Jewish Tahrir Square, Marie Antoinetzky, and the Death of GDP


“…he was surprised by the housing protests across the country, ‘because the economy is doing well.” Time for a Jewish period of rebellion against the macroeconomics of super-wealth. Marie Antoinetzky meets real Jewish people–and their Arab neighbors. This is healthy for Israel and for peace. I love it when GDP and other measures fall right on their face in broad daylight. Harder to refute their nonsense about who is doing well and who is not, when the society is adding millionaires and billionaires like crazy and average people are going homeless. It is ironic, even astonishing, that just as the “Labor” Party in Israel has died under the able leadership of the ever altruistic Ehud Barak, that Tahrir Square, sorry Rabin Square, becomes too small to contain the nonviolent rage of the people. No big surprise:

At present, the richest people in Israel pay the least tax. As economic correspondent Meirav Arlosoroff has pointed out, the average income tax rate among Israelis is 20.5 percent.

The upper 1% of salaried workers – the ones grossing NIS 69,000 a month – pay 40% of their income on average.

But the uppermost 1% of the selfemployed, grossing NIS 425,000 a month, pay just 26%.

This is because these people’s income is mainly derived from assets such as rental income, dividends or interest payments and capital gains, on which the tax rate is appreciably lower than the tax on labor.


How did a country with such a strong socialist background, the home of the Kibbutz, surrender to Netanyahu’s radically libertarian policies? How did they swallow the Kool Aid that GDP equals prosperity for all?  Simple. Same as how such a secular country with such a strong and liberal Declaration of Independence, could now fall prey to a racist, extremist party on the one side, Yisroel Beitenu, and ultra-Orthodox blackmail on the other. They all shared their fear and loathing of  Arabs and Palestinians, and their permanent fear of neighbors. Were there good reasons at one time for uniting behind illiberal and bigoted candidates because Jews were afraid? Perhaps, a permanent state of war can do that. But perhaps now that consensus, that willingness to submit to any kind of corruption and betrayal of foundational values, in order to keep the fight going, to keep the Occupation going instead of peace with 22 Arab states, maybe that consensus is eroding. And maybe it begins with affordable housing. Good for Israel, good for the cousins and neighbors, good for the Middle East. Alas, can we find a war, any war to start, in order to not face the music?


© Marc Gopin