Last Monday Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz gave an interview to Channel 2's news anchor Yonit Levy during the prime-time news broadcast. Levy began the interview with a revealing "question."
Oozing professional probity, Levy said, "I assume you came here armed with wonderful data about the drop in unemployment and rising economic growth, but I want to ask you, Mr. Steinitz if for all your data you've forgotten the people, you've forgotten an entire class of working people who can't live?"
Not that she has an opinion.
Levy's question encapsulates the pathology of the Israeli media and the public discourse it engenders. In the case at hand, it is true that the facts show Israel has never been economically better off. But how about "the people"?
Levy and her comrades want to discuss abstractions, not facts. Abstractions like the amorphous "people," are attractive because they are meaningless and are therefore subject to politically correct interpretation. Facts are unattractive because they contradict the media's effectively uniform worldview and prejudices.
Due to this uniformity, for the past three weeks Israel's public discourse has been dominated by the media-supported "social justice" protesters. Three weeks ago fewer than a hundred protesters set up tents along Tel Aviv's tony Rothschild Boulevard and demanded lower rents in Tel Aviv - Israel's highest priced real estate market.
Ignoring the basic laws of supply and demand, the media immediately embraced the protesters as "the authentic voice of the nation." And so Israel's newest "social revolution" began.
And it has all been downhill from there.
If the protesters' initial demand for government intervention in the Tel Aviv rental market was simply dumb, their current demands are little less than a declaration of economic war against Israeli prosperity.
The protesters' are effectively demanding no less than the destruction of Israel's free market and a reversion to the state-controlled economy that doomed Israel to economic sclerosis for its first 45 years of independence.
They want the state to determine rents and nationalize housing construction. They want the government to get more involved in price controls than it already is. They want free day care and medicine. And they want cheap gas, cheap electricity and low taxes. And they want to punish the rich. Oh, and they want to live in communes.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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