First it was the Arab Spring; now it is the Israeli Summer.
First it was the Facebook call to stop buying overpriced Tnuva cottage cheese which mushroomed into the Facebook forming of tent cities throughout the country to protest the high cost of housing (particularly in Tel Aviv) which has now morphed into doctors and medical residents going on working strikes and hunger strikes that as new school year approaches will evolve into Israel being all aTwitter about teachers threatening to strike for higher wages. At least the airport workers signed a three year contract last year so Ben Gurion will not close down as every one attempts to leave the mess in the coming months.
The political response to all of these events has been very predictable. The Netanyahu government has actually tried to do something–announcing sweeping housing reforms yesterday. Tzipi Livni of the opposition Kadima party has attacked Netanyahu endlessly while offering no solutions of her own except for one.
Yesterday she expressed that solution in a long, disjointed rant about Netanyahu that she made to the press: “Instead of changing economic policies and managing those bodies under his control, Netanyahu is shirking responsibility, continuing to spread slogans that won’t solve the social problems and lessen the burden of young people and the state of building in Israel. Netanyahu doesn’t understand that the problem isn’t technical, but fundamental. In order to solve the country’s problems, we need complete national political change, not marginal solutions.”
OK Tzipi, we sort of get it. If only you were Prime Minister, then all of Israel’s problems would just vanish overnight. Never mind that the Netanyahu government has produced one of the strongest economies in the world with one of the lowest rates of unemployment, and never mind that we finally have a government in Israel that puts the security interests of the country first—if only you were Prime Minister Tzipi, then the cost of cottage cheese would be one shekel less per tub, and students would be able to afford penthouses on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv.
Herb Keinon of the Jerusalem Post put it brilliantly earlier this week when he compared the situation this summer with those situations in the past when Israel was in the throes of various security crises:
“Seen in the context of what the nation faced during the second intifada, the tents erected on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv this week are a welcome sign. Believe me, were the country still in terrorism’s grip as in the spring of 2002, were soldiers still being abducted along the Lebanese border as in the summer of 2006, and were kassam rockets still raining down on Sderot as in the summer of 2008, those tents would not be there because people would be more worried about those security-based issues. The current protests are a sign of a return, at least temporarily, to normalcy. It’s a luxury in our little part of the world to be able to focus on social and economic issues, not diplomatic and security ones. Today, for whatever reason, we feel we can afford that luxury. It’s refreshing; were that it would last.”
Well Herb, rockets may not be raining down in Sderot this week (they are ‘drizzling’ down), but your point is right on. All of Nasrallah’s bellicose declarations about protecting Lebanese gas and oil rights, Erdogan’s demands about getting an Israeli apology for the Mavi Marmara incident, Ahmadinejad’s declarations about speeding up the Iranian nuclear program, the Palestinian Authority’s threats to seek a Palestinian state at the U.N. in September, the newly emerging threats all around Israel as a result of the Arab Spring—to the Israeli public all of these are just not worth a tub of cottage cheese.