All in the Family / Here's (Some Of) the Money

When asking 'Where's the money?' one place we should look at is the excessive profits earned by a close associate of prime ministers.

In his first column since declaring his Knesset candidacy, Yair Lapid turned "Where's the money?" into an election slogan. The country's future lies in that simple question, wrote Lapid in Yedioth Ahronoth on Friday.

Lapid asked why the people who are producing, paying taxes, meeting obligations, serving in the reserves and maintaining the country on their backs aren't seeing any money. "It's our money, and the time has come for it be invested in us," he wrote.

It's a great question. Lapid may have learned it from the leaders of the social protest who failed to ask it. The protesters may have called for new priorities, but they failed to understand that this means that some people must lose out. Lapid, on the other hand, spots the money in three places - settlements (that "look like Switzerland" ), budgets for the ultra-Orthodox (who "need to learn core subjects and work" ) and wasteful government entities (that "don't give good service" ).

But he also addresses his question to the public sector and the tycoons.

On Sunday, it turned out that one of the country's biggest tycoons, Mozi Wertheim, who up until last Friday had been signing Lapid's large paychecks at Channel 2, is passing his empire down to his children.

Wertheim made billions through hard work, but the story isn't fairytale perfect. The real story is that Coca-Cola Israel has been a monopoly for 40 years. Wertheim, a minority shareholder, took control of the company a decade ago after its former controlling shareholder, Abraham Feinberg, died, using the company's monopoly profits for the buyout. These massive profits enabled him to create a food empire with the regulator's blessing. Meanwhile, he also bought power and influence, acquiring shares in a bank (Mizrahi-Tefahot ) and a TV station (Channel 2 franchisee Keshet ).

Wertheim's business empire was made possible because Coca-Cola's customers paid too much for their drinks. When asking "Where's the money?" one place we should look at is the excessive profits earned by a close associate of prime ministers.