Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Norwegian Activist, and the Tentsters for Socialism

1. Well, golly gee. The entire world media is suddenly denouncing
"terrorism." Not a single Norwegian government spokesman or newspaper
referred to the killer as an activist or a militant. This is the same
Norwegian government that has been lobbying for a Palestinian state
and condemns Israel whenever it uses force against terrorists.

CNN was suddenly using the "T" word. NY Times commentators were not
referring to the killer as a peace activist, whose grievances and
sense of justice forced him to turn to violence. European politicians
were not insisting that the shootings of the kids on the island were
protests against occupation. Israeli leftists were not insisting that
all the demands of the shooter be met in full. Shimon Peres was not
insisting that the shooter be given his own state before the really
violent Norwegian extremists nudge him aside. After all, there are no
military solutions to the problems of shootings of Norwegians.

The great irony is that the Norwegian attacks do not appear really to
be terrorism. They appear to be the acts of a mentally deranged
person, something like the Jonestown massacre. Certainly not
organized terrorism like the atrocities perpetrated by the
"Palestinians" so beloved by the Scandinavians. (Timothy McVeigh may
also be more correctly regarded as a madman than a terrorist.)

2. As you know, Israel recently passed a law allowing victims of
economic boycotts to sue the organizers of those boycotts in court for
damages. The Israeli Left is hysterical. The unelected
anti-democratic justices in the Israeli Supreme Court may soon try to
veto the law. The Israeli leftist media are denouncing the law in
totalitarian unison. Foreign Israel-bashers are denouncing the law as
creeping "fascism" in Israel.

All of which makes the following story even more delicious. It turns
out that a bill was submitted to the Knesset in 2006 that would
prohibit boycotts in Israel. The sponsor of that bill stated at the
time: "In the reality of modern life a boycott is an anachronism whose
only purpose is to advance narrow special interests, and to extort
public figures and coerce them into altering their decisions, and
whose aim is to harm public figures and private persons."

The sponsor of the bill in question and the proclaimer of that quote
was none other than Knesset Member Ophir Pines (pronounced "offer
penis"), one of the leaders of the Labor Party and a contender for
party leader and Prime Minister. He submitted the bill because at the
time some rabbis were talking about possibly boycotting some stores.
Ophir Pines-Paz, as he has recently been calling himself, thought it
was the height of democracy to prohibit boycotts.

Except that these days he and his party are leading the jihad AGAINST
the new Israeli law, which does exactly that. NOW these same people
insist that an anti-boycott law is anti-democratic and fascist. So
does the New Israel Fund, with which Pines has intimate ties. The New
Israel Fund of course has also been funding the leftwing NGOs
attempting to block the anti-boycott law and all other bills designed
to rein in Israel's foreign-funded subversive leftist NGOs.

3. Summers are often the silly season in Israel, and this summer the
silliest of all are the hordes of bored young Israelis, including
students waiting for the next semester and "youth movement" teenagers,
moving into tents in central Tel Aviv and in some other places,
ostensibly to "protest" the high prices of housing in Israel. It is
pretty obvious that the "tent cities" were inspired by the recent
boisterous "consumer boycott" against cottage cheese, launched after
the dairy cartel in Israel drove cheese prices sky high. The
"success" of the consumer boycott inspired the bored tent dwellers to
try to drive housing prices down with a similar loud media campaign
and with publicity stunts.

The problem is that the dairy cartel and the three producers of
cottage cheese know they are dependent on the government's
preservation of the anti-competitive structure in the dairy industry
in Israel, and so respond to public pressure and governmental threats
by cutting prices. But rental housing is a competitive market in
which 300,000 landlords lease out property. And competitive markets
could not care less about loud bored teenagers in tents or about
governmental threats to "investigate" and reform the market. The
government can scare the bejeebers out of the dairy cartel by
threatening to import cheese. No landlords can be scared with threats
to import apartment buildings.

Beyond that, the tent protests are just the latest illustration of the
gross idiocy that takes place whenever populists and demagogues in
Israel decide to get "socially aware and concerned." When public
figures in Israel start demanding action in the name of "social
justice," it is time to grab your wallet and race for the hills. The
tent protesters have already been co-opted by the Far Left, and the
New Israel Fund has been exposed as bankrolling the "protesters."
Non-leftists who had joined the tentsters in their first days, like
the Im Tirtzu students, have abandoned the "protests" after the role
of the Far Left there became clear.

Essentially the tent protesters are teenagers and older people whose
ideas never matured beyond those of teenagers, who continue to
fantasize about Israel becoming a utopia operating with 19th century
socialist "ideas." The more immediate demand of the "protesters" is
that they want rent controls. Yes, the same sorts of rent controls
that destroyed the housing stock of New York City and of all other
cities in which they have been implemented. (See,7340,L-4099043,00.html)

The protesters are quite candid about what they want. It seems they
cannot afford the rents in the most popular sections of Northern Tel
Aviv. And they insist that it is their "right" to live in those areas
at rents that they deem "affordable." This is a bit like college
students in America insisting that all apartments along Park Avenue in
Manhattan be rented to them at rents of $400 per month because this is
what they can afford. The fact that apartments on Park Avenue are
more likely to rent out at $10,000 per month is just proof of how
unjust society is and how important it is for the government to
control prices.

Now some reporters ask the protesters what is wrong with moving to the
more distant suburbs of Tel Aviv, where rents are much lower. Nothing
doing, respond the crusaders for social justice, all the cool pubs are
in Northern Tel Aviv. Really cynical reporters sometimes ask what is
wrong with moving to Ashkelon or Ashdod, where rents are REALLY low.
But we do not WANT to live so far away, respond the crusaders for
justice. We demand the right to live on Israel's version of Fifth
Avenue and cross streets in the 60s. Besides there is nothing worth
doing pub-wise in Ashdod.

Of course young crusaders who want to live CLOSER to the action can
live in very-cheap Lod and commute into pub-land in Northern Tel Aviv
in 10 minutes by train. But no, train commuting is beneath their

Oh, and about those impoverished young people living in the tents.
The tents were provided by the New Israel Fund. But the shiny brand
new cars in which they arrived at the tent cities were provided by
mommy and daddy. SO if mommy and daddy can buy junior cars, why can't
they also chip in for his rent and his tuition? I marvel weekly at
all the shiny new student cars jamming up my own campus when I arrive
at the same campus by bus.

Now the biggest problem of all for the junior crusaders for social
justice and their cheerleading squads in the Israeli media is their
refusal to take courses in basic economics. Those bellowing that
Israeli housing prices are "so high that no Israelis can afford them"
are missing the point that the housing prices are high precisely
BECAUSE so many Israelis can afford them, and THOSE Israelis are the
ones bidding the prices up! Part of the price surge is a reflection
of Bank of Israel policy that has been holding down interest rates as
macroeconomic policy during the recent world financial crisis. Every
Israeli can borrow oodles of shekels at really low interest rates and
bid for the housing. That policy was foolish, although nothing close
to the stupidity of the policy of Obama to spend a year's GDP worth of
wampum bailing out institutions and buying up toxic assets, so I guess
we should not be complaining too much.

If the demagogues in the Knesset decide to pander to the crusaders for
justice, they just might introduce rent controls, which will really
produce mass pauperization of Israelis and destruction of the housing
stock. Students now complaining about $1500 per month rents in Tel
Aviv will really have something to bitch about when those rents become

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