Netanyahu cannot buy Israelis’ silence
Opinion: The prime minister is worried about a dip in his popularity and thinks that putting cash in our bank accounts can jump-start a shattered economy and keep the protesters off the streets – but he is wrong on both counts
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announcing a cash gift for all Israelis
They were so sure we would be all jumping for joy in front of our television sets as we learned in a prime time press conference that cash would soon be delivered directly into our bank accounts.
They were so sure we would think ourselves as blessed, like lottery winners, and believe the thick haze of fear blocking out the summer sun would simply dissipate at the news.
They were so sure they could buy our silence with a bit of cash.
One can only guess the motive behind Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Israel Katz’s plan to dole chunks of money.
Perhaps they were rattled by the growing number of demonstrators in Tel Aviv and outside Netanyahu’s Jerusalem residence, or maybe they were concerned about Likud’s plummeting poll numbers.
What was evident though was that there is no economic plan behind Wednesday’s announcement. There is nothing beyond opium for the masses.
We would be wrong to believe the same officials who were so indifferent to the plight of the diminishing middle class before the pandemic would suddenly heed the cries of stagnating or shrinking incomes.
It would be equally mistaken to expect those same officials – who have allowed the social services that help the weakest in society to be depleted and consistently neglected the urgent needs of the medical system – to be able to rehabilitate those vital institutions at a time of mass contagion.
The prime minister’s announcement of gifting cash to us proves how disconnected he is from the public and his inability to differentiate between the haves and have-nots.
Protesters in Tel Aviv mark nine years since nationwide demonstrations over the cost of living. The posters read: ‘We are sick of the out-of-touch’
(Photo: Moti Kimchi)
Providing the same amount to all citizens shows the public that our leaders regard us as one homogeneous bloc of complainers, who can be driven apart by a shower of coins.
Whatever Netanyahu may claim, the money will not jump-start the economy. This is not a fiscal program specifically tailored to Israel’s economic needs that were devised by the finest minds.
“This is not a classic economic policy,” the finance minister conceded, reading from the government’s talking points.
“It allows us to infuse funds quickly, bypassing criteria and in contrast to the established programs,” he said as he recited the hastily written platitudes penned by experts in political gibberish.
Neither Mr. Netanyahu nor Mr. Katz said anything about the cruelest months still ahead.
August is when parents are required to spend fortunes on school supplies. The high holidays are also just around the corner, bringing with them more expense, and yet the two leaders could not even manage a single a word about the New Year.
They are relying on the poverty-stricken public to be content with the trickle they have bestowed upon us and stay off the streets.
They fear that the demonstrations will continue and even grow without their cash infusion. And once again, they are wrong.