October 24, 2004


Netanyahu Gets Tough to Transform Israel's Economy (GREG MYRE, Oct. 24, 2004, NY Times)

As Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushes to reshape Israel's economy, he makes a similar warning to almost everyone: expect to feel some pain.

Mr. Netanyahu, a former prime minister and potentially a future one, has spared no one during his 19 months in his current post.

But he says an improving Israeli economy justifies his tough approach.

He considers it his duty to prod the poor to find jobs and to battle strike-prone unions that he says are dragging down the economy.

He tells middle-class Israelis they will have to live with reduced state benefits and warns the country's largest companies to brace themselves for a more competitive marketplace.

He is even calling for a modest cut in military spending despite the continuing struggle against the Palestinian uprising. [...]

[M]r. Netanyahu and his backers say his approach has contributed to an economic growth rate projected at 4 percent this year, compared with a growth rate of 1 percent in 2003 and declines of 1 percent in 2002 and 2001.

Supporters also give credit to Mr. Netanyahu for substantial tax cuts, a stable currency, a sustained effort to chip away at the large public sector and improved domestic and international confidence in the economy.

American Jews would oppose him.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 24, 2004 10:09 AM

Well, they don't hate him as much as they do Sharon, since Bibi looked good on all those Nightline appearances with Ted Koppel back in the 1980s while Ariel was a fat ex-general who said a lot of un-PC things.

But Netanyahu was targeted by James Carville and much of the rest of Clinton's campaign team in the 1990s, when they helped get the Labor Party back into power (all the better to push along Palestinian state negotiations with Arafat that could earn you-know-who his own Nobel Peace Prize). So a return to power by Netanyahu would defenitely get the Democratic party activists over here up in arms, and they'll try and get the American Jewish community to see things their way as well, even if fewer in that group could tolerate a return to power by Labor if it meant playing nice again with Arafat.

Posted by: John at October 24, 2004 10:39 AM

No need to worry about Arafat. He has the flu.

When Bibi joined the government, he wanted the portfolio of Foreign minister. Sharon gave him Finance which was portrayed as a screwing. Bibi took it in hand and has done a great job. He has increased his ability to claim the PM's slot after Sharon retires because Israelis will be able to trust him to run the economy.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 24, 2004 6:07 PM

Actually history, (including Jewish history) began
in that area Senator Kerry wants to extricate us from; South of Nazeriyah just north of Basra)

Posted by: narciso at October 24, 2004 9:40 PM