So what’s changing in Israel?

I was speaking to a top advertising exec this week in London. To summarise his question:

A democracy based on strict proportional representation, producing continuous minority governments. Nuclear threats from Iran. Hamas and Hizbollah constantly probing. The Palestinians launching a diplomatic initiative at the UN. How do Israelis cope?

That’s point. Somehow, Israel and Israelis do continue jogging along. The economy is sailing along, even if growth has fallen back to 3.3% per annum. Tourism is at a record high. 28 hightech / internet companies will take part at the International Broadcast Convention in Amsterdam.

And yet, and yet…..Something has happened in Israeli society. It has not been just another hot summer.

First, hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets in demonstrations against the social policies of successive governments. Years of growth may be fine on paper. Unemployment may be at a record low. But as this “triumph” has come at a cost of continually squeezing the nebulous middle classes, there has come a point in time when people have said “enough”.

It will be a brave person to say exactly what will be different. And I am not referring to some cosmetic changes in tax codes or cheaper housing for young families. For possibly the first time since 1982, a social movement has exploded out of nowhere and without any control from the established political leadership.

At the very least, politicians of most persuasions are going to have to spend some time listening and understanding to what is going on. They will not be able to carry out one of their basic functions of leading from the front, but they are going to have to be “reactive”. They are being called on to “respond” in full to the call for change.

Where that will take the country is anybody’s guess. A ‘dash’ back to the past of 1977 shows that some social movements may start with a bang but they can fizzle out.

As for the diplomatic front, the aftershocks of the Arab Spring are coming in to play. Following the fall of Mubarak, the Egyptian border is looking tragically porous. With Assad in trouble, intelligence reports indicate that Hizbollah and Iran are trying to support his position. And for all his gesturing over demanding UN recognition, the position of Abbas as leader of the Palestinians is clearly unclear.

The geopolitical map is moving again. And just as interestingly, in parallel, so is the socio-economic foundation of Israel.

It is time for American Presidential hopefuls and European decision makers to recognise that somebody has moved Israel’s cheese.

Explore posts in the same categories: Business, Israel

Tags: , , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: