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March 23, 1990 - Image 24

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-03-23

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FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 1990


The good life in Tel Aviv

DE 1-1‘°

9 am-5 pm
9 am-noon

drawal. Washington may have
to pick up the cost of compen-
sating Jewish settlers, private-
ly estimated at more than $35
Moral Mon Some Israelis
fear the effect of affluence
on the country's moral fiber.
They point to crime—Israel has
a higher prisoner population
than any country in Western
Europe—and to growing num-
bers of Israelis who avoid mili-
tary duty. Says Israeli novelist
A. B. Yehoshua. "This is a dif-
ferent kind of Israel. The inti.
/oda began partly because of
economic disparities [between
Jews and Arabs]." Flaunting
I. wealth, he says. "is very dan-
gerous in a society where the
Kne,:set is just 10 miles from
Palestinian refugee camps."
Most Israelis see the decline
of egalitarianism as natural.
"Israel is a more individualistic
society now," says Ephraim Ta-
'Israel is more individualistic now: At dockside
bori, a sociologist at Bar-Han
University. "Some people are
more than 70 percent of the tourism, filling
spending money in a manner they would
up swank hotels at $260 a night.
have found embarrassing 20 years ago." It
Nor is the spending limited to Israel
may prove embarrassing again: with grow-
proper. The nouveaux riches have spilled
ing demands for more US. aid to emerging
over the line into the occupied West Bank.
democracies, Israel's S3 billion allotment is
Some Jewish settlers there are putting up
likely to come under close scrutiny--espe-
3200,000 homes with comforts that range
cially if it seems that many Israelis don't
from heated towel racks to solariums. If a
need the money.
peace treaty ever requires an Israeli with-
in 60DORE STA SCE k in Tel Ala.

n the pro shop of the Mount Hermon ski
resort. a modish Tel Aviv couple was
debating the purchase of a $120 pair of
imported Courreges sunglasses.
You can get them cheaper when we go to
Switzerland next month," said the wife.
"I want them now," said the husband. He
handed the salesgirl a credit card.
They are Israel's new money. They ski on
Mount Hermon. They scuba dive year-
round off Eilat. In Tel Aviv. the marina is
overflowing with their yachts. They build
million-dollar mansions in the Herzliya
and Savyon "villa belt," and plead for
house help—Filipinos and Poles pre-
ferred—in newspaper want ads. Even slug-
gish El Al is now profitable. thanks to their
frequent trips to Europe and New York.
And they legally avoid high Israeli income
taxes by joining what is sardonically called
- Commando Squad I83": those who stay
abroad more than half the year. Their fa-
vorite flight? Its Swissair 333, daily at 7:50
a.m. from Tel Aviv to Zurich, where they
meet their bankers.
What was once a pioneer nation. proud of
scratching its living from the land. has
evolved into a bustling consumer society
with an upper crust bent on the
good life. Just how numerous
Israel's new millionaires are
remains an official mystery.
We simply don't have any rec-
ord of personal wealth," said
spokesman David Newman of
omewhere off the Chinese
the Central Bureau of Stasis-
coast next month, a radio
tics. "There has been a flourish-
station aboard an aging cargo
ing of nouveaux riches in the
ship renamed the Goddess of
last decade," said Yoav Itzhak,
Democracy will start beam-
a journalist for the daily
ing uncensored radio into
Ma'ariv who has been chroni-
the People's Republic. Radio
cling the new caste. "And the
Voice of Democracy in China,
rich are getting even richer."
sponsored by the French
To be sure. the new wealth is
monthly Actuel, will feature
trickling down, as even average
news bulletins and rock mu-
Israelis become galloping con-
sic. It will broadcast mes-
sumers. In the past decade the
sages from China :e exiles.
number of private cars on Is-
And it will have a call-in
raeli roads has doubled, despite
phone line, so Chinese on the
a 200 percent-plus tax on motor
mainland can go on the air,
vehicles that puts a $25,000
too. "The Chinese woke the
price tag on the humblest
world in 1989. In 1990 they're
Volkswagen. Half the cabbies
alone," says French journal-
in Israel seem able to afford a
ist Christophe Nick, who con-
Mercedes, starting at $40,000.
ceived the project. "They
And weekending in the south-
shouldn't be forgotten."
ern resort of Eilat is so popular
that locals now account for

Radio Free China



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New Jet Set


Un like short-wave stations
Like Voice of America and
the BBC World Service, the
Voice of Democracy in China
will be medium-wave—re-
ceivable even on rudimenta-
r• transistor radios. A high-
power transmitter aboard
ship and relay stations near
Chinese borders should be
able to evade jamming, Nick
says, and ensure that the sig-
nal can be picked up from Ti-
bet to Inner Mongolia (It will
operate in a variety of Chi-
nese dialects.) So far, the God-
dess of Democracy, which left
the coast of France last week.
has enough cash from dona-
tions to keep afloat till mid-
June. A multilingual version
of John Lennon's "Imagine"

will go on sale in May to raise
additional funds. Nick, who
was in Tiananmen Square
during the crackdown last
June, hopes for enough to last
at least until the year-end.
"This is not some pirate
counterpropaganda thing,"
says Nick_ "This is .. a free-
press radio."




111ANUIL VaCC•fir,M

Net forst=

The Goddess

MARCH 19.1990

Is Affluence
Corrupting Israel?


Special to The Jewish News


s Israel, once a pioneer-
ing nation of sabras and
kibbutzniks, becoming
corrupted by galloping af-
That's the thesis of a
Newsweek article. Israel,
writes correspondent
Theodore Stanger, "has
evolved into a bustling con-
sumer society with an upper-
crust bent on the good life."
The Tel Aviv marina is
"overflowing" with Israeli-
owned yachts; million-dollar
mansions are being built in
Herzliya and Savyon;
Israel's high income tax is
avoided by staying abroad
half the year; and weeken-
ding in Eilat is "so popular
that locals now account for
more than 70 percent of the
tourism, filling up swank
hotels at $260 a night."
Yet, somehow, the
Newsweek article skirts all
the soothsayers who have
been predicting that the
Israeli economy is on the
skids. The Palestinian in-
tifada, in particular, has
caused a two percent drop in
gross national product, a
$600 million loss in exports
to the West Bank and Gaza,
and about a 30 percent drop

in tourism. And as the cen-
tralized governments of the
USSR and the eastern bloc
are either falling or self-
reforming, Israel still re-
tains much of its highly cen-
tralized economy.
Lacking from the
Newsweek article are any
statistics on the New Rich.
The Israeli government,
reports Stanger, does not
keep records on personal
wealth, yet a reporter for the
Israeli newspaper, Ma'ariv
says there "has been a
flourishing of nouveaux
riches in the last decade.
And the rich are getting
even richer."
In the West Bank, writes
Stanger, some Jewish set-
tlers are building $200,000
homes "with comforts that
range from heated towel
racks to solariums. If a peace
treaty ever requires an
Israeli withdrawal, Wash-
ington may have to pick up
the cost of compensating
Jewish settlers, privately
estimated at more than $35
Newsweek reports Israelis
who claim that affluence has
eroded their nation's moral
fiber point to Israel having a
higher prisoner population
than any nation in western
Europe and to the growing

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