Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich Did a winning round of interviews this week. I listened to his words. It was impossible not to be impressed by the self-confidence, the eloquence, the juggling of quotes and numbers that he spewed out at a dizzying rate of fire. The only problem is that all of this is completely disconnected from the actual economic reality.
Smotrich attacks Lapid: “On what basis are you calling to stop the operation?”
Smotrich’s brother against “Otzma Yehudit”: “I will not vote again for the party that Ben Gvir is a member of”
Smotrich is convinced that the spats that the Israeli economy is now absorbing across the entire front are blessings. The International Monetary Fund cut the growth forecast for the Israeli economy directly because of the dangers of the legal coup, and Smotrich ignores it. They don’t know the reform at all, he says. At this time last year, the International Monetary Fund poured a huge basket of flowers and praises on the Israeli economy which presented the best performance in the world, the positive flow in the world, the lowest inflation in the world and a real chance of getting a credit rating upgrade to the best level in the world.
All this passed like nothing, dissolved in the disordered coup d’état that Smotrich and his government tried to foist upon us. Along the way, it turns out (from a report by the chief economist at the Treasury) that the situation with the ultra-Orthodox is getting worse. The number of ultra-Orthodox who are unable to hold a conversation in English, who do not qualify for matriculation or a minimum general education, is increasing. Smotrich and his government know the numbers, and despite the destruction they predict, continue to encourage the ultra-Orthodox to idle, instead of working.
Bezalel Smotrich is a very talented man. One should pray and hope that someday he will wake up from the messianic delusions and be free to understand the real situation. Yes, he is an extreme right-winger, an ideologue of the Halacha state and quite a racist, but I want to believe and pray that at the end of the day he will not want to be signed to destruction. At the current rate at which things are progressing, this signature will be there sooner than expected.
The longer the uncertainty surrounding the coup d’état continues, the greater the damage. Investors continue to flee, high-tech companies continue to register abroad, large banks continue to attract investments, international conferences continue to be canceled, people plan relocations, and the confidence of the global economy in the startup nation that is becoming a third world country is rapidly collapsing. It can still be saved. it’s time.-
Therefore, the protest must not be stopped. The question is, what do we do with it? The initial and main goal of the protest is to block the legislation related to the coup d’état. Its secondary goals are building the democratic-liberal camp for the medium and long term and in the future also taking actions to strengthen our fragile democracy. I am convinced that a significant part of the hundreds of thousands of protestors would also be happy to overthrow the government, but that is not what they flocked to the streets for. Currently, the protest has succeeded in damaging the government’s legitimacy, damaging its public status, but not overthrowing it. This is the role of the opposition.-
In the meantime, the protest has to maneuver in a difficult situation of negotiations at the President’s residence. Netanyahu wants to turn these discussions into the modern version of the Trachtenberg Committee. Lapid, Gantz and Saar sit there unable to escape. They don’t want to be guilty of exploding the contacts, but they know that Netanyahu’s goal is to text the protest and this is a Pethaiim trap. so what are we doing?
The tension between the leaders of the protest and the leaders of the opposition is increasing. It is not easy to keep such a huge protest on a small fire. This is an expensive operation, NIS 2-3 million per week, funded by donations from the citizens, but also from many businessmen who are involved in the fight for democracy (and that’s a good thing). So how do you deal with the success so far, and the danger of decline in the future? A complex question. The intention is to keep the elite units of the protest in constant activity (brothers in arms, mm, cyber, pilots, reservists, hightkists, etc.), to call the public only when necessary. Right now, the demonstrations last at least until the end of May. Then we’ll see.
Right now, there’s no reason to be bitter. The current protest is the largest in Israel’s history and one of the most successful. In fact, apart from the public protest started by Moti Ashkenazi after the Yom Kippur War, there was no protest with such a dramatic achievement of stopping legislation at the last minute, preventing the dismissal of the Minister of Defense and changing the public agenda from end to end.
There is no reason to panic and broadcast distress. The incredible energy that erupted into the streets is not going anywhere. These great Israelis, who went out en masse to fight for their country, will go out again the second it becomes clear that someone is trying to put them to sleep in order to inject the poison shot into the body of democracy.
The full column is published in “Maariv Sophashavu”