is also no coincidence that all the rightist columnists have joined forces to ridicule the protesters and mock them. They call them those pampered people from Rothschild Boulevard, little rich kids who decided to raise a hue and cry.

Now, after two weeks of struggle, it is imperative to read the small print in Netanyahu's plan carefully, and even more so the large, highlighted print. We must make sure it doesn't turn out, for the umpteenth time, that the road to the lost socialist paradise is paved with bad neoliberal intentions.