Israel's Social Security Is as Important as Its Military Might, Economic Panel Says

Following the submission of final report of the committee on socioeconomic change, panel chairman Trajtenberg says Israel's economic growth must better translate itself into a quality of life for its citizens.

Israel's economic growth is not fairly distributed to all of its citizens, Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, the head of a governmental committee on socioeconomic change said on Monday, adding that despite the many security threats Israel was facing, the social security of its citizens was as important as its military might.

Earlier Monday, Prof. Trajtenberg submitted the final findings of the panel he headed, which stipulated a list of economic measures to be taken at a combined cost of NIS30 billion.

Trajtenberg - Tomer Appelbaum - 26092011
Tomer Appelbaum

The main points in the Trajtenberg Committee's report were: Public education that begins at the age of 3, instead of the current law which begins public education at 5; a significant cut in Israel's defense budget; raised taxes on both the wealthy as well as on corporations; a better implementation of labor laws; housing reforms; and extensive anti-trust regulations.

Speaking to reporters, Prof. Trajtenberg indicated later Monday that a defense budget cut would be necessary in order to advance these reforms, adding that it was "not easy to say that, especially considering the threats that still surround Israel."

"However, Israel's social security is as important as its physical security," he added, saying that the report he helped author was a step toward "finding a new balance between those two factors.

Trajtenberg said his committee was formed in an attempt to find answers to "an authentic popular protest which had been sweeping across Israel," adding that the panel, first and foremost, attempted to pinpoint the sources of that protest.

The three sources identified by the panel, according to Trajtenberg, were "a real, painful economic difficulty experienced by the backbone of Israeli society, working families, educated, with children who are not making ends meat

Another factor in a newfound sense of social discontent, the head of the committee on socioeconomic change said, was "a deep sense of injustice," what that "has to do with the growing inequality in Israel" between the rich and the poor.

The third element, Trajtenberg indicated, was a sense of estrangement by Israel's citizens, "an estrangement of the ordinary citizen from state institutions, a sense that the powers that be do not listen to him, and that the political system had severed itself from him."

To battle these issues, Trajtenberg urged a better equivalence between law abiding and responsible fiscal behavior and the possible reward, as well as a stress on "equal opportunities."

"There are vast differences at the very starting point between the possibilities available to each and every one of us. We, as a society, must work toward an equality of opportunity," Trajtenberg said.