The first episode of Magash Hakesef (Silver Platter) features editor of financial newspaper The Marker, Guy Rolnik. In the episode, Rolnik discusses the impact that financial and media concentration has on Israel’s economy, as well as how a number of interest groups are limiting the growth of the middle class.
- Despite the average monthly wage being only $2,713 in Israel compared to $3,874 in Australia, Israelis pay more for everything from eating out and housing costs to basic utilities and clothes. Why is it so hard to introduce more competitive pricing to the Israeli market?
- Why do you think the technology start-up sector has been one of the big exceptions and success story in the Israeli economy?
- The Silver Platter was watched by over 1.5 million viewers, 19% of the population. An increasing number of Israelis live in overdraft, unable to afford the basics in life such as housing, transportation and even food despite working longer hours than the average Australian. If you were working so hard and were unable to pay your bills what would you be forced to cut back on?
The second episode of Magash Hakesef features Yaron Zelekha, Israel’s former Accountant-General, and a former economic adviser to Prime Minister Netanyahu. In the episode, Zelekha looks at how a lack of competition is driving up prices, how government policies meant to improve the lives of Israelis in the periphery have instead lined the pockets of Israel’s 1%, and the impact of corruption on Israel’s economy.
- A number of high profile Israeli politicians have been found guilty of corruption, bribery, and misusing funds, including former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Despite these attempts to rein in corruption, Israel continues to slide compared to other countries worldwide. What could Israel be doing to stop this worrying downward trend?
- 40 years ago Israel and Sweden were the most equitable states in the Western world. Today Israel has one of the highest poverty rates in the Western world. One in three Israeli children live below the poverty line. Which groups of children do you think are most represented in this number? How do you think this will impact Israeli society in the future?
- In this episode we learn that Ultra-Orthodox and Arab participation in the workforce increased over the last decade. What else can be done to bring in these two marginalised sectors and integrate them more deeply into Israeli society?
- Do you think a country’s natural resources belong to the people or to the companies that develop them? Under Israel’s gas agreement royalties are amongst the lowest in the world at only 12.5%. A few years ago Australia repealed its Mineral Resource Rent Tax, resulting in significantly lower mining taxes. The loss of millions of dollars in tax income means both countries have less resources to provide social services. Where would you invest this “lost income”, education, healthcare, housing, disability services, age pension, etc. Why are these large companies able to exert so much influence over the political system?
The third episode of Magash Hakesef features Dani Guttwein, a professor of the Jewish people at Haifa University. In the episode, Guttwein looks at how Israel transitioned from a welfare state to a neoliberal economy and how West Bank settlements are receiving far more government investment than poor towns inside Israel proper.
- If Likud had not come to power in 1977 do you think Israel would still be a social democratic state today - like Finland? Why? Why not?
- Today Israel is ranked 66th in terms of equality - behind India. Do you think these inequities will continue to grow under the current economic policies or will they stabilise? Improve?
- Israeli governments have offered financial incentives to settle across the Green Line which significantly helped the settler population grow. If Israel wants to work to minimise inequalities between different populations it needs to allocate budgets based on economic not political principles. How can these populations advocate more effectively for a more just distribution of resources?
- What is the impact of incentives the government provides the settlement movement on the hopes for a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians? Do such investments make it easier or harder for Israel to withdraw from some settlements and end the conflict?