Budget Blah Blah
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should really put an end to the constant bickering between the Treasury and the Ministry of Defense over the defense budget. Bibi should sit down with Stenitz and Barak, come up with a compromise, decide on a budget, implement it, and shut them up. As things stand now, Israelis are bombarded every day with media reports of savage accusations and recriminations between the ministers of defense and finance. Every Tuesday and Thursday [and twice on Sundays] the ministry of defense says it has no money, so it’s going to cut back on training, cut back on weapons procurements, cut back on important R&D. The MOD and the army accuse the Finance Ministry, who is demanding a defense budget slash and more transparency and efficiency in the MOD, of playing with Israelis’ lives, of irresponsibly placing the country’s security at risk, especially now, when things are so uncertain. The Treasury, for its part, responds every Tuesday and Thursday [and twice on Sundays] that the MOD is using scare tactics to extort more money from the nation’s coffers. Barak and Steinitz are locked in an ego battle over whose boss.
Enough is enough. Instead of boosting our confidence as the war clouds gather, the government is undermining our confidence.
This is not what Israelis want to hear now. Now as our region implodes, political Islam rises, our trading partners in Europe sink, and war with Iran looms, what Israelis want to hear is that our soldiers are being trained, that our army has the necessary tools to get the job done, any and every job done; that our economy is sound, and is growing steadily and slowly; that our pensions are safe, and that our ministries are working in harmony toward a common goal: strengthening our tiny, beleaguered nation and keeping her safe and prosperous.
That’s what we want to hear. And that’s what Netanyahu should get done. That’s the balance that the PM needs to strike between security needs and budget constraints. Set a budget, and shut everybody up. Work it out, so that they can get to work, instead of making us feel as if there is no captain at the helm. The current spectacle of an army refusing to accept the budget imposed on it by the Finance Ministry [because it's unrealistic and doesn't take into account the changing nature of the region] and the Finance Ministry refusing to accept that the army refuses to accept the budget – has to end now. In a democracy, the army does what the government tells it to do, not the other way round. But in a democracy with unique and acute security challenges, the army has to know that it has a supportive government who understand security and who gives it the financial backing it needs.
Right now, with both sides left to their own devices, there is no money, and there is no security. And that keeps us up at night. The army has cancelled the home front defense drill planned for later in the year. This is wrong. Israelis are worried about the consequences of massive rocket attack on cities should there be a fight with Iran. We need this drill, badly. And we need a new minister for home front defense to be named, immediately – as the last one has upped and left us in the lurch.
So Mr. Prime Minister, it’s time to get involved. Fix this, it’s what we pay you for.