Sep.25, 2012 | 3:23 AM–”The media tried to fan the flames of the social protest and even I began to believe that there was one,” declared Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz. He was trying to rearrange the reality in his head so as to rid it, once and for all, of the nightmare that befell him out of the blue during the summer of last year, to free him of the frenzy that suddenly began rocking him, so much so that he was completely confused.
The truth is that Steinitz also manages to confuse us from time to time. Sometimes when we see him in a neatly pressed suit, getting patted on the shoulder by his big patrons, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fischer, we too are enticed to believe in illusions. For example, that we have a finance minister who functions, who understands the important issues he is dealing with, who is connected with and responds to the complex economic reality in which Israel finds itself, and who can also take the leadership – other than by screaming hysterically “Iran, Greece, Spain” – on weighty matters such as the approval of a budget for 2013, which is still lying around in the storeroom of things that aren’t touched until disaster strikes.
A week had not yet passed from the time of publication of the August consumer price index, which surprised us with an audacious leap of one percent; we had just read about the latest housing price rise (a few months after his godfather, Netanyahu, had announced, trancelike: “We have taken care of the price of apartments” ) in the cumulative, soaring 40 percent increase since this government took power; the bent back of Israel’s citizens had not yet straightened out after absorbing the spikes in the prices of gasoline, electricity, water and food – and Steinitz was already letting loose and summing up the entire hullabaloo of summer 2011 as some annoying media gimmick. “The media has lost its respect for one simple and small word – truth,” he said. “What did Stanley Fischer say to me a year ago? The index rose only by two percent. How is it that all the media are talking about unprecedented price hikes? After all, there is an index; it is scientific, they check.”
Just like the declaration of his colleague in the government, Ehud Barak, who is selling his apartment in the Akirov towers for NIS 26.5 million to take into consideration the public’s feelings, Steinitz’s remarks reflect something worse than the arbitrariness and stupidity of which many elected officials in this country are suspected. They reflect insensitivity that borders on autism. They teach us something about the simple but cruel way in which the desensitization mechanism operates…Read More>>