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As Prices Increase, Netanyahu Sells Lies

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Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset, last month.
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset, last month.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Don’t envy Yair Lapid. For the next four months he'll be under an attack of lies, fake news and personal mudslinging from the direction of the greatest expert in the field Benjamin Netanyahu, who can look you straight in the eye and lie without batting a lash.

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There was a time when the media knew how to distinguish between truth and lies and refused to provide a platform for liars. Today, there are no lies, only “my truth” against “your truth,” and the media provides a platform for both, even though one is a lie. The problem is that the lie is more attractive, more colorful and easier to digest. That’s why it wins. It receives higher ratings and more likes, and consequently more screen time. It’s an upside-down world where liars have the advantage – and Netanyahu is a pathological liar.

Recently, he has been lying on economic matters. He has reached the conclusion that price increases are the hot-button issue infuriating the public, and therefore he strikes there constantly, with endless lies, baseless promises and deceptions galore.

On the day the Knesset was dissolved, he visited a large supermarket. He stood in front of a fruit display, picked up an apple and told his audience: “You want prices to fall? Vote for us, we’ll reduce the prices,” and received applause. Nobody asked how he would reduce them, whether it’s even possible, and what part he played in the price increases.

He continued to walk around the supermarket, stopped again and turned to the shoppers: “Did your mortgage increase? Did fuel prices increase? We’ll reduce them.” And then someone complained: “Look what happened to the prices of disposable dishes,” and Netanyahu shot from the hip: “When we come to power, we’ll lower all the prices on disposables.” For another vote, he’ll even promise the moon.

On another occasion, he blamed Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid’s government for price increases and said it was the reason that “every Israeli is now paying more for rent, food and fuel.” The truth is completely different. In the most sensitive realm, housing prices, Bibi bears most of the blame. During his 12 years as prime minister, he failed to increase the number of building starts at a sufficient pace or speed up the granting of construction permits. It was actually Bennett’s government that greatly increased the number of building starts, the proper solution to the insanity of real estate prices.

Bibi also played a substantial role in the country’s overall price increases, due to the tens of billions of superfluous shekels he showered on the public during the first stages of the pandemic as an election bribe. The Bank of Israel is also to blame, having caused a sharp increase in the amount of money in the country.

In respect to food and fuel, it is no secret that their prices increased due to external events. First came the coronavirus, which closed factories, slowed global production and raised the cost of raw ingredients and maritime transport. It was followed by the war in Ukraine, which led to an increase in the prices of metals, grains, oil and coal.

Unfortunately for Lapid, price increases are continuing: gas and coal are becoming still more expensive, and now comes the turn of electricity, water, price-controlled dairy products and eggs. In order to stop this wave, government policy must be responsible rather than populist, even though it’s the eve of an election. We must maintain a low deficit, increase interest rates, lower customs fees, implement reforms, and refrain from approving generous wage hikes.

The salary dispute with the country’s teachers is a test case. If Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Lapid don’t withstand the pressure, and grant the teachers a generous wage agreement, the entire public sector will be standing in line with similar demands. This will spread to the private sector, which will raise salaries and prices. That will lead to a vicious cycle: price increases, wage increases and again price increases.

Meanwhile, it seems that they are withstanding the pressure and aren’t giving in to the demands of Teachers’ Union head Yaffa Ben-David. In contrast, if Netanyahu were now at the helm, Ben-David would easily have received everything she wants. After all, the teachers have a vote, and for Bibi that’s what counts. For him, his personal interests always come before the government’s interests.

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