Maariv, once Israel’s highest-circulation daily paper, until yesterday was facing imminent closure. It was founded in 1948, three months earlier than the state of Israel. A group of journalists resigned from Yedioth Ahronoth, which had been going since the late 1930s, and set up Maariv as a co-operative. It billed itself as an open and independent paper, as opposed to its competitors, many of which were tied to political parties. Yedioth’s owners, the Mozes family, swore revenge for what they called ‘the putsch’. In the build-up to the 1967 war, Yedioth Ahronoth was freely distributed to the soldiers, and eventually it paid off: a decade later it overtook Maariv.
Binyamin Netanyahu recently paid for advertising space on Facebook: Dear citizen: In each and every generation they rise up against us to destroy us, but our enemies will fail. I invite you to join my Facebook page. Happy Passover. After this campaign, Netanyahu's page boasted ten times as many ‘Likes’ as that of Sheli Yechimovich, the leader of the Labor Party. But her staff revealed that only 17 per cent of them were from Israelis. More than half were from Americans, and 5000 were from admirers in Indonesia.
During Binyamin Netanyahu's visit to Eastern Europe in the summer, the governments of Romania and Bulgaria agreed not to vote in favour of the Palestinian state at the UN. Israel has since arranged several thousand work permits for Romanian and Bulgarian builders. This is supposedly a win-win deal that shows the creativity of the Netanyahu government (he also suggested replacing striking Israeli doctors with physicians from India). On the one hand, Israel wants to speed up cheap construction to solve its housing crisis. On the other, Romania and Bulgaria will earn foreign currency and reduce unemployment. The deal will also strengthen Israel's ties with Turkey’s European neighbours. When my grandfather Hezi Holdengerber arrived in Israel from Romania after the Holocaust, he and his brothers built roofs together. Now Jews work in construction only as bosses or engineers.
On 14 July, months before the first protesters camped out in Zuccotti Park, Israel’s version of Occupy Wall Street began when Daphni Leef, a 25-year-old filmmaker, found herself unable to pay her rent and pitched a tent on Rothschild Boulevard in central Tel Aviv. July 14th was the day the public conversation in Israel began to change. For decades Israeli politics had been stuck in an endless debate about the Palestinian issue, but while they quarrelled among themselves Israel’s citizens had failed to notice that a large part of Israel’s economy was now in the hands of 14 families. From being the most egalitarian country in the developed world, Israel had become the second most unequal one. But since the protests began, Jews and Arabs have been discovering solidarity and the welfare state.