Showing posts with label Government. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Government. Show all posts

Monday, February 20, 2017

Politics and Business: Oil and Vinager

Food is a fast growth sector in Israel, here government and business differ in opinion: imports are important
Local economic and global trade trends are changing enough to tear traditional government to business relationships. Israeli businesses relied on government to support and promote local industries around the world. So business and government worked together in making contacts around the world. Yet some changes are pushing the two apart. The changes are fast and slow, slow in the construction and banking sectors, but fast in technology and security sectors. Israeli government wants to promote local business, a balance between manufacturing, service and public workforce. Yet business and industry wants flexibility and the ability to move quickly as opportunities appear. This usually translate into moving jobs from manufacturing to service sectors. Today it also means moving workers or jobs from here to a foreign country. The movement of people out of Israel and even worst into Israel is not welcomed.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Cracking Down on Electric Bicycles

A 250 shekel fine imposed on bicycle riding on Tel Aviv sidewalks - Ibn Gvirol at Arlozorov, April 2016
Police in Tel Aviv now stop and fine electric bicycle riders on city sidewalks. On a few main streets, I have seen police officers stop riders. This seems to be happening on large streets with narrow sidewalks (Derech Ha'shalom into Tel Aviv, Ibn Gvirol Street). On streets in Givatay'im in early afternoon when high school children ride in packs through commercial streets (Katzenelson and Waitzman Streets). Besides terrorizing pedestrians on busy commercial streets, an accident can cause real trauma. Up to now accidents caused a few bruzed muscles and broken bones. But as more bikers ride on sidewalks, the inevitable serious accident it just a matter of when not if.
The electric bicycle trend has taken Tel Aviv by storm. At first electric bicycles were a curiosity, maybe another alternative transportation mode in a city with chronic parking shortage and commute time grid lock are an annoyance for years. But the electrified models came at a time where government efforts to introduce more bicycling seemed like a good idea. Tel Aviv introduced a bicycling rental by the hour program. Copying London's program, a resident can sign up for a yearly pass and pay 280 shekels (see city bicycling rental page, HE). The Tel-O-Fun program is adding a few biking enthusiasts to Tel Aviv streets, but seems more of a publicity effort than a real transportation solution. There is talk about adding bicycle lanes, but besides bicycle traffic lights along the beach path, to me this seems like a long term political babble. So if you come to Tel Aviv, and see "everyone" biking on sidewalks. Look for the marked bike paths. Or give the police a story how in London and Amsterdam bikes and pedestrians have equal rights. It could get you off a 250 shekel fine (about US$ 62.50). Otherwise just ride the streets and as they say "be careful out there!"

Friday, April 8, 2016

Investing in "Lifestyle": Showing Up Everywhere

Flowers, trees, public bicycles and cleaner streets are a big part of local government spending today

Israel's focus on domestic lifestyle growth is slowly showing signs of life. In the past few years, Israel's perspective of urban lifestyle became a focus point. While government and private organizations were not as keen on investing in local lifestyle in the past, attitudes toward living standards have changed. The average Israeli's street view is changing for the better. Streets are cleaner, renovated where needed and even policed more frequently. To me it seems as if local government is taking outdoor life more seriously. Following the example of cities around the world, streets, parks and public spaces are cleaner, better maintained and more comfortable. There is a hidden story here. I think it relates to the change of attitude toward the hard criticism of government policies the last few years. This type of writing is best done by political writers, especially in mainstream media outlets (newspapers, TV). Yet here is my take on things:

Friday, November 20, 2015

Legal Graffiti @ TLV Central Bus Station #5

Stencil like mural depicts some graffiti seen on Tel Aviv streets

Here is another mural from the Tel Aviv legal graffiti exhibit. This one in a stencil style looks like many small graffiti drawings seen on city streets. Stencil drawings are fast and easy to get on walls. They are also easy to create with simple computer programs. Some CAD machines can actually cut shapes in cardboard or thin plywood sheets. These make excellent stencils. Keep on coming, more pictures from Tel Aviv's streets and hidden "legal" graffiti life as I troll the city.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Legal Graffiti @ TLV Central Bus Station #4

This mural with a funky whimsical theme reflects a realistic cartoonist style, great colors make for a beautiful picture

Here is another mural from the Tel Aviv central bus station seventh floor collection. Actually there are more than twenty great pictures hiding there. Tel Aviv is a collection of so many different "bubbles" (essentially lifestyles, small communities, private interest groups) that this type of government effort to give one group a voice is hard to miss. Artists in Israel are a struggling bunch. While some have developed a voice, style and even a body of work, many are struggling just to get their art out to the public while holding a day McJob. But sadly it is hard to predict what will happen to government efforts to promote certain art projects. In the case of "legal graffiti" at the Tel Aviv central bus station, I don't think these artists are getting the benefit of their efforts. The area where these murals are drawn is mostly just a place where bus riders on local lines rush to catch a bus. In addition, there is the element of bus riders in general. These are usually the lower class laborers, students and conscripted soldiers (on compulsory duty from age 18 to 21). Which by itself is not such a bad audience, yet many will never make it to this hidden crevice in our vast urban sprawl. (sorry for the sarcastic-negative opinion, but it probably reflects the general view of many Tel Avivians).

Monday, November 9, 2015

Private vs. Public Gardens in Israel

Beautifully tended goldfish pool in north Tel Aviv, definitely raised the question of how public money is spent /

Once in a while I pass by a garden on a side street and stop to admire the plants or gardening work. Most times it is clearly not the city's gardener's handy work. In most private buildings, gardening is done by the residents (or as most areas under buildings, unattended). Last week on a walk to the beach we stumbled into a small goldfish pool. We were not sure who tended this wonderful creation, my guess was not the city, but my companion thought differently. Enjoy...

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Legal Graffiti @ TLV Central Bus Station #3

Subtle style yet incredible moving, street artists can be as skillful and meaningful as political as any mainstream artists.
This is a third in a series of Tel Aviv central bus station "legal graffiti" series. (see article 1 and article 2) Some of the wall size murals are subtle, hints of something dark or sinister. Interesting how street artists can be as subtle, intentioned and political as mainstream artists. The interesting collection at this hidden spot reveals a wide range of styles. The messages are not always subtle or anti establishment. There are beautiful "Keith Haring" like impressions. This is expected with the western (especially American) influence in the urban gritty lifestyle of Tel Avivians. There are also influenced of Arab and Russian drawing styles. Both a strong component of daily Israeli experience. More "legal graffiti" coming - not just from the central bus station.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Legal Graffiti @ TLV Central Bus Station #2

Futuristic, robotic funky graffiti mural in the Tel Aviv #Israel central bus station | Copyright © 2015 DAVider

The last post included a picture of a graffiti mural at the Tel Aviv central bus station. While the project as a whole received criticism, overall the station still serves thousands of riders every day. The station serves two large bus companies: Dan and Egged. Dan serves the central region of Israel. Here riders transfer mostly from buses and trains (there is a train station walking distance from the station) to destinations usually 20 to 50 kilometers from the city. Egged buses serves mostly the what is referred to as the "peripheral" regions of Israel, outside the central region (Gush Dan). The lower floors serves as a large mall, with the first floor (essentially the basement below ground) as one large shoe emporium. Yes, we have shoes from as low as $5 flip-flops to mid-range stilettos (this phenomena is worth a series of articles all by itself). The sixth floor is the Dan bus lines center. The seventh floor is the Egged bus line center. The murals, sort of graffiti done legally, are on the seventh floor.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Legal Graffiti @ TLV Central Bus Station

Beautiful mural size "legal graffiti"; Tel Aviv central bus station; 7th floor | 
Copyright © 2015 DAVider

The story of Tel Aviv's "new" central bus station is an interesting one. Tel Aviv's "new" bus station is essentially a neglected and mostly unused "white elephant". Mostly turned into one part bus exchange (not useful due to the neglect of investment in the intercity bus system) - and part outlet and low cost shops mainly catering to foreign workers and young army soldiers. Combination of fast change, with an incredibly fast growth in private car ownership, with slow bureaucratic government decision process, ended up with essentially an outdated central bus station. Located near an old (what Israelis call "THE OLD") open air bus station, makes for a strange and often ridiculed example of the ineptness of Israel's government. Sometimes blamed at the transportation department, sometimes blamed at the ineptness of government to carry out large complex projects. But overall simply and example of what happens in Israel when government (but not only government) stays in one place too long without noticing real life changes. More on this in later posts...

Friday, July 10, 2015

Free WiFi in Tel Aviv - Work in Progress [update]

Tel Aviv WiFi Landing Page - English Version, WiFi is live but not everywhere
A few years ago Tel Aviv city hall announced a free WiFi in the city "project". As part of giving Tel Aviv an international image, I guess the idea of seeing people sitting in cafes and working on laptops,was an idea who's time has come. The city was going to provide hot spots at least in the commercial areas. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Christian Pilgrims: Israel's "secret" tourists

Detail of Tiberius church painting
When the rockets fall and the buses blow up with tourists (S. Korean tourists, Sinai, February 2014, Al-Jazeera), there are still people who come to Israel. Called by a higher voice, believing in a purpose, something as fundamental as the terrorists believe in freedom or nationality. Christian pilgrims still come to Israel regardless of state security warnings and daily media buzz. From their perspective, especially the inside sources of the church and tourism, Israel is no more dangerous than any other place. Are church voices mistaken in their assessment of the dangers? Why would priests put their followers at harm's way? Do Christians still possess that fundamental spirit, which called for each believer to be a "soldier" and a believer? Or is there something beyond the media hype and political sniping (from the media, states, international organizations, political and military personalities)? Actually, with a little bi of reading, you notice a difference in opinion and belief in Christians' view of Israel and the conflict. Many Christians, both lay independents and organized groups (mostly independent churches), believe in total support of Israel. Some support Israel due to the Jewish state religion. Some due to the liberal and overall support of the state of Christians living in Israel. Beyond this, there is a different view of political and military issues in religious organizations and religious leaders. Unlike secular views, there is a long term perspective and a sense of belief in slow change. There is also belief in the right resolution long term. Whatever was meant to have happened will happen. More on the impact of religious tourism on Israel, not simply economically, in future blog posts.      

Monday, July 15, 2013

Can Central Moderate Politics Save Israeli Frustration?

The current Israeli political coalition was elected on serving the “average Israeli”. A kind of answer to the extremist views of the right and left politics of Netanyahu's previous term. But with this central view, come mostly moderate politics. This seems to be the “modus operandi” of the current Lapid/Bennette coalition. The last few elections, Israelis were told to go extreme. Either right or left, the only solutions to the hard problems: Palestinians, economics, equality, and socialism versus capitalism was in strong single minded policies. So came the Netanyahu/Lieberman coalition. While they took extreme right wing policy direction, the really hard issues were not dealt with at all. Palestinian related issues were simply ignored (maybe that was the policy), the economy slowly spiraled downward (maybe the was the fault of international economic dependence), equality in many areas went out the window (an the trickle down theory with it), and the idea that capitalism can save the day no matter what, turned out not such a great idea (even the rich can lose their money and wisdom). So came Lapid and Bennette (together with Livni and Yechimovich) and offered the middle class what seemed to be the right things. The argument was, right wing politics takes care of the fringe population: the orthodox and the settlers. So the “new” middle ground will take care of the majority in the middle.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Israel's Arduous Socialism to Capitalism Saga: IAI Baharav leaves

Israel started out as a socialist state. Without going too much into history, Israel, as it was first settled by European Zionists, was organized around independent organizations. From buying land, organizing settlements, providing medical services, to the general organization of the labor in the community, all were based or influenced by the socialist movements of Europe. At the early years of the immigration, from 1880s to the 1920s, the socialist organization structure worked well. It was also appreciated by many of the immigrants, mostly because it seemed to succeed. The community was growing and quickly evolving into a cohesive culture. But the socialist dream was not everyone's. While settlements in the kibbutz movements were pure socialist manifestation, Tel Aviv and other small settlements were growing as well. These were traditional western structured settlements. Some were cities (Haifa, Jerusalem) while others were agricultural settlements (moshavim). Essentially early on, Israel was built on two economic structures: socialism and capitalism.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

100 Days to Lapid and Bennett Governing REVOLUTION!

Yesterday (Tuesday 25-June-13) was the 100th day anniversary of Yair Lapid's and Naftali Bennett's in office. Israeli media and government has taken a page from the American administration change: promise to make sweeping changes in the first 100 days in office. After all, if you have an agenda and you think you can change how government serves the citizens, you should be able to do something right away.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Global Friction, Men/Women, Jew/Muslim: Incident - Anastasia Michaeli << link to You Tube video if you can't see the one above <<

Knesset Member Anastasia Michaeli threw a glass of water at Knesset Member Ghaleb Majadele four days ago. It made for a great news clip and gave us all a peek at the hidden world of Knesset committee discussions. There is one Knesset channel on TV, but as most houses of representative and senate video feeds go, you can imagine how interesting most speeches members give -- ENOUGH TO IMAGINE THE PAINT DRYING. All of Israel's political, social, financial and every other category of friction ends up on the Knesset floor (and committee hearings.) I would venture to expand this craziness to even international friction between the west and middle-east, free world and the Arab non-democracy and maybe even free markets and structured Arab ones. When it comes to the edge between two civilizations, Israel is IT! Here, in this little state, we are truly the seam between the west and middle-east. We have the friction between Jews and Muslims, men and women, secular and religious, probably all three drove Anastasia Michaeli to lash out that day.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

What Israelis Would Tell Arabs About Democracy: You Know Best...

What would you tell all the citizens of a country who just elected a democratic government? What would be the best and simplest pieces of advice? I have been thinking about this while Arab protesters (or is it revolutionaries) have been trying to remove despot rulers. Once you have a democratically elected government, how do you live like an effective citizen? What will make democracy in daily life better than a dictator run government? Probably every free state leader is searching for this answer right now. How can you teach a billion people to "just do it" democracy? (taking a phrase from a Nike commercial) Once the Arab states adopt democracy, this will be the largest change in the world's social structure in probably 200 years, maybe ever. So while the eastern European states may think that their shift from communism to democracy was a big event, the one going on now may overshadow that wave of change.

You Know Better Than Your Government: ? !

The one thing that you hear in Israel is criticism AND improvement on government policy. In a democracy everyone has to give his point of view. But that does not mean protesting with signs on the street, or screaming at a house of representative in session, or complaining by mail to government clerks. Just annoying people is not useful and actually makes democracy less effective. I am talking about a useful suggestion if it is keeping the streets clean from dog poop (shit). As the problem was in Tel Aviv a few years ago. All the way to how medical service is organized and funded. Government by the people means exactly that. Each person has to improve and contribute to their government's operation. If you lived under a dictator for a long time, in the Arab countries case forever, than this idea is the hardest to grasp. Some requests by citizens are not going to be popular. The government is going to set rules (i.e. you have to clean up after your dog). Then the government is going to start sending out people to enforce the new regulation. Then the government is going to start punishing and fining people (i.e. it will cost you $20 for every poop we find). Then the people are going to fight back and abuse, curse and even hit regulators that come to punish dog poop violators. You get the point. Sometimes democratic government is not good for everyone, it is suppose to be good for the majority. But the operative word here is "suppose". That does not happen every time. But most of the time it does.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Jewish Leadership Balance Shift: Israelis Looking at American Jews

The late Prime Minister Rabin may have been the last Israeli leader taking the lead from an American president (Clinton) / © 2009

The balance of power in the world Jewish community is shifting. To some slowly, but here in Israel it seems like a volcanic eruption. From the 1880s Jewish immigration: community, religious, political, financial and spiritual leadership was not in Israel, it came from Europe. After the Holocaust it shifted from Europe to the United States. Israelis built a state, but still listened to outsiders for advice and guidance. As Israel grew and prospered it started developing it's own vision and leadership style. But until recently, Israel was still looking for outsider leadership advice. As Israel has gone through wars and peace periods, differences in policy with foreign Jewish community leaders started Israel in a more independent stance. Taking advice from the outside faded over the years. Today, events like negotiating with the Palestinians and immigration of Jews from the US caused a bigger and faster shift in leadership power. In Israel, this is new. As leaders, Israelis are still not sure of how to lead the world Jewish community. In education and Jewish culture, programs like Taglit-Birthright (a program started in the US) shows how Israelis can contribute and lead Jews in the diaspora. Today, Birthright is as important to Israeli leaders as it was to American leaders in the past. Experiencing Israel first hand is something that Israelis finally undersatnd. Israeli NGOS and government departments are now thinking of doing a birthright program with Israeli resources. Specially for Jews not in North American communities. Some say: that's about time.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Israel's Foreign Worker Dilemma: Economic Downturn Debate

The number of unemployed in Israel is flat or slightly down at 7.6% (1st quarter 2009) [228,000 out of 3.005 million workers, Israel Bureau of Statistics, 27/5/09]. Unemployed workers now outnumber the number of foreign workers. This puts pressure on the state to reduce the number of foreign workers. But some of the foreign worker are doing work Israeli natives are not willing to do. Still, out of approximately 200,000 registered foreign workers there must be some who can be replaced by Israelis. There are estimated 200,000 more unregistered illegal workers (some with expired permits some smuggled through Egypt and Jordan). The thinking now, while the economy is not creating enough jobs, first turns to these workers. The reduction of foreign workers in Israel started in mid-2008. The Olmert administration did not pay much attention to the details: what work needs to be done and by whom. They just cared about reducing the number of foreign workers, and as quickly as possible. A policy was formulated to reduce the foreign workers by half in one year (mid 2009) with focus on restaurant and services (i.e. cleaning), and agriculture (i.e. pickers and packers). The idea was to give Israelis a chance to take the jobs which will open up once foreign workers left. It has not worked very well, in some sectors it has not worked at all. The jobs in home care of old people, now done by young women from the Philippines and Thailand is attracting so few Israelis, training programs are no longer running. In agriculture the problem is even worst, farmers are already warning that some crops will simply disappear from store shelves. Some cash crops will not be exported any more. Even if Israeli workers start processing fruits and vegetables the cost of manufacturing will go up. In today's economic climate farmers will not be profitable or will lose their competitive pricing. This is the price we pay in hard economic times, some products simply are not viable. This means some workers are not needed.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Israel's Politicians and Bureaucrats

Politicians attract media like moths to light especially in Israel. But here the bureaucrats really run things. Bickering between the two fills newspaper pages. This is what Israelis really want to know and in all its gory details. Political aids moving to administrative positions make good stories. Bureaucrats holding back a big project like the new rail line to Jerusalem or the electric coal plant two years late in construction are even better. School budgets and the shameful state of affairs with the teachers are always good stories. Water issues and the 10 years of bickering over a desalination plant, which nobody really wants in their back yard (remember the American NIMBY movement?) [see existing plant] Israel's politicians are no different than most democratically elected officials, they boast and promise great things before elections. What happens once politicians are elected and they face the bureaucrats running the government? Well, we call it bureaucracy. Politicians complain, say that things could be better, that decisions and actions have to be made more quickly, that process (American investment lawyers call it 'due diligence') always hold back good plans. The bureaucrats are not phased by politician's promises without meaning, budgets and trade-offs. Following laws and regulations, assuring proper process, making sure the public's interest is taken care of that makes them happy.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Netanyahu Pushes for Land Reform - Privatization for the People

Residential and commercial buildings in Israel are all built on leased land. This is going to change for the first time in 100+ years (N. Tel Aviv apartment buildings / © 2009)

Last week the Israeli Knesset voted to approve a land reform act. The law changes an old practice which the state owned the land in Israel. Most of the land in Israel was bought by the Jewish National Fund or appropriated by the state. Very little was transferred to individuals or organizations, today all state land is leased out to individuals and organizations. The law enables the state of Israel to sell 5% of the land to individuals, companies and organizations. For the first time in many parts of the country individuals will be able to own the land their homes or apartments sit on. The driving force here is the difficulty of having any building improvement approved by the Israel Land Trust (Minhal Mekarke'ei Israel), a government agency managing the land and leases. It will also ease new construction specially commercial and industrial construction in none urban locations. Strictly speaking any major changes to building on Israel state land needs the government's approval. The joke goes that to have a balcony closed you need to wait two years and even then you will not have your plan approved as you wanted. New construction approval is so difficult it has become a political game. Only large companies have been able to build regularly and in any significant scale.[see Ha'aretz]