Rising Prices in Israel: A Call for Justice
As a part of the Israeli population takes to the streets to protest against the justice reform initiated by Benjamin Netanyahu, I look at my fellow citizens with a skeptical eye and wonder: “What is driving these people to complain about a law on justice when nobody seems to want to take action against a real injustice : the exorbitant prices of daily goods?”
While it is true that in 1898, during the Dreyfus Affair, the Zionist genius Max Nordau defined justice as the most precious asset of the Jews: “As for us Jews, we remain crushed under the disgrace of having remained the craven spectators of others risking their lives in the fight for one of the holiest goods of man, nay, the holiest of all, – justice!“, it remains that not being able to afford basic necessities is the most unjust thing in the “land of the Jews.”
So, I will not talk about the cost of cars in Israel, which are at least twice as expensive as in the most developed OECD countries, but about everyday consumer goods (In France, you can buy brand new car from 5500 euros – 21.300 shekels, not even the price of a 10 years old car in Israel !).
As a former immigrant from France, I will have to resort to clichés to give an example and talk about breakfast! Bread, croissants, coffee… And I wonder: what could possibly justify such high prices in Israel?
In Paris, a baguette (which is roughly twice the size of the baguettes sold in Israel) costs between 0.29€ and 1.10€ (between 1.20 shekels and 4.30 shekels), depending on the location of purchase (supermarket or bakery). In Tel Aviv, it is easy to find good baguettes today… But generally, they cost between 12 and 16 shekels, which is at least 300% more expensive than in an excellent bakery located near the Champs-Élysées.
The price of a croissant in France is around one euro (3.9 shekels). In Raanana, a suburb north of Tel Aviv, I saw a shop selling the same croissant, this week, for 24 shekels (6.20€)! An increase of 600%! What could justify such a price?
Another example: Nespresso coffee machines. The simplest and smallest of them, the “Inissia,” is sold in France for 79€ (305 shekels)… Well, when it is sold! Customers can get a new one every two years for just 1€. At the Nespresso shop in northern Tel Aviv yesterday, I saw the same machine for 749 shekels (193€). Once again, what justifies this when we know that taxes in France are among the highest in the world?
And I could go on for hours and hours. I could talk about pineapples sold for 60 shekels (15€) in Bat Yam (a southern suburb of Tel Aviv), while they can be found for 2.29 euros (8.80 shekels) at Carrefour in Paris! I could talk about the price of cakes (on average 300% more expensive in Israel), restaurant prices (not even mentioning McDonalds !), furniture prices…
Even bottled water is outrageously expensive! A half-liter bottle costs 0.50€ in all the kiosks of Athens (1.95 shekels). How can it be sold for between 5 and 10 shekels each in Jerusalem or Tel-Aviv kiosks? Especially since it is a vital and basic necessity!
So, no matter what I think of the Israeli justice reform – and when I see that the average salary in Israel is a machine for creating the poor, I seriously wonder: is it the French revolutionary and rebellious spirit that lives in me that is driving me crazy, or are Israelis all sheep, ready to pay their bills in 12 installments to eat, without ever complaining?
This situation is intolerable. And it is not about protesting against one prime minister or another: it is about standing together against monopolies, duopolies, and lobbies (importers, farmers, etc.), who do essential work, but also gorge themselves indecently, simply because the Israeli people are “frayerim” – pigeons in French!
Boycotting yogurts from one company or another, one week per 5 years, is not enough. We need to mobilize. We need to allow the most disadvantaged to eat their fill, and for women – especially single mothers – to be able to feed their children without being in the red by the 10th of the month.
The real justice that the people of Israel should demand is this.
As for the protests against the justice reform initiated by Benjamin Netanyahu, it is important to understand that this reform raises serious concerns among many Israelis. They fear that it will lead to an erosion of the independence of the judiciary and undermine democracy in Israel. The reform would give the government greater control over the appointment of judges, making it easier for the government to appoint judges who are sympathetic to its political agenda.
Therefore, it is crucial for the Israeli people to stand up for their rights, both in terms of affordable living costs and the independence of the judiciary. It is time to break free from the chains of monopolies and duopolies and demand a fair and just society for all.