The dividers of Israel
Among the countries of the OECD, Israel has the largest social gaps.
Until recently, we had been asking ourselves about this strange calm, and hoping that it came before the storm. But our hopes have been dashed: Israel is still the leading country in social gaps; it is number one among all the countries in the OECD.
Yet the calm has indeed been shattered, and the cries can be heard in the heavens. So who is it that cries out to us by night, whose sobbing do we hear?
It is the tycoons shedding tears of distress, as is the custom with crocodiles when they devour their prey. They fear that soon, their unswallowed food will be removed from their mouths and they will be prevented from chewing it.
Perhaps their sky-high earnings and profits will be capped. Perhaps the public will also enjoy some of the underground treasures they have been hoarding for themselves, in the form of royalties on gas and oil. Perhaps interconnection fees will be reduced and another cellular operator will get a permit, and then there will be more competition. Perhaps the power wielded by the monopolies will be weakened a bit, the concentration of the economy will be reduced and the destructive shadow of the pyramid-structured holding groups will be diminished. And perhaps mining companies will lose their eligibility for government grants.
At present, the tycoons have nothing to fear. It is true that many committees have been set up, but when a committee convenes, it is a sign that decisions are being avoided, delayed for generations. And in order not to raise the minimum wage, or not to reduce the maximum wage, no committee whatsoever was necessary: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu banged on the table, and that sufficed to thwart both these plots.
Still, the tycoons are concerned. The "families" are not used to a driving attack on their gluttonous leverage. What, ask the sons of Ofer and Tshuva and Dankner and Arison and Ben-Dov, has happened here all of a sudden?
Did we not sow wealth and power both? Did we not together, with the sweat of our brows, like pioneers, pave the highway between wealthy districts and poverty-stricken ones - the road that divides Israel in two? Did we not eat and drink delicacies at social events and appear as a unified group in the gossip columns? Did we not send Yaakov Neeman - flesh of our flesh - to the cabinet to be our faithful representative there? Did we not make generous donations to the ministers and Knesset members and cast our bread upon the waters? So why do we, the best of families, deserve this? Why are they holding a knife to our throats?
One must never take chances; it is best to start lobbying before the blow falls. For example, the media reported this week that Israel Chemicals is organizing a pressure campaign aimed at preventing the revocation of its eligibility for government grants. And mayors are reportedly telephoning ministers' bureaus in an effort to avert the evil decrees.
But even if the country's leaders go down on bended knee, even if they crawl on all fours, they will never find anything beneath the tables of the rich but bones and crumbs. Repeated studies have shown that Israel's wealthy make negligible donations to charity when compared to their colleagues in the West. Those who see all the charity fund-raisers, the gala events, the ceremonies and receptions in their honor may be moved by the generosity of our local philanthropists, but it is not so. It is true that the rich have many friends, but this is an altruistic friendship, purchased with a fraction of a percent of their enormous profits.
If only the poor of our country were able to fight for their bread like our tycoons fight for their butter, topped with a layer of caviar! For out of Zion will go forth in disgrace the Torah of inequality.