If it looks like a deception...
The leaders of last summer's social protest have learned an important lesson: you can't be nice to everyone when you want to achieve something.
When will those two good people, social protest leaders Daphni Leef and Itzik Shmuli, wake up and understand they are being deceived? When will they realize they are in a head-to-head battle with Shas ministers Eli Yishai and Ariel Atias? When will they grasp that the state's resources are limited and it is impossible to be good to everyone?
When will Shmuli stop using the Hebrew phrase "families blessed with children" and return to the correct term, "large families?" Doesn't he grasp that the minute he says "blessed with children," he is shooting himself in the foot? And when will both of them grasp that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz aren't taking them into account at all?
At the end of this week's cabinet session, Netanyahu made it clear whom he is really looking out for. Netanyahu announced with great pomp that the cabinet's approval of the housing reforms proposed by the Trajtenberg Committee is a great revolution: It will both increase the supply of apartments and "distribute apartments to young couples, families and those who need [them] in an optimal way." But what he really did was give the subsidized apartments to Shas' ultra-Orthodox constituents.
True, the cabinet adopted a few recommendations that might increase the apartment supply. But it sacrificed the Trajtenberg Committee's central recommendation on the coalition's altar.
The committee ruled that the state must "give priority to people who, although they have exhausted their earning potential, do not make enough money to afford housing." This criterion promotes social justice, the committee said, because it creates a correlation between one's contribution to the state and what one receives from it. In the committee's words, "working people, who contribute their time and energy to the state, must be given priority."
The criterion of exhausting one's earning potential does not require people to work. But it does require them to look for work actively, unless they are sick or disabled. Yet Netanyahu cynically smashed the principle of "give and you shall receive." He did the exact opposite, by allowing parasites who don't work and wouldn't dream of looking for work to continue sucking at the secular public's teat.
Let me make myself clear: Not working is an anti-Jewish custom that was invented only in Israel. It does not exist in Brooklyn or Paris, because Jews always saw labor as a moral duty - see Maimonides. But Yishai and Atias are making a mockery of Maimonides as well.
Netanyahu and Steinitz gave in to Yishai and Atias because Shas provides them with a coalition majority. So they favored the ultra-Orthodox over the secular, hard-working, tax-paying middle class, which serves in the army and does reserve duty. They favored the non-Zionists over the Zionists.
In order to continue the deception, Atias changed the "number of children" criterion to the number of years of marriage. He stipulated that a young couple will receive seven points for every year of marriage (up to a maximum of 70 points ). But this gives a clear advantage to the ultra-Orthodox, who get married very young (aged 18 or 19 ).
In contrast, military service credits a couple with at most 30 points (15 for the husband's service, five for reserve service and 10 for the woman's service ). This makes it clear why the ultra-Orthodox will continue receiving most of the subsidized apartments.
But to twist the knife even deeper in the secular public's back, Netanyahu adopted the fiction that whoever spends a few hours a day, for one year, doing "national service" should receive the same number of points (30 ) as those who risked life and limb doing three years of military service. This is the new Zionism, as per the Netanyahu school of thought.
Perhaps salvation will come from Yisrael Beiteinu and its chairman, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. "Our priority is the middle class," Lieberman declared. "That's the most deprived minority, and we demand that the earning potential criterion be part of the criteria for affordable housing."
Will he insist on this, or give it up in exchange for a few hundreds of millions more for his constituents, Russian-speaking immigrants? We will soon find out.
In any case, Leef and Shmuli have learned an important lesson. You can't be nice to everyone when you want to achieve something. The public has also learned something. If it looks like a deception, smells like a deception and sounds like a deception - it is indeed a deception.
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