With another Israeli election on the horizon, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu has focused on a critical issue for struggling Israelis: inflation. Polling data shows that Israel’s inflationary price hikes are a priority issue among his constituency, and so Netanyahu is focusing his campaign efforts on lowering prices and the cost of living for everyday Israelis.
The campaign promise
A recent Netanyahu campaign video shows the former Prime Minister going to a grocery store in Jerusalem’s Malha Mall. Standing next to an apple stand with a crowd of frustrated shoppers gathered around him, the opposition leader declares: “We’ll lower prices to assist you! “Mortgages have increased! The gasoline – have you heard? We’ll also lower [the price of] gas. Do you want it to decrease?” Netanyahu asked rhetorically. “Yes!” the crowd answered in unison. “So vote for us!” he said with an optimistic grin.
Netanyahu’s campaign video continues at a bakery and a gas station, where he bemoans the increase in prices across the board, vowing that if elected, he will reduce the rising prices plaguing Israel’s working class.
According to a poll by the Israel Democracy Institute at the end of May, the most pressing issue for Israelis currently is the high cost of living, with 34% listing it as their top concern. In third place, after security, Israelis are concerned about increases in the cost of housing, another inflation-related issue.
A price comparison
The cost to fill up a full tank of gas in Israel is among the highest in the world, practically double the already high cost of gas in the United States. Israelis paying over $9 per gallon watch with jealousy as Americans complain about paying $5 per gallon!
Israel’s Electricity Authority recently announced a 9.6% price increase beginning this month, with significant consequences for lower-income Israelis. Families struggling to pay already high electricity bills will now face an even greater burden.
With rising prices crushing the lower class, the Finance Ministry tried to subsidize bread but was recently forced to raise prices to mollify Israel’s bakeries, who have themselves struggled with flour shortages and price hikes due to the war in Ukraine.
As always, the people hurt the most by price hikes are those in Israel’s struggling lower class. That is why charitable organizations like Meir Panim are a vital safety net for the most vulnerable Israelis.
A silver lining
Meir Panim provides warm meals to Israelis who need them through their country-wide network of Restaurant-Style Soup Kitchens. To minimize waste and costs, the organization acquires about half of its food from local hotels that would otherwise throw out perfectly edible and delicious food, and its staff includes many dedicated volunteers. Nevertheless, Meir Panim bears many costs that are only increasing due to inflation, including food, transport, storage, cleaning, rent, and utilities for their Restaurant-Style soup Kitchens. They rely 100% on private donations.