Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO
Government must remember that real estate issues are inseparable from economic core issues
Photo: Avi Ohayon, GPO

Mission Impossible 2013

War over Israel has just begun. New task force in Knesset and government faces mission of Herculean proportions, with little prospects of success. Calcalist publisher Yoel Esteron's remarks at 2013 Real Estate Conference

Maybe my sense of smell is off but it seems to me that there's a new scent in the air – the scent of optimism, and not only from this year's early Spring. It's a smell that is made up of cautious optimism mixed with doubt – our national DNA.


Still – it's optimism, or at least opti-pessi-mism.


Yet it's hard to brush off the nagging feeling that spring 2013 is a mirage, a harbinger that the thing that hath been is that which shall be, that the government by any other name would smell just the same and that Bibi hasn't changed his spots.


It takes just five words to sum up this wariness: Deputy. Defense. Minister. Danny. Danon. Don't laugh, because the joke is on you. It's on all of us.


Of course, Danon is just an allegory, proof that the battle waged in the recent elections is far from over. The war over Israel lies ahead.


It's all good and well to celebrate the 19 Knesset seats Yair Lapid garnered and to relish in the fact that he is willing to fight tooth and nail for the Finance portfolio. It's also nice to see Bennett portrayed as the new fresh breeze of Israeli politics, but the war has just begun.


People are intoxicated by the new haredim-free government, and by being so forget that at the end of the day, the turf is still Netanyahu's, and for all intents and proposes, he's still the same Bibi, part and parcel with "the Nathan" and "the Sara." It's still the same cynical, predatory clockwork administration that crushed any shred of diplomatic initiative in recent years, trampled on the middle class's social protest, was indifferent to the housing plight of young couples, set up the "Trajten-blah-blah" committee and cared less about equal shouldering of obligations then it did about pistachio ice cream.


Those who labored through the coalition agreements and government policy documents probably felt like Little Red Riding Hood lost among the shadows of the woods and lost sight of the forest for the trees. The profusion of captains in Bibi's new lineup evokes images of the Titanic – all decked up and festive right before it slams into the giant iceberg looming straight ahead.


Bennett as captain of cost of living affairs?

It's hard to make head or tails of the new administration, particularly when it comes to economic affairs – we have a minster of construction and housing, but the minister of finance will head the Housing Cabinet and the PM himself will not let relinquish that steering wheel so readily.


And what about Naftali Bennett as captain of cost of living affairs and free market competition? Isn’t that more up the alley of his ally Yair Lapid? Rabbi Shai Piron would probably quote the Book of Nahum: "She is empty, and void, and waste; and the heart melteth, and the knees smite together, and much pain is in all loins, and the faces of them all gather blackness."


One might suspect that this chaos is not the music of chance, rather, it's a matter of convenience for the prime minister, who is more than a bit intimidated by the Lapid-Bennett alliance. "Well then," thought the prime minister, "let's throw them together in the mix of old politics and see them try to swim their way out of this soup."


Indeed, something shifted in the recent elections. Israeli citizens who work hard and serve in the army spoke out. They kicked the left-right partisan paradigm and forced Netanyahu to form a government not on the traditional basis of natural alliances. They now expect to see a dramatic change in national priorities and an immediate improvement in their quality of life.


Unfortunately, wars are no longer won in one fell swoop and more Blitzkriegs no longer exist. The new task force faces a mission of Herculean proportions, Mission Impossible 2013, only with Lapid instead of Tom Cruise. I leave it up to you to decide who Bennett resembles.


It's still too early to foretell whether the allies can affect a real revolution but I doubt they can prevail over the colossal, unbridled forces that stymie any chance of change in Israel's society.


To see this mission through, they need you, me and anyone who wants to see real change, to remain vigilant even in-between elections. It behooves us to afford the new politicians the chance to beat old politics. We must not allow election-campaign promises to vaporize into thin air, as they normally do.


The day the new government sets sail, it must remember that real estate issues are inseparable from economic core issues, which in turn are indivisible from Israel's defense threats and diplomatic matters. I'm one of those eccentrics who believe in Israel's capacity for long term prosperity – that is, if it is able to mend its fences and reach a fair settlement with its neighbors.


In the meantime, suffice it to make a more modest wish that the current administration will rise above the hard feelings left over from the elections and coalition negotiations and make good on the promises it gave the constituents. That would be nothing short of a miracle.


I started off with the smell of spring and scent of optimism, and would like to end on the same note. Being cynical is easy. Maybe there is something in the air this spring, with the burst of new energy in the government and Knesset, so let's just for a moment leave behind "Old Man Israel" traditions and be more optimistic.


Yoel Esteron is the founder and publisher of business daily Calcalist


This op-ed was originally published in Hebrew by Calcalist



פרסום ראשון: 03.20.13, 08:17
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