Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Editorial by Idan B. Jacobs/ "The people's Government, Not the Media's"

The Israeli's are a tough crowd to please, they are a public addicted to criticism, productive or not - it depends on the situation.

In a region that goes through turmoil, the Israeli administration that's elected in through free elections, despite of difficulties and coalition of various parties is stable. The Netanyahu government founded in 2009 lasts to this day despite of the attempts by the opposition to constantly attack it, without presenting any real case against it or something they could do different or better.

Since much has been said about the peace process (or the lack of it) I want to focus on the impact this government has on our daily life.

As governments around the world face a difficult economic situation, the Israeli economy is successful. Unemployment is low (the lowest in years) and the Shekel NIS currency gets stronger against the Dollar, It's true that living expenses here are high comparing to the US, but for all I know - this is the result of the indifference of people to the lack of competition in the market.

For once,the Israelis proved they can unite on for a consumer boycott: on Cottage cheese. Inspired by the Arab spring, it started in Facebook, as the price climbed to 8NIS, the boycott forced the dairy manufacturer "Tnuva" to reduce it to 4.55NIS.

But the people are not the only ones acting to help the little man on the street. Education minister Sa'ar had reached an agreement with the head of the teachers' union - raising teachers' salaries by about 50% promised they work 40 hours a week, an act that will make teaching a more profitable job and give pupils more hours.

Communication minister Kachlon had finally broken down the cellular market's cartel: by reducing call prices, canceling exit fees and adding two more companies (under a contract they have to reach a certain market share).

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz had worked out a bus reform in the center: instead of the division to tens of areas, we have 3: Tel Aviv and around, Rosh Ha'ain\Petah Tiqwa and Hasharon (the latter is where I live in), now you can change buses within 90 minutes without paying extra and the monthly tickets work in all companies (in fact it's loading a smart card that will also include the train).

Environment minister Gilad Erdan had advanced a campaign for garbage separation, beach preservation and passed a law forcing factories to recycle at least 60% of local or imported products' packages (and forbid their digging).

And finally, Finance minister Yuval Shtienitz has decided to implement the Sheshinksi committee recommendations on the newly discovered gas in the Mediterranean: to increase the state's portion of the incomes from what investors had found at sea - so the money is turned to improving the well-fair services for future generations.

All these actions are far from giving Israel the Western-Europe quality of life as it comes to services the country provides, but comparing this to the previous government, those are important steps in the right direction.

The ministers mentioned above are all Likud MK's, and of course the media won't be generous in kind words for them. It seems a lot like the newspapers and the TV stations set a dismal atmosphere for life in Israel, like it's the most catastrophic place on earth. I agree there's much to change and that a lot of people instead of going out to work or actually doing something for a living are addicted to reality shows, but you can't blame the government for that! It seems to me that a lot of the antagonism towards politics is a result of the media blackening situations for the people.

This is just a partial description of the reality I see on the street rather than the interpretation of the Media. It really depends what part you live in Israel, but I can tell you one thing - there is a feeling of change in the air.