The Four Sons From the Haggadah

Stanley Fischer is the wise son; Alon Hasson is the wicked son; Ilan Levin is the simple son; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the son who does not know how to ask.

The Torah speaks of four sons - one who is wise, one wicked, one simple, and one who does not know how to ask. What does the wise one say? "I have done the impossible. I have succeeded in convincing the public that you can keep two balls in the air simultaneously without them falling to earth even for one small moment, a trick which even the Great Houdini was not able to perform. Look, I am holding both the ball of inflation and the ball of exports in the air and the public is applauding me. Therefore I am the wise son from the Haggadah."

It is true that Stanley Fischer, the governor of the Bank of Israel, has won acclaim from all sides. He is considered "the responsible adult."

Indeed, we are talking of an economic personality of international stature who has elevated Israel's name in the world. However, with regard to inflation and the exchange rate, we are in a complicated situation because it is impossible to keep those two balls in the air simultaneously.

That is also the reason why the Bank of Israel Law states that the bank will concentrate on only one mission - maintaining the stability of prices. And only when this aim is fully realized can the bank free itself to assist with exports and growth.

But now, on the eve of Passover, it turns out that both the exchange rate is dropping and exports are being harmed, and we are being threatened by inflation.

The wicked son from the Haggadah is Alon Hasson, the committee chairman from the Ashdod Port. Three weeks ago, he celebrated his daughter's bat mitzvah, and so that the celebration would be complete, he invited most of the port workers. The result: the port was closed for four solid hours.

The damage to the economy was great. Long lines of trucks formed outside the port, waiting for his royal highness to give his subjects the sign that they must return to work, but they returned only after the coffee and cake were served.

This is an event that does not happen even in a Third World country. The port's management should have been dismissed after this. But who is the management? After all, it is the workers who manage the port. They close it down almost totally when Shabbat starts, they work only partially at night, and this is also true at Passover.

The result: On average, a cargo ship waits in the port six hours, compared with half an hour in other parts of the world. The price is paid by all of us.

The simple son from the Haggadah is Ilan Levin, the Finance Ministry's director of wages. Levin believes that people have good hearts from a young age.

He has a merciful and forgiving heart and is incapable of not sympathizing with the social workers, the doctors, and even the municipal rabbis. He knows that one cannot give everyone everything they are asking for, but the moment he expresses "understanding", he effectively broadcasts to the committee heads - you should ask for more.

In the struggle over the social workers' salaries, Udi Nisan, head of the Finance Ministry's budgets division, suggested a hike of 18 percent. Levin proposed 25 percent (which was accepted ), but the social workers remained dissatisfied.

The question is, why is there such a demand for studies in social work, teaching and medicine when everyone claims that their salaries are so shameful? Perhaps the committees are pulling the wool over Levin's eyes?

The son who does not know how to ask is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He has a grasp of economics and therefore he knows that if the budget is increased and there are exaggerated wage hikes, this is a death blow to growth. He knows that in this way it will not be possible to lower taxes and to encourage growth. But nevertheless he does not ask anything. He does not make things difficult and he does not stop them. Because he wants to be the good grandfather that everyone loves. And the economy? He will just leave the next crisis to his successor.

And the same is true of the diplomatic arena. Netanyahu knows that Israel is heading in the direction of international isolation. He knows that in September a Palestinian state will be declared that will be recognized by most countries of the world.

He knows that Europe and the United States want us to withdraw from the territories so that a Palestinian state can be set up so there will be relative stability in the region.

But he does not ask anything, because that is the way the coalition will survive and he will continue sitting safely on his seat and enjoying the pleasures of being in power.

So perhaps Netanyahu is not the son who does not know how to ask but rather the wicked son from the Haggadah?