‘Social rebellion will burst into violence’

Owner of a large consumer goods company says Israelis will soon take to the streets.

By ILANIT HAYUT
July 4, 2011 23:30
3 minute read.
Sweat shop workers sewing

Sweat shop workers-311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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“This protest [over cottage cheese prices] is the start of a broader and much more serious social rebellion: It is an expression of terrible anger that will burst out in violence,” the owner of a large consumer products factory told Globes Monday.

“Bibi [Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu] is a nice guy – he has created a free economy, flourishing – but the partners to this prosperity are the owners and a very thin socioeconomic layer of talented and young people in senior positions in hi-tech, in industry and in the banks,” he said. “Fifty percent of the population have subnormal salaries and are not part of the celebrations.”

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“Ultimately it will be like a bomb hitting our heads,” he added. “We cannot carry on with 10% of the population living [very well] and 50% of the population earning the minimum wage plus a little.

A democratic state will be here for many years only if there is a very strong middle class. There cannot be a polarization of the rich when most of the population has their heads in the ground.

"I’m hurting."



Globes: What’s hurting you? You yourself belong to the top 10%.



“I also want my children to be millionaires, and I don’t want them to be in a position where they will say to us: Hello hello, bring us your money.”


How exactly? “They will impose a tax and take 20% of our property, and that will go to the Treasury. I think there is such a possibility because the polarization will lead to revolution. There are many Israelis that are not going out onto the streets, but they have good reason to do so. And in the end they will go out.”

The senior executive was harshly critical of the government, saying: “What sort of government do we have? What sort of idea was it to raise excise on fuel? It’s OK to take excise on fuel, but what’s the point of putting up excise when the price of all fuels is going up? The government is putting up all prices all the time and without any limits.”

“They are asking women to go out to work,” he added.

“And who will look after the kids? How can a young couple where both partners are working spend NIS 5,000 on two children per month? Why do we need such surpluses in the government coffers? To build more roads in the territories? While putting the age of compulsory kindergarten down to three, give something to ordinary citizens.”

Isn’t industry contributing to the situation? “It’s not the role of industry to set the minimum wage. In my company there is no concept of the minimum wage. We pay 5% more than the minimum wage without thinking about it, but I cannot speak about all industry. If a factory can’t pay the minimum wage or more, it shows that that industry has a problem.”

If you sat in the government what would you do? “I see the macroeconomic picture. Those in the government only see a picture where they need to air the opinion that it is possible to raise the minimum wage. The revolutions in the Arab countries are not happening because of Mubarak’s corruptness but because of 40% unemployment among young people. If we want to prevent that we need to give to the population.

I’m in favor of enlightened capitalism, not greedy capitalism.”

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