Israeli libertarians lobby against big government

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 |  Ryan Jones

In the days following the summer's "social justice" demonstrations in Israel, the newly formed Israeli Freedom Movement (known in Hebrew as the New Liberal Movement) is finding traction amongst those of a free market and libertarian mindset.

The social justice movement - which was protesting the out-of-control cost of living in Israel today - was initially praised as an unprecedented act of legitimate dissent.

But as the summer dragged on, the social justice activists began to issue increasingly unreasonable demands, including calling for draconian government regulations and hinting none too subtley that they were entitled to expensive hand-outs at the taxpayers' expense.

It eventually got so bad that even many in Israel's socialist-minded press were deriding the activists for exploiting a real problem to issue unrealistic ultimatums.

A number of economists, including world-renowned Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, suggested already during the protests that opening up Israel to even greater market freedom was the true answer. But those wielding the slanderous phrase of "piggish capitalism" would hear none of it.

The truth is that the phrase is grossly misused in Israel, which as the Israeli Freedom Movement pointed out is actually a victim of "piggish socialism."

"The problem is that the government is overdoing things. It is deeply involved in every aspect of the market," Israeli Freedom Movement spokesman Boaz Arad told Israel National News.

"People are blaming piggish capitalism for their problems but this is a manipulation of public opinion. We don't have capitalism in Israel. We have a piggish socialism that controls every part of the Israeli market and blocks innovation," Arad explained.

According to Arad and others in the Israeli Freedom Movement, the solution "is to reduce the size of the government, to lower taxes and to establish a free market zone in Israel."

The Israeli Freedom Movement's website calls to Israelis who "thought you were stuck with socialism or communism" and encourages them that "from today free-minded people in Israel have a new home...the libertarian movement, the movement for an army of professionals to advance personal and financial freedom in [Israel]."

In addition to calling for more market competition by reducing the stifling bureaucratic process and taxes, the Israeli Freedom Movement wants to significantly shrink government in the Jewish state.

Israel needs "a small government with a small number of ministers...[resulting in] less corruption," while the needs of the poor (which the large corrupt government is ostensibly concerned with) are increasingly tended to by the public itself.

For the past couple of decades Israel has been at war with itself over whether to continue down the path of socialism (indeed, many want to make Israel even more of a welfare state), or to more effectively unleash the potential of Israel's tremendous human resources via a truly free market system.

The problem faced by those advocating the latter is that, as demonstrated at the social justice demonstrations, a large percentage of young Israelis have been raised to expect the state to care for all their needs, irrespective of where the tax revenues needed to cover those needs will come from.

As such, the Israeli Freedom Movement's first major task is going to be reeducating as many young Israelis as possible.

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