A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
July 16, 2012- Clinton in Israel, Likud Kadima Partnership Coming to an End? Public Housing Takes Center Stage in Social Protest Movement.
US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is visiting Israel. There is an old joke about two Jews having three different opinions. That was very much what it felt like listening to the news tonight in Israel. Here are several different reports: Clinton’s current trip was an important visit aimed at stopping Israel from attacking Iran. Alternatively, Clinton came to Israel since she was in Egypt anyway, and felt in an election year it would be impolitic not to stop here. Or, again, Israel is likely to attack Iran between the end of August and mid-October. Or, it might be that is not the case, and Israel has decided to give the US more time to act after the election. Every correspondent was sure of his sources and sure of his point of view. I am sure the average Israeli citizen is totally confused. I know I am. If you are looking for further enlightenment from me tonight, I am not sure I can provide it. I know what I would or would not do– especially if the latest leaked assessment is right– that an Israeli strike would only put the Iranian program back one year. That being said, to guess what our current government would do? I am clueless. If you want some insight, read David Horowitz’s analysis: The Unspoken secret at the heart of US-Israel Coodrination on Iran
The confusion continues, as to the future of the Likud/Kadima partnership. It's now clear that no agreement will be reached. The Likud has decided to go with the Haredim. Now it is up to Shaul Mofaz to keep his promise to leave the coalition. He likes being deputy Prime Minister, but according to Israel Channel 10 news, he plans to leave the coalition tomorrow. Of course, another correspondent, for the same network, stated earlier in the evening that Mofaz was trying to find a way to remain in the coalition. So I guess we will see tomorrow.
At this Saturday night's rally a man set himself on fire. I am glad I left early and was not there for that terrible sight. However, his actions have spurred more than the usual self- examination, as well as, renewing the call for solving the problem of the need for public housing. Last night a small group held a demonstration at Amidar, the public housing authority. I happened to pass by the protest on my way home from the bus station. I actually had the chance to have a long conversation with the leader to this protest. She was an impressive woman who seems to care passionately about the poor, and particularly the homeless. We chatted about the need for the social protest movement to find simple themes that the public could identify with. However she kept coming back to the need to do something about public housing and the fact that somebody had to concentrate on that problem.
The protest leader also said something that, at the time, I did not understand. She stated that money for public housing should not be given to the Jewish Agency. Tonight I found out what she was talking about. It seems a law was passed, a little over ten years ago, for Amidar and other public housing entities to sell their apartments to the tenenats who had been in them for many years. Under the law, the money received through those sales was supposed to be used to build new public housing. Instead, what happened is that the apartments were sold and 3 billion shekels was collected. Though then the Knesset, in what is called "Chok Hahesderim" (a midnight session where money is reallocated without any controls) decided not to spend the revenues on new public housing. They chose but to give 1 billion shekel to the Jewish agency, some money to west bank settlements, and rest of the money was allocated for "other circumstances". The result, no new public housing has been built in years.