As Israel's economy shrinks and a $4 billion dollar deficit is forecast for 2013, Israel has hard budgetary choices to make. Of all those possible choices – cutting welfare payments and subsidies to haredim and subsidies to West Bank settlements – make the most economic and moral sense. The haredim contribute the least of any Jewish group to Israeli society and to the economy and Israel's defense, and the settlements are a tremendous drain on resources, have raised a generation of shockingly radical extremists, and are very unpopular with most Israelis. But Israel's right and center-right politicians will probably not make any significant cuts to those budgets for craven political and ideological reasons. So who will suffer in the end? Israel's elderly, its poor, its homeless, its chronically ill. They will pay with their bodies and even with their lives for haredi freeloading and Zionist Orthodox extremism.
Yoel Esteron, the publisher of Israel’s Calcalist business daily, writes in Ynet:
…Some believe that we can have it all. They seem think that the government can carve off a juicy hunk of funding [to give to] the army but also [meet] its $4 billion fiscal deficit abyss forecasted for next year.
They believe that Israel can develop its infrastructures and improve education and schooling at the same time, and while we're at it – abolish social inequality. They want to eat their budgetary cake and have it too.
That is, without trimming so much as an iota off the behemoth budgets for settlements and the ultra-Orthodox sector.
Sorry, no can do.
It might work for election campaign speeches but it ain't how the real world works, because when it comes to economics you can’t have it all for everyone. There're only so many resources to go around.
It's okay to believe that the Judea and Samaria settlement enterprise outweighs other national priorities. So just say it out loud and clear and pave yet another road in Samaria instead of the light rail in Tel Aviv.
It's also okay to believe that yeshiva students immersed in the aura of the Torah are more important than all the rest of us. So just say it out loud and clear and we'll nix research budgets for the sake of yet more funding for yeshivot and kollelim.
But just don’t try to tell me they can all fit snuggly into the tight budgetary bundle.
Whoever declares that we can have it all is either willing to lie for the sake of the State, as former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir professedly did, a cynic who is willing to say whatever sounds best, or just a fraud.
Either way, this isn't economics – it's deception.…