Real Problems, False Answers from Demagogues & Subversives
It has long been known that demagogues and those who would take over a state take advantage of real issues, real problems. So it was in Weimar Germany when the Nazis of the National Socialist German Workers Party took advantage of the world economic crisis at the end of the 1920s. The Nazis too blamed the tycoons of the time --often identified by them as "Jewish international bankers." Needless to say, the Nazis did not solve Germany's or the world's economic problem. Rather they brought about a war that led to the destruction of much of Germany and of many Germans, besides the tens of millions of Jews and other peoples slaughtered in the war.
The economic crisis reached America too where it became known as the Great Depression. Franklin Roosevelt came to power and improved the situation but the United States did not get out of the Depression until the war with massive, government-funded war production and massive recruitment of millions of young men into the armed forces.
Israel's housing crisis is real. The situation became noticeable and started to be talked about early this year. Israel's central bank governor, Stanley Fisher, recently said at a press conference that he had made a choice in his management of Israel's monetary situation. He said that he preferred to bring down unemployment rather than solve the housing problem, since helping one situation with the tools available to him meant hurting the other situation. Indeed, the latest unemployment stat for Israel was 5.7% which is an excellent rate compared to Western Europe and the United States. Nevertheless, housing was getting more expensive, whether for sale or for rent. Especially in the Tel Aviv metro area, called here Gush Dan. Also, food prices have been going up. This reminds us that after some 15 or 16 Euro countries joined the euro currency, the Eurozone, food and other consumer prices went up there and have not come down, although theoretically this should not have happned. People complain in Italy, France and Germany over these inexplicable price rises. In Israel, the food price rise led to the cottage cheese boycott of several weeks ago.
This seems to have given a number of oppositionist bodies funded and coordinated by the New Israel Fund [itself funded in turn by the Ford Foundation among other sources] the idea to use socio-economic issues, rather than their usual whining about the sad fate of Arab terrorists and genocide mongers, in order to bring down the govt. So an employee of an outfit funded by NIF, Dafne Leef, set up a tent in the middle of Rothschild Boulevard in a fairly fancy part of Tel Aviv.
She claimed that she could not rent an apartment at a decent price in the fancier parts of Tel Aviv. She is a poor little rich girl. But the gimmick worked and she has been joined by others throughout the country. Tents supplied courtesy of funds provided by NIF, the Qadima Party, the Hadash Party [Communists], etc.
But what are the causes of the shortage of affordable housing? First of all, the freeze in building in Judea-Samaria, which Prez Obama pressured PM Netanyahu into accepting. Insofar as the NIF supports Obama's anti-Israel, anti-Jewish policy, then the NIF and its constituent funded bodies, like Shatil, are morally complicit in the freeze and in the consequent shortage of affordable housing. Another cause is the increased immigration [`aliyah] of Jews from France and elsewhere in Europe. They are being substantially driven out by the increased Judeophobia there, the most violent and dangerous part of it coming from the large Muslim population in France [not to say that all French Muslims take part in anti-Jewish violence], encouraged by some of the "extreme Left" in France, such as Trotskyist Olivier Besancenot. The immigrants from France are often fairly prosperous and have bought up much of the expensive upscale housing, especially on Israel's coast.
Lastly, in a period when building in Judea-Samaria is next to impossible, bureaucratic Israeli structures of long standing, such as the Lands Administration [minhal m'qarq`in], do their bit, as they have been doing for years, to retard building in the country inside the Green Line, keeping the supply of housing and commercial real estate down, and all this by dragging out the process of approval for building plans for years, up to seven years according to Netanyahu. The Lands Administration is in itself an entrenched special interest and protects certain special interests, the owners of existing built real estate [besides the fact that the head of the Lands Administration is among the highest paid officials in Israel, making more in 2006 than the prime minister in 2010]. When demand for RE outpaces supply, the prices of existing RE go up. It's the old, simple law of supply and demand. Netanyahu has long wanted to remedy this situation, talking about it even in his first term. In July 2009, two years ago, he was trying to pass legislation to reform the Lands Administration but something always came up to derail the final change [Globes, 5-5-2011Hebrew]. So this is something that Netanyahu has been working on for years but could not succeed in pushing through fully and finally. Various entrenched interests were opposed. Almost two weeks ago, Netanyahu pulled out at a press conference a new version of his program to reform the Lands Administration. The self-appointed leaders of the housing protests rejected his plan, claiming that it would make people rich, especially the hated but unnamed "tycoons." Yet, insofar as the Lands Administration was keeping down the housing supply by delaying approval of building plans, then the "protest" leaders were opposing a measure to increase the supply --and a larger supply would of course bring down prices. Maintaining the present system in fact enriches real estate owners, owners of existing built up real estate, because it limits the supply of new housing. So somebody is getting rich either way. If there is more building the contractors and building materials suppliers can get rich. If the Lands Administration is not reformed and Netanyahu's other plans to build homes and rental apartments do not go through then the owners of existing RE get richer.
By opposing the prime minister's proposals the self-appointed protest leaders show that they do not want a solution to the housing problem and do not want to help people.
Of course, the fact that the hard core of the protest movement does not want solutions but is more focused on bringing down Netanyahu, has not escaped many observers in Israel. Dror Eyder, writing in Yisrael HaYom [ 7-29-2011], reports on a lecture by Stanley Greenberg, a public opinion pollster and manipulator for Bill Clinton. Greenberg lectured here in Israel at a meeting of the Rubinger Forum meant to discuss reviving the Israeli "Left," and how to persuade people that there was a "palestinian partner" for peace, that the "settlements" were a "disaster" [conveniently giving the unthinking "leftist" herds somebody to hate], and that it was necessary to go back to socialist economics. Greenberg lectured about 1/2 year ago. He gave his audience "ten steps" to defeat their adversaries in Israel.
Curiously, the audience was told to read an essay by the anti-Communist Czech intellectual, Vaclav Havel, "The Power of the Powerless." Ironically, the "Left" in Israel is far from powerless and has always dominated major state institutions since independence, even under Likud govts. They dominate the police, the judiciary, the prosecutor's office, public broadcasting, etc., although some of this is changing, albeit too slowly. They once dominated the economy, exercising enormous power of people who simply wanted a job. Those who did not hold the Histadrut's red membership booklet could not get jobs controlled by the Histadrut which was probably most jobs at one time. Or would have to join in order to get the job, which was my wife's experience. Nevertheless, this membership did not protect her job. She taught for one year at a school owned by the Histadrut, an `Amal school. At the end of one year she was laid off, although a good teacher. All the new teachers were laid off at the end of one year [if they stayed more than a year they would have seniority to keep the job], except for a favored one or two who had ingratiated themselves with the principal. So the "Left" is hardly the disadvantaged or weaker party in Israel. They use their institutional control to continue to shape policy against the wishes of the majority of the people. In short, enemies of Israel at home and abroad, including the NIF, have been thinking of strategies for bringing down the govt.
So the "mass protests" are backed up by a lot of money and powerful institutions and individuals. One of the "leftists" admitted the reality, with some amount of commendable embarassment and regret. Money from the EU and the NIF [much of it originating with the Ford Foundation] is financing the "protest" movement. It is likely that the movement will keep on "protesting" whether any problems get solved or not. The money is there. And when you are paid to organize a protest, you don't drop out until your employer changes his policy.
But Netanyahu, ironically, was able to use these protests as a lever for pushing through his own, long-desired reform of the Lands Administration. It is obvious that the housing problem has been on his mind for a long time, and up till now he could not get his program through because of the opposition of entrenched interests. Now apparently, with the unwitting and maybe unwilling help of the protest movement's self-appointed leadership, he has finally done it. This is like a jiu jitsu fighter using his enemy's strength against that enemy. If this works out, I say to him Kol haKavod, all honors to you. More power to him. Likewise, minister of interior, Eli Yishai, used the situation to approve 930 units of new housing to be built in the Har Homa neighborhood of southeast Jerusalem. Approval of these units had been held up for almost two years out of a desire not to upset Obama who is bothered by Jews having a place to live. Yishai also recently approved a project in northern Samaria in a place called Harish for 4,700 housing units. Another place where Obama doesn't want Jews to live.
For an understanding of some of Israel's basic problems, see an essay by Martin Sherman, a shrewd and knowledgeable social and political analyst. He had an excellent op ed in the JPost showing what some of the real problems are in Israel and some of their causes as well as some of the obstacles to solving them. I agree with just about everything in the article. I have often read Sherman's articles in the JPost and Nativ and elsewhere and had a long conversation with him while he worked as a high official in the Ministry of Agriculture. He is both knowledgeable and honest, as well as shrewd.
To conclude with the leadership of the "protest movment." They are great with slogans. Slogans, slogans, slogans. But they are noticeably weak on solutions. They rejected Netanyahu's proposed solutions to the housing shortage with specious arguments [see above]. But they have a slogan. A favorite slogan: Social Justice. What's wrong with this slogan? Because just about everybody agrees with it, just about everybody can claim to be for social justice. But it means different things to different people. Everybody has his own notion of what social justice is. The strict Muslim wants Muslim rule over the whole world and the non-Muslims as subjects of the Islamic state must be dhimmis, people tolerated in a state of inferiority, like Jews and Christians in the traditional Islamic state that the Muslim Brotherhood --"moderates" according to big shots in Washington-- wants to go back to. On the other hand, a Catholic priest, Father Charles Coughlin, published a weekly paper in the 1930s in America entitled Social Justice. He didn't much like Jews. But he too wanted social justice. He said so himself. But he wanted his version. Although he ranted every week on radio about "international bankers," at first more often insinuated to be Jews, later, usually asserted to be Jews, Coughlin had quiet meetings with at least one international banker who was not a Jew. And after supporting Roosevelt for election in 1933, he became openly pro-Nazi starting in 1936. So the slogan social justice [ צדק חברתי] can mean being pro-fascist. The protest organizers are cleverly using vague, empty slogans. But these do not provide a solution. They are more meant to bring people into the movement --and hopefully bring down the Netanyahu-Likud govt, from their standpoint-- than to provide real solutions to help real people.
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8-8-2011 Yoaz Hendel writes that the demonstrators on Rothchild Boulevard represent not the people of Israel but only one of several "tribes" that make up the people [here]. The protest movement, specifically "the rally last night, was created by the media of this same tribe." And, Hendel writes, the numbers were "tens of thousands," not the 300,000 claimed by various media. He too agrees that "social justice" is a matter of opinion and point of view.
8-14-2011 Sarah Honig in the JPost provides her definitions helpful for understanding the current protest movement. She takes up terms like: front organization, astroturf, useful idiot & others [here].
8-15-2011 Zalman Shoval points to the demagogic slogans like "social justice", used by organizers of the protests, as well as to the foreign funding enjoyed by some of them [here]. Shoval acknowledges the real problems that exist, as well as the Orwellian quality of the protest organizers' response to the prime minister's proposal to reform the Israel Lands Administration [or Authority].
Benny Avni belittles the notion that the tent protest movement will bring down the Netanyahu government [here]. I concur.
8-25-2011 Yaniv Moyal, a protest leader outside the circle of Daphni Leef and her charmed circle of professional/full time radicals, complains that most of the media give that group all of the attention although they are young people of little experience and arrogant, domineering disposition [here in JPost]