“Social justice,” as opposed to a peace treaty or Gilad Shalit’s release, is feasible because it only depends on us. “Social justice” can also be implemented at any price, because it is not conditioned upon the considerations of Mahmoud Abbas, his Palestinian Authority rivals or Hamas.
In order to bring Gilad Shalit back, we must adhere to the caprices and hidden motives of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam gang leaders. In order to implement “social justice,” it would suffice to change our domestic priorities.
What is this “social justice?” That’s another question. I would define it as follows: Society benefits those who benefit society, and grants fewer benefits to those who only benefit themselves. This definition is not binding; anyone is welcome to come up with his or her own definition.
One of the drawbacks of the wheels of justice is that they grind slowly. Netanyahu has established such slow grinder now, in the form of a committee. This government has created 20 committees since its formation, roughly one committee every month and a half. Around here, nothing has countered as many jokes and ridicule as the concept of a “committee.” One such dictum asserts that the establishment of a committee is only necessary in one case – when you wish to do nothing.
The starting position of Israeli society is frightening. Only 55% of Israelis work, that is, every working person carries on his back one who doesn’t work. This situation was produced and is encouraged by our political establishment. The worse news is that the non-working Israel is growing and reproducing three times faster than the working Israel.
Instead of setting up yet another committee, the prime minister should have stood up and said: From now on, we shall follow one decree – “A person shall be born to work!” It’s Jewish, it’s Biblical and it’s also social-democratic. The government would ensure that the reward for work is fair. We shall also make sure to put an end to corporate tricks and set sane salaries for senior executives.
On this festive occasion, Netanyahu should have also designated the Negev, Galilee and poor neighborhoods as our top priority.
What about defense budget?
We shall not ignore the defense budget, of course. Defense Minister Ehud Barak also established a committee some two years ago, to look into the operations of the army’s rehabilitation division. Its recommendations were not implemented. Had they been adopted and applied to the entire division, we could have saved billions of shekels, at least, in only one branch of the army.
When the defense budget is immune to cuts even at this time, it indicates that no change will be introduced. Various reports have characterized this budget as deceptive and manipulative. For example, look at the sixth submarine which the IDF is supposed to acquire from Germany. It costs some half a billion Euros, not including maintenance and operations. Most experts say we do not need a sixth submarine; there is no national security need for it. Nonetheless, it is being acquired.
Over the weekend, with social winds blowing at full force, the Defense Ministry cynically leaked its contribution to the social effort: An assortment of old ideas published regularly, such as giving up bases and land which the army has no use for and handing them over to the community. The next day, the Ministry asked the Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs committee for yet another NIS 620 million (roughly $200 million.)
The prime minister, just like his predecessors, knows exactly what he should be doing. He needs no committees. What he needs is courage. Some eight years, a book called “While we were watching” by Moshe Pearl was published, recounting the story of the Israeli economy’s self-destruct mechanism. The book powerfully described the erosion of the middle class, stuck between the growing bum population and tiny nobility of the wealthy. The person who recommended the book to me at the time was then-Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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