As the protests continue in Israel, I was intrigued by three lines from Aner Shalev’s op-ed in Ha’aretz:
At last, the social struggle in Israel has a chance, as the government cannot divert the public’s attention with a peace process. There is no peace process. There’s not even the appearance of one.
National security has always been center stage. It, not economics, provided the main dividing line between Israel’s largest political parties. Just recently a friend was saying why it made the idea of forming a truly social democratic party in Israel so difficult.
At last, the leaders of the struggle are the privileged classes, those known here as “the salt of the earth.” Those living in the center of the country and making double or triple the minimum wage have suddenly discovered that they, too, cannot buy an apartment or afford to spend half their wages on rent. At last, the social struggle in Israel has a chance, because the privileged classes are themselves downtrodden.
The Tel Aviv bubble (the State of Tel Aviv) as the vanguard of social change?
It’s not true that the government does not interfere in the economy, and that it operates according to the rules of supply and demand, competition and a free market. First of all, true competition is impossible when 10 families hold sway over most of the market. Rather than American-style capitalism, this is more like a Russian-style oligarchy following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
When consumers rose up against cottage cheese prices earlier this year, the struggle emphasized that a few companies control the dairy market. But Shalev broadens the point. With a small Israeli market, a few companies can choke off competition.