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Israelis deserve more from their leaders

We deserve thought-out policies that can bring an end to the current cycle of violence and prevent the next.

By Ilan Manor

Henry Ford once said that thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it. Over the past few days, some Israelis have felt that their elected officials in the Knesset have given up on thinking all together. First came the revelation that our elected representatives in the Knesset approved the state budget in a preliminary vote without even having the opportunity to read it and understand what they were voting on. This was followed by a legislative committee decision to approve a proposal allowing first-time apartment buyers to take out mortgages for up to 90 percent of the value of the apartment, despite the role such irresponsible loans played in the devastating 2008 financial crisis.

Yet it was the reaction of three senior members in the Netanyahu government to last week’s horrid murder of four men in a Jerusalem synagogue that truly demonstrates the intellectual paralysis that has spread through the Israeli leadership.

Israeli emergency services volunteers remove blood, according to Jewish tradition, from the scene of an attack by two Palestinians against Jewish worshippers at a synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Har Nof in West Jerusalem, November 18, 2014. Two Palestinians armed with guns, a meat cleaver and knives burst into a Jerusalem synagogue and killed four Israelis before being shot dead by Israeli forces. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli emergency services volunteers remove blood, according to Jewish tradition, from the scene of an attack by two Palestinians against Jewish worshippers at a synagogue in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Har Nof in West Jerusalem, November 18, 2014. Two Palestinians armed with guns, a meat cleaver and knives burst into a Jerusalem synagogue and killed four Israelis before being shot dead by Israeli forces. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The first to offer a solution to the escalating cycle of Palestinian violence was Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich, who proposed easing gun permit regulations enabling more Israelis to carry arms in the streets, including former IDF officers and veterans of elite army units.

Aharonovich’s policy, even if limited to IDF veterans, is sure to achieve one thing: more violence. The fact that lax gun ownership regulations actually decrease general safety has been proven time and again. America’s schools, university campuses and cities are far more dangerous than Israeli or European ones given the fact that Americans have the right to bear arms and purchase semi-automatic weapons in department stores. Distributing weapons to a society that suffers from a collective form of PTSD and is in constant fear of its impending doom is counterproductive to say the least. Not to mention the fact that the Public Security Ministry actually contemplated making gun ownership regulations more strict following a reported increase in domestic violence.

The second minister to offer a solution to last week’s terror attack was Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who called for the immediate demolition of the terrorists’ homes. Unlike Lapid, and the line of other officials who came up with the same demand, there are those who have contemplated the effectiveness of this measure. Two IDF special commissions, one assembled in 2003 and another in 2005, found that demolishing terrorist’s homes only increases hatred towards Israel and actually leads to more terror attacks. The commissions, therefore, recommended that Israel avoid taking such measures in the future. But what does the IDF know about security when compared to former television news anchor Lapid?

Finance Minister Yair Lapid in the Knesset, July 29, 2013 (Photo: Tali Mayer/ Activestills.org)

Finance Minister Yair Lapid in the Knesset, July 29, 2013 (Photo: Tali Mayer/ Activestills.org)

Finally, it was Prime Minister Netanyahu who stated last week that what Israel needs in these difficult times is a national unity government consisting of parties from Israel’s left and right wings. It is unclear why in a time when most Israelis expect action rather than words the prime minister would propose to form a government that would no-doubt be characterized by inaction — one that would be unable to agree on any course of action, carry out decisions or successfully contend with the cause of Palestinian violence.

Israelis deserve more than half-baked ideas and knee jerk reactions from their elected leadership. They deserve meticulously thought-out policy that can bring an end to the current cycle of violence and prevent the next. A policy that hopefully will be based on a return to the negotiating table.

But thinking, as Ford said, is hard work which is probably why so few of our leaders engage in it.

Ilan Manor is finishing his MA studies in Communication at Tel Aviv University. He has previously contributed to the 972 Magazine, the Jewish Daily Forward and Haaretz. He blogs at www.digdipblog.com

Related:
Five killed in attack on Jerusalem synagogue
Punitive home demolitions are racist — and just plain wrong
Welcome to Netanyahu’s ‘resolution’ to the conflict

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    COMMENTS

    1. The Trespasser

      “Israelis deserve more from their leaders”

      For a long, long time I haven’t heard anything THAT idiotic.

      Elect another leaders so you’d get more, bloody dumbass.

      Reply to Comment
      • Weiss

        For once the Fascist is right.

        Any other “leader ” selected besides Satanyahoo would be as bloodthirsty if not MORE so…

        El Al Airlines business is down 82%

        This is what annexation and Sado-masochistic domination of the Palestinians causes.

        People simply do not feel safe visiting such a place.

        Special thanks to the Parlimentary system in Israel where citizens elect Parties… Not People, because there are NO direct elections in Israel

        And yet another reason why I am Ashamed to be Jewish

        Reply to Comment
      • Bryan

        There is absolutely nothing wrong with the status quo, is there, Trespasser? Well yes there certainly is. All countries deserve better leaders, but especially America, Russia and Israel, but it is pointless simply to express an aspiration – concrete measures are necessary, but it doesn’t take a genius to see what is required. In Israel, this would include constitutional reform, less secrecy, properly secured rights, including stronger legislation against racial incitement, greater use of expert commissions to review legislation,more sensitive policing, including a rigorous police complaints system, greater civilian control of the military, improved education, a more diverse media, proper separation of church and state, etc. Perhaps applying to join the European Union would bring more transparency and pluralism, and bring Israel within the orbit of twentieth century.

        Reply to Comment
    2. The violent extremists will get exactly what they deserve; unfortunately, so will everyone else.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Whiplash

      Readers deserve better than that which 972mag writers serve up to their readers. This 972mag writer understands little about parliamentary processes or the housing and financial markets. For instance he lambasts the government committee which approved high ratio loans of 90% for first time home buyers. He indicates that such a provision is irresponsible since such loans were partly responsible for the 2008 financial crisis. How little he understands.

      In Canada we have had high ratio housing loans for 60 years. In Canada it is possible to borrow 95% of the purchase price of a new home. Yet these high ratio mortgages did not cause a financial crisis in 2008 in Canada. What caused the crisis in other markets was the making of loans to individuals who did not reasonably qualify for loans or who did not have the ability to service the debt for the length of the mortgage. These bad loans were then insured, repackaged sold and traded and traded against on the derivative markets.

      In Canada the banks, the default insurers and regulatory authorities all observe the most simple rule of loans, do not lend money to people who do not qualify for loans. When Canadian banks repackage mortgage loans and sell them to other financial investors the investment is secure because the proper loan lending policies were followed. Default issuers then and subsequent investors do not face ruin having bought rooten apples as investments.

      972mag writers regularly bemoan that the Israeli government does nothing to improve the life of the middle class. Along comes a law to improve the most basic need of human existence, accommodation in which to raise your family, and 972mag is slamming the government.

      High ratio loans properly lent are a boon to both capitalist and socialists. Lower middle class and the middle class can afford to buy and pay affordable loans over a long period of time, usually at a substantial lower cost than renting similar accommodation. Property developers build more, builders earn more and more people are employed in the housing sector. It is a win win situation if done right.

      Reply to Comment
      • The writer may not be an expert in finance and mortgage rates but the Israeli Finance Ministry and the Bank of Israel are. Both bodies were against the proposed bill stating that it would lead to a real estate bubble, harm the Israeli economy and may even lead to a sub-prime crisis such as the one that hit the US during 2008. Prior to the vote last week, the Israel Finance Ministry called on the MKs to reject the proposal in its entirety.

        Reply to Comment
    4. Yeah, Right

      “Israelis deserve more from their leaders”

      No, it doesn’t.

      Israelis claim that they live in a democracy, in which case Israelis elect exactly the leadership that they deserve.

      So sorry, but if you throw the keys to the Clown Car to Netanyahu then there’s not much point shouting “But! But! He’s a clown!”

      Yeah, he is.

      If that’s such a problem then why did you get yourself a Clown Car, and why do you insist on handing him the keys?

      After all, you’ve done it three times now, and it won’t be any different when it happens the fourth time.

      Reply to Comment