Once last summer’s social justice movement freed itself of its too-broad general slogans, it began talking about a socialist regime. Fortunately, there is almost no one who wants to see the return of the sad days of Mapai, the socialist Zionist that was dominant in Israeli politics through the 1960s. But every honest person must admit: There has been social change, starting from the systematic implementation of many of the Trajtenberg Committee recommendations and ending with the new law to provide free public education starting at age 3, which the government approved on Sunday.
Even cries of joy expressed by the media at the sight of internal government rebellion -- which sounded as though the rebels were protesting a law favoring the Alawi minority in the Syrian regime -- all died down on Sunday in the face of budgetary compromises made to facilitate this law. In turn, this law will significantly improve the personal budgets of most families, who until now have been forced to spend thousands of shekels on their children’s education in private or public institutions.
On the the defense budget (which is being cut by only one-seventh of the amount recommended by the Trajtenberg panel), it is important to keep pushing for transparency. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said on Saturday to Makor Rishon that he does not know how the NIS 1.5 billion increase he approved last month to the defense budget will be spent. “I have no idea what this money is for,” he said.
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This is disturbing, because the absence of transparency leads to inefficiency. One can hope that the Finance Ministry will not ease up on its demands for transparency in the defense budget.
And what do the harbingers of doom have to say? Things are so bad. So bad. The region around us is in turmoil and here things are relatively stable; economies in Europe are collapsing while Israel’s economy is growing and providing employment opportunities. But the harbingers of doom insist: Things are bad. Free education at age 3? Bad and populist. Or to quote political commentator Sima “Raging” Kadmon: “chaos and amateurism.” (How is it that she hasn’t yet been asked to come and fix all the government’s ills in light of the hundreds of columns in which she rates the intelligence of our elected officials?)
Either way, we can definitely rejoice in this new law. There will always be controversy, and it is only natural that every minister tries to put his or her hands on the biggest piece of the small pie. It is good that a compromise has been reached.
By the way, advertising executive and political strategist Gil Samsonov accurately predicted on Channel 2's "Meet the Press" how the government would behave. It is a shame that Kadmon didn’t confer with him before promising that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would back down in shame and renege on his promises.
But we are used to the way things are: No matter what Netanyahu’s government does, the harbingers of doom will always be there to sing in their hoarse voices how terrible things are.
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