Israel's Social Protest Leader Is Now Her Own Worst Enemy

Daphni Leef is unmoved about whether the government takes in less tax money, the budget deficit grows, the public debt soars and we find ourselves in the situation of Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland.

Daphni Leef has become her own biggest enemy. She has become intoxicated with power. You can criticize the prime minister and demand that he increase social spending, but you can't humiliate him in public, address him arrogantly and treat him as if he were the lowliest of officials.

At Leef's press conference this week before tomorrow night's demonstration, she didn't hesitate to present Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with ultimatums; for example: "This is the last time I am addressing you directly." How scary. If Leef roars, who will not tremble? She also demanded that he reverse economic policy completely so it will suit the caprices of her and her colleagues. She, after all, has the experience and knowledge and he's merely prime minister: "We have no intention of compromising .... Your time is running out .... The keys to the country must be in our hands."

If Leef believes the keys to the country must be in her hands, let her do us the honor of running against Netanyahu in the next elections and defeating him. We are, after all, still living in a representative democracy. At the press conference Leef spoke about the state's obligation to provide all its citizens (for free, of course ) excellent health care, a worthy education, fair housing, art and culture - and also a nice salary and respectable pension because these "are not luxuries but rather basic things."

These basic things are a long list of demands that cost tens of billions annually. For example: increasing the education budget by 30 percent; free childcare and education from the age of 6 months to a bachelor's degree; decreasing class size to 21; increasing the health budget by NIS 10 billion; additional job slots and beds in the hospitals; free nursing and dental care; reinstating the subsidy on basic food products; extending maternity leave to six months with full pay; raising the minimum wage to 60 percent of the average wage; and so we don't get tired, there's also a demand to shorten the work week and increase the number of vacation days.

Let there be no mistake: These are just a few of the demands where Leef is not willing to compromise. Either the whole package right away or Netanyahu goes home.

It's true that it's quite attractive to live in a utopian state where we'll get all these gifts for free, but didn't they already try that model in the Soviet Union until it collapsed? And how will it all be funded? Leef prefers not to talk about this tiny problem, and there is only one solution: raising the tax burden on everyone who works and earns a living. We will need to pay extremely high taxes, the highest in the world, so we can pay for the generous benefits to the public.

It's already clear that the plan isn't tenable. No one, after all, will agree to pay huge taxes that won't even be enough. Some people will avoid paying, some will evade and some will move abroad so that only lip service about taxes will remain. But there's much more to come. A sharp rise in taxes will deliver a mortal blow to growth and employment, and the economy will fall into a recession and unemployment. The more the government tries to reap taxes from those who work, the more the business sector will suffer. Investments will cease, growth will shrivel and unemployment will climb.

As a result, the government will take in less tax money and less revenue, the budget deficit will grow, the public debt will soar, the credit rating organizations will lower our rating and we will quickly find ourselves in the situation of Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland. Suddenly, instead of talking about expansion, we will be talking about cuts and layoffs, exactly what's happening in Europe.

But Leef is unmoved by such trivia. She's sitting on the deck of the Titanic, seeing the huge iceberg ahead of her but continuing to demand that the waiters serve all the passengers a fine dinner and glass of wine. Leef is refusing to understand that her ship is about to hit the iceberg and sink to the depths.