Saturday, December 03, 2005

who really cares about social justice?

As perhaps you could tell from reading my blog, both my religious and political views aren’t typical, particularly for someone in my “sector”. They tend to be a bit complex/mixed up. Well, my socio-economic views aren’t much more normal.

For a number of reasons I should be on the left of the socio-economic spectrum:

  1. I grew up in a typical liberal Jewish family in America, always supported Democrats over Republicans

  2. I lived in such cities as San Francisco and Boston

  3. I am a believer in the classic ideology of Torah V’Avoda, as espoused by R’ Shmuel Chaim Landau (Shachal) and R’ Yeshaya Shapiro (HaAdmor HeChalutz), which is very socialist in nature

  4. After making aliya, I lived on kibbutz for four years – a kibbutz which still strongly follows the original ideology of kibbutz (very little privatization)

So why are my economic views so far to the right in Israel? Why do I support nearly every economic move by Netanyahu? Why am I so disgusted with Amir Peretz? Don’t I care about the poor? What about social justice?

Well, first of all, many people in this country, particularly Western immigrants can’t stand the Histadrut. We know about the organization primarily through strikes that affect our lives in ways that we have no control over. They can paralyze public institutions, but have no accountability for their actions. (Did you know there’s no Hebrew word for accountability?)

But after working for the past few years in a government office, I’ve come to realize something more. It’s not just about being annoyed by having no banks service, airport or garbage removal. I don’t believe that the Histadrut is interested in social justice at all. The highest paid workers in Israel work for the public utilities like the Electric Company, Mekorot (water), the ports, etc. Why? Because they have the strongest ability to strangle the country. But if Amir Peretz and the Histadrut really cared about social justice, why don’t they demand that the Electric Company workers take a big pay cut to help out the poor? That teachers get free electricity instead of them?

No, Amir Peretz never made any of these kinds of important demands. Never will. In fact, I can’t think of a difficult decision, an unpopular (unpopulist) stance he’s ever taken. Which means he’s not a politician I could ever support. Whether you agree with them or not, Ariel Sharon, Shimon Peres, Bibi Netanyahu, Tommy Lapid, Zevulun Orlev and Benny Elon have all taken positions that weren’t popular with their electorate, but they did it because they knew it was right. Even at the cost of political risk. That’s called leadership. Without leadership, there’s no chance of achieving real social justice. The opposite of leadership? Opportunism. And that’s exactly what Amir Peretz is all about.