Where are today’s leaders?

Leaders at their core are problem solvers; Israel is a country with no shortage of problems.

October 6, 2013 00:14
4 minute read.
A MAN LOOKS out of an apartment window.

A MAN LOOKS out of an apartment window 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Many people have different ideas as to what constitutes a leader. For me, a leader is someone who doesn’t just talk, but rather acts.

Leaders at their core are problem solvers. They see a problem, they form an action plan to solve that problem, and then they delegate to implement a solution.

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Israel is a country with no shortage of problems.

While most people will agree on the severity of the security threats Israel faces both externally and internally, I don’t believe those serving in the Israeli government truly understand the severity of the problems that young people in Israel trying to build a life here face.

One of the major problems today facing young Israelis – both olim and native Israelis alike – is buying a home. This problem is not new; within the past decade, housing prices have risen at a rapid pace while wages have remained stagnant.

My boyfriend, Moshe, and I both have steady jobs, but despite making what are considered respectable incomes, we cannot buy an apartment without help from both of our parents.

For Moshe’s parents, as for many Israeli parents, this is a given; they knew long ago that they would have to lend some assistance to their son for him to buy an apartment. When I tried to explain to my American parents that I would need some help (a lot of help) to afford an apartment, you can imagine that they weren’t exactly thrilled, despite the fact that my parents are very giving people.

Both of my parents are several months away from retirement, and the money they have saved up is for them to live on when they retire. How is it that I am nearly 30 years old, have a stable job in hi-tech, and have to ask my parents for a considerable amount of money to help me buy an apartment? Many Israelis are not looking to buy apartments in upscale areas, yet despite this the prices are still skyhigh.

Several weeks ago, Moshe and I visited several of the builders in the Yehud/Or Yehuda area – areas once considered affordable. To begin with, none of the builders are even building three-bedroom apartments, only four-bedrooms and higher, which of course means steeper prices. When one of the builders we paid a visit to told us the price of a four-bedroom apartment, we literally laughed out loud, and Moshe said, “Where are we supposed we get all that money?” To which the nonchalant response was, “The bank gives.”

Encounters such as these with builders in Israel are not unique. Some two years ago tens of thousands of Israelis stood in Kikar Hamedina during the big protest against the government and the housing/economic situation. I was one of the young people there, but I honestly did not get the severity of the situation.

I wasn’t looking to buy an apartment then, and I just didn’t get it.

Some people will argue that one can get by in Israel without buying an apartment (which many are forced to do), but others would like the security of knowing that once they start a family, the rent won’t suddenly be raised ridiculously, or the owner won’t want new tenants, or sell the apartment. How can a couple have young children in such a situation without a great deal of stress and continual uncertainty? I wrote that a leader is someone who acts, and now I ask: where are Israel’s leaders? Israel’s economy is predicted to grow by 3.9 percent in 2014, but most Israelis struggle daily and the question once again is: where is the money? Part of the answer is obvious; a lot of the money goes to Israel’s defense, which it rightfully should, but that certainly isn’t all of it. Where is the plan of action on the part of Israel’s leaders for example on the housing situation, which is one of the biggest internal problems Israel faces? There is talk among Israel’s leaders, but no noticeable concrete action.

Since the protests in the summer of 2011, prices have increased. Taxes have been increased because the government is running such a deficit, further burdening the “have-nots” in Israel’s society. We are told that this is necessary for the next couple of years, but with the way Israel’s government is set up, who can guarantee that in a few years the same people implementing these measures today will still be in power to see them through? Leadership starts from the position of prime minister down to the local councils. My hope is that this post will serve as a call to action for the prime minister and his ministers. Mr. prime minister, if my boyfriend and I decide in the future to move to the United States because we simply cannot afford to build a life here, you will have lost two people who could have contributed greatly to Israel’s society and its future.

My dream as an olah is to raise a family here in Israel, for my children to be Israeli and not have to read in a textbook what the Land of Israel is, but to rather live it. Let me fulfill my dream of raising a family here in Israel. Do not point fingers, do not blame this person or this party – act.

The author has lived in Israel just over six years, works in sales, and currently resides in Shoham.

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