Finance Minister Yair Lapid responded to the firestorm over the middle class he created earlier this week, writing on Facebook that people like his fictional Riki Cohen need government attention to keep the state strong.
On Sunday, Lapid posted on Facebook that he put Riki Cohen, a fictional Hadera teacher making NIS 20,000 a month together with her husband but unable to afford a mortgage, at the top of the Finance Ministry’s agenda.
The posting sparked days of backlash, as opposition politicians and pundits pointed out that the Cohen family’s salary was higher than that of 80 percent of Israelis and that the ministry should help the poor before the upper middle class.
However, Lapid said Friday that the Cohens and their ilk need to be taken care of first if the state is to be able to provide for the poor.
“I agree that there are people who have it much harder, but without a strong middle class paying taxes, how will we help the poor? From what money?” he wrote.
Lapid also defended the salary he gave the Cohens, saying that NIS 20,000 gross was the average for an Israeli family with two workers.
“Riki and her husband net NIS 14,000, and if they pay a mortgage and raise three kids, it’s also not easy for them,” he wrote.
According to state figures, the average gross salary for Israelis in 2012 was NIS 9,022.
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.