Over the past several months, there have been price hikes in almost every product and service in Israel. The price of gasoline is already almost double that of the US, the price of electricity has jumped 9.6 percent, water by nearly 8 percent, cars, appliances, and now even staple foods are jumping, in some cases up to 36 percent. Anywhere else, this would have sent millions into the streets to protest. In Israel, not a peep, as if nothing has changed but the headlines in the papers and the bottom line of the bill. It is not that the government cannot mitigate the spike, but it, too, does nothing, a matter of priorities. Will these hikes change anyone’s mind in light of the upcoming general election? Probably not. The people absorb in silence.
What is stranger still is the fact that many people are completely unaffected by the hikes. For many societies in Israel, government decisions make very little difference in their personal lives. They live in large communities that conduct their own lives as if they were a country within a country. Bnei Brak, the orthodox city where I lived for many years, is just such a bubble, as are the residents of Jerusalem, and as is the Arab population in Israel.
The volatile economy, it turns out, not only harms the disadvantaged defenseless who have no “country within a country” to protect them, but exposes yet another aspect of the social division within Israel. This division both harms Israel’s position in the world, and harms the Israeli people’s bargaining position against their own government.
With the world being in an economic storm, I cannot see how Israel can avoid being unaffected altogether. However, the country’s economy is very strong, and the government has plenty of leverage to play with. It can decide what and whom to support, and what and whom to allow to fail. Currently, because the people are divided among themselves, they are nearly powerless against decisions that take anyone’s interest into account but theirs.
Again, if we are not united, we cannot achieve anything. As with all our troubles, the inflation is here to show us that if we want to succeed, we must act in concord, in unison, and this requires unity.
If we had solidarity, we could bring the prices down to very affordable levels, especially when it comes to such basic needs as food. But since we have no solidarity, even eating becomes an uncertainty for some people in Israel in 2022.