August 4: The social upheaval

The disadvantaged will remain disadvantaged until the debate shifts to the real issue: poverty due to economic inequity.

The social upheaval
Sir, – Regarding “Protest leaders publish initial demands of gov’t” (August 3), the income gap between the most wealthy and the poorest in Israel is among the biggest in the world. The richest earn an outrageous multiple of those who earn the least.
The problem locally is that the wealthy and the high earners look unlikely to relinquish their financial advantage. There are no quick-fix solutions.
The media and the politicians, here as elsewhere in the world, will defend the wealthy people’s power. The disadvantaged will thus remain disadvantaged until the debate shifts to the real issue: poverty due to economic inequity.
PAUL BROWN Kfar Vradim
Sir, – A few words of caution:
• You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
• The government cannot give to anybody anything it does not first take from somebody else.
•You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.
• When half the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for – that is the beginning of the end of any nation.
Sir, – The suggestion that the problem of affordable housing, free healthcare, childcare and education can be solved by the kibbutz movement (“Affordable housing...,” Letters, August 2) is as unrealistic as some of the demands voiced by the “social reform demonstrators.”
Most kibbutzim, including many belonging to the ultimate in socialist ideology, Hashomer Hatza’ir, have privatized. Members now pay for services, from food through education and healthcare.
The failure of the kibbutz movement proves conclusively the worthlessness of socialism, communism and total equality no less than did the demise of the Soviet Union.
Sir, – It is high time that Prime Minister Netanyahu comes to meet the people of Israel and listen to their list of woes and tribulations.
Netanyahu has built a state that is economically and militarily stable at a time of world upheaval, and for this we are all thankful. But it was achieved at the expense of an overtaxed, underpaid population that is now clamoring for social and economic reform.
This dangerous, unhealthy situation must not be allowed to develop into violence, anarchy and widespread despair. This is not the Israel we came to live and glory in.
The prime minister should make the State of Israel into the paradise it could and should be for us all, and not simply for the rich.
Sir, – Initially, it was encouraging to see young people taking to the streets in favor of social reform. However, as the movement grew, I began to wonder what exactly was motivating them.
A common misconception they have is that they are living in the West. Many see themselves as part of a Western enclave inconveniently, or perhaps mistakenly, plopped down in the Middle East.
It is of little account to the demonstrators that the economies they revere are crumbling, while the Israeli economy thus far is holding strong. This is in no small measure due to policies initiated by Prime Minister Netanyahu, the object of their scorn.
So what do they really want?
LINDA WOLFF Sha’arei Tikva
Sir, – I think I speak for a lot of the silent majority. No, we cannot go out in the heat and sit in the parks and sleep in the tents. But we are there in spirit and support, and we say to all the social protestors, kol hakavod!
This is a stunning victory and it speaks so well for our democratic system. There is order and a call for social justice. They are our voices, these young and not-so-young who are willing to stand outside in this long, hot summer and make their voices heard.
May the God of Israel, under whose wings we have all sought refuge, continue to give them the strength and ability to carry on. Don’t give up!
Sir, – Housing in Israel is the hot topic of the day, complete with protesters blaming the prime minister for a problem that has been festering for decades.
These street protesters, however, are doing us all a favor. If we think housing is a problem now, what will happen if Israel accepts a two-state solution and allows the Palestinians to demand the removal of settlers? Where will those 300,000 Jews go?
TUVIA BRODIE Ma’aleh Adumim
No choice
Sir, – While I understand that the doctors and medical residents deserve better working conditions, what about the people whose health is being jeopardized by the strike? I suspect that there are thousands of people whose health is in danger.
These people are not like Dr. Leonid Eidelman, head of the Israel Medical Association who embarked on a hunger strike – they did not volunteer to imperil their health. They are instead trapped in an ugly situation, with no exit in sight.
So I agree with your August 1 editorial “End the doctors’ strike!” I request that the Finance Ministry and the doctors get down to non-stop negotiations and not take a break until the issue is resolved.
Tell the story
Sir, – I was pleased to read “Pollard play put on at Knesset” (August 2). Many of us have given much thought to the unjust sentence given to Jonathan Pollard.
After recalling the impact that Emile Zola’s printed and spoken words regarding the Dreyfus Affair had in France, it occurred to me that a play or movie about Pollard might have influence in America.
My suggestion is that the Cameri Theater go on tour nationwide in the US.
Top to bottom
Sir, – Well, we’ve finally reached bottom. We’ve had dirty officials at all levels – president, prime minister, finance minister – and now, perhaps, a judge. And not just any judge, but one from the nation’s highest court (“Supreme Court Justice Yoram Danziger to be questioned under caution over Lahiani Affair,” August 2).
Doesn’t it feel good to know that even our top judges might be dirty? We’ve had all the rest; it’s time now to investigate the courts. It’s a pretty disgusting situation, but let’s face it, it had to come.
So now we know: Even our most trusted officials are under suspicion.
What’s next? I don’t even want to know.
Taking exception
Sir, – Regarding “‘Grunis Bill’ passes preliminary reading in Knesset” (July 29), this legislation – which would reduce the minimum term for a Supreme Court president and allow Justice Asher Dan Grunis, who is nearing retirement age, to succeed court president Dorit Beinisch when she herself retires in February – is symptomatic of a huge problem in Israel today: disregard for the law.
Everyone is an exception.
Surely, the minimum term for the Supreme Court president was determined for good reasons, but perhaps we don’t need a minimum term after all. Or minimum cooling-off periods before generals go into politics. Or speed limits. Or restrictions on foreign workers.
Why do we bother making rules when groups continuously lobby to have them changed?