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Summary of Editorials from the Hebrew Press

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Three papers discuss various issues related to the ongoing wave of socio-economic protests over – inter alia – housing prices and the cost-of-living: Yediot Aharonot says that "With all due respect to the achievements and the numbers, protests are measured by results and not by slogans. Despite the goodwill and the music of Shlomo Artzi, it was not ‘the people’ who went out into streets of Tel Aviv last night but only one tribe thereof. The ‘people’ want social justice but find it difficult to agree on what this means. For the middle class or for distressed neighborhoods? For young people who want normal prices so they can finish the month or for the down-and-out poor who can’t even start it?" The paper believes that the media has pushed and promoted the current protest campaign to the point where dissent is suspect. The author asserts that "The tents, the demonstrations, the philosophical discussions and even the policy fantasies are all a celebration of democracy. The problem with such celebrations is that there are always those who become intoxicated. The State of Israel needs to thank and embrace the initiators regardless of their political opinions. Personally, I hope that they all become active in voluntary organizations, they help make the Negev and the Galilee flourish, and that they enter politics on whatever side. As an Israeli, I hope that they understand quickly that to speak on behalf of the people, even when it is right, is dangerous." Ma’ariv claims that ‘In order to meet the demands, which are worth tens of billions of shekels, one would need to redo the budget, including cutting settlement budgets and assistance to the ultra-orthodox, or cutting the defense budget, For this to happen, there would have to be elections, the sooner the better. In the meantime, the coalition has no desire to change the status-quo." The author believes that even if one takes the foregoing into account, "The maximum budgetary maneuvering room is estimated at up to NIS 12 billion. This is a glass ceiling. If we dare go beyond this, we will all catch it." Yisrael Hayom says that "The Government did well not to listen to the voice of the protestors when the Knesset approved the national housing committees law but only on condition that construction starts actually be seen within a short time, that a reasonable number of apartments for young couples – especially discharged soldiers and national service graduates – at a reasonable price is assured, that indirect taxes go down, and that instead of raising direct taxes, that Benjamin Netanyahu go back to what he did as Finance Minister six and seven years ago and cut support payments to non-producers in the ultra-orthodox and Arab sectors." The author calls for dialogue between the Government and the protestors.The Jerusalem Post reflects on the death of Police officer Shlomi Asulin, who died last week after being stabbed with a screwdriver while apprehending a car thief more than four-and-a-half years ago, and criticizes the legal system for passing down lenient sentences on perpetrators while imposing strict sentences on police officers who act in the line of duty. The editor states that “A society that seeks to maintain law and order must ask itself who will protect it if the courts refuse to consider the special combat-like circumstances under which officers sometimes must make split-second life-and-death calls,” and opines that: “Policemen are anyway overworked and grotesquely underpaid. If, in addition, they feel thrown to the legal wolves, few are likely to make an effort or to take chances,” with dire consequences for all law-abiding citizens. The editor adds: “We will best remember Asulin by amending the law so that our defenders don’t remain defenseless.”Haaretz criticizes the bill for a new Basic Law establishing Israel as the ‘national home of the Jewish people,’ and states that this “effectively shatters Israel’s fragile definition as a Jewish, democratic state.” The editor states that “the things endangering the support of the nations of the world for Israel – and among marginal elements also the recognition of Israel as the national home for the Jewish people – are the occupation and the many blows to Israeli democracy,” and hopes that “before the bill is submitted to a vote, everyone will realize that the entire proposal is dangerous to democracy and would turn Israel into a place that is difficult to live in, not only for its Arab citizens but also for free, enlightened Jews

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