Monday, August 22, 2005

Economics and Israeli "Settlements": Myths and Facts

Myth: The growing poverty in Israel is a direct result of the money that Israeli governments, both Labor and Likud, have invested into Jewish settlements in Judea, Samaria & Gaza. If only Israel would abandon the "settlement enterprise" and invest its funding and energies in social welfare projects in its stead, all of Israel's social ills would be cured.

Fact: Today's Ha'aretz reports the following troubling statistic:
Just 16 families hold the economic power in Israel, according to BDI Code's ranking by Business Data Israel released yesterday. The 16 control 20 percent of the revenues generated by Israel's 500 leading corporations.

The 16 families wield enormous economic power, having sway over more than 20 percent of that combined revenue, and employing more than 100,000 people.

What this translates into is that a handful of families control Israel's economy and are able to dictate to the government the types of laws and regulations that it would and wouldn't like to see legislated in the State of Israel.

With so few controlling so much of the Israeli economy it helps to create a tremendous gap within society between the "have's" and "have not's", which works to only divide Israeli / Jewish society and ensure that the rich continue to get richer and the poor stay poor.

The fact is that the supposed shortage of funs for Israel social welfare projects is not as a result of funds and energies invested in Jewish settlement throughout the Land of Israel, for which in a Jewish State, should be viewed as a national imperative, and for which no apologies or justifications should be necessary. The reason why there seems to be a shortage of funds is as a result of an unbalanced economy that stifles economic growth amongst the middle and lower classes. (This does not even begin to address the issue of economic corruption which can be found in the largest companies and the highest levels of government, where public money ends up in the pockets of the most powerful).

I am all for social justice and welfare in the Jewish State. I am also all for Jewish settlement throughout the Land of Israel. The two are not mutually exclusive. A just, fair and balanced Jewish economy would help to strengthen both.

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