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Straight Talk on Israel

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What's true of Europe applies to Israel and much more. Bauman had his say. Haaretz discussed him.

He has family in Israel. He once lived there. He was briefly a citizen. He taught at Tel Aviv University and the University of Haifa. Since then, he said, Israelis "expressed their approval of high-handedness over high-mindedness."

They "vot(ed) into power people who made sure that peaceful Israeli-Palestinian coexistence is not in the cards."

He last visited 20 years ago. He'll return briefly. He accepted an invitation from the Ruppin Academic Center (RAC) and Israel Sociological Society (ISS). 

On February 18, he addressed ISS' annual conference. He discussed inequality in Israel. More on that below.

Sociologist Yehouda Shenhav said he wants "to return sociology to morality and morality to sociology." He "seeks the moral and political sociologist." 

He's a "sociologist who does not frequent the corridors of power, who critiques war as immoral, who is not infected by the nationalist militancy that pervades his country, and who assails the disintegration of the welfare state, xenophobia, and the instrumentalization of the social discourse."

Bauman strongly criticizes neoliberal harshness. He disputes commonly held trickle down notions.

"One of the widely used moral justifications for free-market economics is that the pursuit of individual profits also provides the best mechanism for the pursuit of common good," he said.

"This has, however, been cast in doubt and all but belied by a rising tide of research findings and official statistics documenting the fast-growing distance that separates those at the top from those at the bottom of the social hierarchy."

"In jarring opposition to political pronouncements intended to be recycled into popular belief, the wealth amassed at the top of society has blatantly failed to 'trickle down' and make the rest of us richer, make us feel more secure and more optimistic about our and our children's future, or make us happier."

"Almost everywhere in the world the rich, and particularly the very rich, are getting richer, whereas the poor, and particularly the very poor, are getting poorer - most certainly in relative, but in a growing number of cases, also in absolute terms." 

"Moreover, people who are rich get richer just because they are rich. People who are poor get poorer just because they are poor."

"Nowadays, inequality continues to increase by its own logic and momentum. It needs no more help or kick from outside - no outside stimuli, pressures or blows." 

"Social inequality seems ever closer to becoming the first perpetuum mobile, which after innumerable failed attempts humans have finally managed to invent and set in motion."

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.
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