A Dreamy Trip to Greece for Israel's Socialists

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Greece's Communist Party supporters march during a rally in Athens against a new loan agreement with creditors which would lead to further austerity on June 26, 2015.Credit: AFP

I have a dream. In my dream, I guide tours to Greece: to Athens, Piraeus, Meteora and Saloniki. Not bad. What a beautiful country.

The group I guide will be composed of several MKs: Dov Khenin, Zehava Galon, Yossi Yonah and Shelly Yacimovich. These are MKs who were wildly enthusiastic when socialist Alexis Tsipras won the election in Greece in January. Finally the neo-socialists have returned to center stage, they said; now Greece will show the world how much better socialism is than this archaic nonsense of a market economy, private enterprise and competition.

The moment we land in Athens we (the group and I) will go to observe the success of the socialist system as it is being realized in the long lines of sad Greek pensioners, who are standing under the burning sun in order to withdraw a small part of the budgetary pension that they were supposed to receive from the government at the beginning of the month. The goodhearted Tsipras allotted them only 120 euros.

Then, we will go to observe the even longer lines at the ATMs. That’s where the rest of the inhabitants of Greece are standing. They are permitted to withdraw 60 euros a day and they need more, which is causing increasing violence.

Afterwards, we will interview several tourists who got stuck without cash when their credit cards were rejected. Toward evening, we will visit several gas stations, in order to see the long lines that in many cases end in bitter disappointment – because they have run out of fuel.

But you must admit that Tsipras is charming. He has charisma. He even walks around without a tie. His finance minister rides a motorcycle. These are the two who managed to wipe out Greece in the space of half-a-year.

On the second day of the tour, we will talk to unemployed young people who haven’t worked for several years, because the unemployment rate in this beautiful country is about 25 percent. We’ll visit the stores and discover that they are running out of merchandise and that credit cards are no longer honored. Businessmen whose shoulders sag under all the pressure will tell us that the national sport in Greece is non-payment of taxes and smuggling money abroad – because of their great confidence in the socialist system.

And because we are talking about a very respectable delegation, I will be able to arrange a meeting with Tsipras himself, who will tell the charmed guests – Khenin, Galon, Yonah and Yacimovich – how he and his friends pressured Greek governments to enlarge the budget, increase allowances and wages and totally ignore the size of the deficit and the extent of the debt. He will describe to them how he cooperated with the large unions and won gains for the workers, such as retirement at the age of 55 and a 13th- and 14th-month salary.

He will show them graphs that demonstrate how the public sector grew to monstrous proportions – 40 percent of the economy – because the government always knows better than the private citizen about what to do with the money.

In reply to a question, Tsipras will explain that he won the election because he promised not to repay the debts to Germany and to Europe, to raise the minimum wage by 30 percent, to increase employment in the government sector, to increase everyone’s pension, to distribute a free health services basket and coupons for discounts on electricity and food, and not to allow the evil banks to remove a person from his home – even if he has stopped making his mortgage payments altogether.

Yacimovich’s eyes will shine with happiness. That’s so similar to my economic program in 2013, she’ll tell Tsipras joyfully, and he’ll embrace her like a prodigal daughter who has returned.

And then all the participants in the tour – Khenin, Galon, Yonah and Yacimovich – will applaud in admiration and tell Tsipras: Come to us, to Israel, in order to teach us how to do the right things to encourage growth, employment, stability and welfare. Come to us and bring about the socialist revolution that we need so badly.

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