Jack Cohen

Back to the past

Last Friday evening I saw a leader of the social protest movement, Stav Shaffir, interviewed on IBA News. She is an attractive young woman, very earnest and persuasive. After rejecting the implementation of the Trachtenberg Committee report by the Netanyahu Government, what she boldly demanded was for the Government to give the people housing, jobs, medical treatment and education, that’s all. In other words socialism! She forgets that Israel tried that until 1977, and it didn’t work, and now they want to go back to the past. Greece is in such a terrible economic plight now largely because of the socialist Government over-spending on social benefits for 20 years. Yes, the Papadopoulos Government gave the people of Greece what they wanted, and look where it got them. The fact is that socialism doesn’t work. Israel was rescued from socialism once and Greece is undergoing the same painful treatment now.

PM Netanyahu released the free market in Israel when he was Finance Minister under PM Sharon in 2003-2005 and that unleashed the Israeli economy. We are in much better straits now than almost any other country in Europe, maybe in the world. Because of that emphasis on capitalism we now have a nearly 5% growth rate compared to essentially zero for most countries in Europe. Now there are drawbacks to capitalism, and there can be abuses, as there were in several countries, including the US where the Banks and the mortgage companies abused their trust. But, the left in Israel are frustrated, because they are against free enterprise, and their share of the electoral pie has been shrinking. At the last election the left (including Labor and Meretz) won only 11 mandates, while the center (Kadima) got 28, compared to 42 for the right (Likud and Israel Beitanu) (I deliberately left out theArab and Jewish religious parties). So this is their way of out-flanking the electoral process, by appealing directly to the people through demonstrations and pressure.

Now demonstrations in a democratic country are good and are permitted, but the pressure tactics that come after them is scary. Even though the Government established the independent Trachtenberg Committee to look into their claims, and even though it came up quickly with a Report that was responsive to their complaints, and even though the Government has moved quickly to implement those proposals, it’s never enough. Give us more, is the cry of the socialists on behalf of the people. I say if they are dissatisfied let them go to the electorate, drop the facade of injured pride, stop the pressure tactics, and wait until the next election. Then let’s see whether the majority of the Israeli people genuinely want a socialist state or a free market economy.

About the Author
Jack Cohen was born in London and has a PhD in Chemistry from Cambridge University. He moved to the US and worked at the National Cancer Inst. and then Georgetown Medical School. In 1996, he Moved to Israel and became Chief Scientist of the Sheba Medical Center. He retired in 2001 and worked as a Visiting Professor at Hebrew University Medical School for 5 years.