Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

19 Shevat 5764 - February 11, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Interview with Degel HaTorah Chairman MK Rabbi Avrohom Ravitz
by Betzalel Kahn

How do you sum up Netanyahu's first year as Finance Minister?

A bad year for Am Yisroel. I don't know whether Netanyahu is the guilty party. But from an economic standpoint this has been a bad year. If his plan does indeed prove itself and brings economic growth to Am Yisroel in spite of the pains we are all going through, then it will be possible to see how the positive balances against the negative.

At the moment, despite all sorts of statements, I do not see the buds of growth. This is based on dealing with such negligible numbers that I do not think they herald the arrival of spring. Even the stronger strata are not at ease. They are also waiting for growth. For the weaker strata it affects day-to-day living. The stronger strata do not suffer from a lack of eggs at the grocery store on a day-to-day basis. They go to the supermarket where there is abundance.

How do you explain the fact Netanyahu is relatively popular in the opinion polls compared to his predecessor, Silvan Shalom?

Who remembers Netanyahu's predecessor? The man in the street does not really remember much and whether Silvan was better or worse than he. Polls are an emotional expression of what takes place today. But comparisons cannot be made with yesterday because polls can be explained in all sorts of manners. It does not mean the economy really is better. It means the public hopes the economy is better. Polls do not presume to be objective truth.

Maybe the public thinks that despite the hardships he is running the economy correctly?

That could be. He certainly does purport that to be the case saying, "Indeed times are tough, but soon I'll be bringing salvation," and people love to hear that, for it provides hope. We can ask why there is a better attitude toward one person over another, and then we have to begin to understand people's inner workings, mass psychology and all of the elements that go into liking one person over another.

In practice Netanyahu makes so many promises, and when someone receives a promise he feels great. When it appears in the paper it seems all will be fine. But the next day this promise is gone without a trace. Perhaps this is how one must operate in economics, to inflate hopes and run a painful economy.

And why does he do this?

He needs popularity to provide a certain defense. For survival. Unfortunately I don't see any connection between the popularity he receives, and he definitely is popular, and the plan he and the government are now promoting. United Torah Jewry MKs publicized many achievements that have been reached, but despite all this the entire party felt that pledges are one thing and deeds are another. Therefore it submitted a no-confidence voice in the government based on promises that were not kept. Promises were made and nothing was carried out.

What is your opinion of Netanyahu's economic program one year after its implementation began?

There are two ways to judge an economic program: it can be judged theoretically, in which case it could be said this is a good program. But it must [also] be judged in practice, how it affects people, whether they can and need to suffer from a plan that looks good on paper, and how much they can take. So the problem is that an economic plan is not a class held at the university, but a lesson in life, and the challenge is to find the balance between the two, between the theoretical and the impact on life itself.


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