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Israel's Neoliberal Hammer Strikes

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Israel's Neoliberal Hammer Strikes

Money power runs Israel

by Stephen Lendman

In America and across Europe, austerity is official policy. It's also true in Israel. 

Among developed countries, America, Britain, and Israel are the most socially unjust. Street protests rail against public policy. Favored corporations and rich elites alone benefit. Most Jews suffer, Israeli Arabs most of all.

Worse ahead is planned. Growing needs and public anger are ignored. On July 30, Israel's cabinet approved sweeping budget cuts and tax hikes on top of earlier ones imposed. More are planned next year. Ordinary Israelis feel it most. Neoliberal policies demand it.

Surprisingly, Israel's defense budget wasn't spared. Defense spending will be NIS (New Israeli Shekel) 100 million less (about four shekels = one dollar).

Israel budgets NIS 60 billion for defense. It's nearly 17% of total spending. Combined with intelligence and other security priorities, it's much more. Israel spends far more per capita than European countries. 

Like America, it's a modern-day Sparta. Defense, homeland security, settlement construction, and corporate favoritism are prioritized of over social needs. Occupation related spending exceeds healthcare and education budgets combined.

NIS 100 million hardly matters. Nonetheless, an uproar followed announced cuts. IDF officials called them "childish and ridiculous." They want more, not less. They'll get plenty because it's planned. Washington supplies billions more annually. 

Nonetheless, national security is compromised, they claim. How they didn't explain. Israel maintains the region's strongest military yet has no enemies except ones it creates.

On August 6, Knesset members approved measures Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz proposed. Netanyahu endorsed them. Agreement came after both leaders agreed to modest tax hike easing. 

Effective September 1, value added taxes (VAT) rise from 16 - 17%. Israelis will pay more for cigarettes and beer effective immediately.

Earlier tax cuts for the rich cut revenues NIS 40 billion. Ordinary Israelis bear the burden in what they pay. Now it's more. Top tax rates remain unchanged at 48%. 

Loopholes let many pay less. It always works that way. Israel replicates the worst of America, Britain and other Western societies. Wealth differentials grow exponentially. Ordinary people face harder times to get by. Repeated budget cuts impose greater harshness. Where it ends, who knows.

Tax increases are expected to raise revenues by NIS 7.5 billion. Income taxes are high. Rich Israelis find ways around them. A last minute agreement was reached. A planned 1% hike won't apply to workers making less than NIS 14,000 a month (around $3,500).

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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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