Minister of Finance Yair Lapid has attacked emigrants who left Israel for Berlin because of Israel’s high cost of living. Lapid was responding to a Channel 10 report about young Israelis who left Israel for Berlin or the US to obtain cheaper housing and food and to lower their cost of living. This is what he had to say:
A word for all of those who are ‘fed up’ and are ‘leaving for Europe’,” wrote Lapid on his Facebook page. “As it happens, I am in Budapest. I came here to speak before parliament about anti-Semitism and to remind them how they tried to murder my father here just because Jews did not have a country of their own, how they killed my grandfather in a concentration camp, how they starved my uncles, how my grandmother was saved at the last moment from a death march. So forgive me if I am a bit intolerant of people who are prepared to throw into the garbage the only country that the Jews have because Berlin is more comfortable.”
I was just in Berlin for a conference. I asked people who live there how much their apartments cost. You know that in Israel it takes about 125 monthly salaries to buy an average 3 room apartment [that’s without paying for anything else]? It’s about a third of that in Berlin. But many don’t buy there because rental prices are very reasonable. But you see Mr. Lapid, we in Israel are in a bit of trap. Rental apartments are in short supply here, so many young couples must either buy their own unit or live with their parents. Prices have risen dramatically over the past 20 years and many young couples simply cannot afford to buy. But as housing prices are rising by at least 15% every year [while salaries stay the same or even go down], these young people figure that if they don’t buy now, later might be too late. So many of them take out obscene mortgages [which the banks are only too happy to provide] and pay their entire earnings to service the mortgage [so they don’t save anything, and can’t put aside anything for their children either]. Also 134 months to build a four-room apartment is a world record, Mr. Lapid.
In the United States, it takes 2.9 years of salary to buy the average apartment. In Israel, it takes 7.7. According to the USDA Economic Research Service, Israeli consumers spent 15.9 percent of their expenditures on food in 2012, more than many other OECD countries.
You talked about your parents? Well let me tell you about my parents, and the parents of many other young people I know here in Israel. Our parents come out of retirement so that they can help us; they take out mortgages on houses they already own; they buy groceries for us, they babysit our children because we have to work 2 jobs, and because daycare, like everything else in this country, is exorbitantly expensive.
Our parents pay for the grandchildren’s nursery schools, clothes, and after-school activities. Without the help of our parents, we won’t be able to make it. A new study by the Taub Center for Social Policy finds that 87 percent of all Israeli parents help their adult children with finances.
Oh, and my parents all lost family in the Holocaust too Mr. Lapid. The Holocaust Mr. Lapid, doesn’t belong just to you and your family. And the country’s economy Mr. Lapid, doesn’t belong just to you and your family. So instead of berating us for trying to survive, for trying to make a better life for ourselves and our children, and even leaving for a few years so that we can breathe a little, maybe you should just do your job and lower prices, increase competition, break monopolies, get tycoons to return their loans [which they took from our pension funds], clean up financial corruption, and increase workforce participation.
When you’ve done all that, Mr. Lapid, then we’ll start taking you seriously. Oh and by the way, sources who were at your anti-Semitism speech in Budapest tell me that you really insulted the locals there by your Facebook page tirade against Israelis leaving for Europe. Good job.