Israel's most popular political slogan - "The People Want Social Justice" - needs two more words: "For All." In the American context, those two words confirm the Pledge of Allegiance's definition of the US as a truly democratic republic based on liberty and justice for all its citizens.
In the contemporary Israeli context, they would extend the call for a more equitable distribution of wealth beyond the so-called "middle class" alone. (A more accurate term for the intended and worthy beneficiaries would be "the working class.")
This proposed verbal supplement is all the more relevant in Israel's case now that the activists who staged last year's protests against this country's high cost of living and the consequent difficulties in making ends meet are about to renew their campaign.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's recent claim - that most Israelis enjoy adequate income while their Arab and ultra-orthodox Jewish fellow-citizens (the so-called "haredim") do not - exposes a very serious shortcoming here. Israeli Arabs comprise nearly 20 percent and the haredim nearly 10% of Israel's population.
Rather than just admit that they have social and economic problems, Netanyahu should be trying to do something about them.
On paper, Israel's Arab citizens enjoy equal rights and are eligible for the same quality of services from the governmental authorities - local and national - as their Jewish counterparts. But this is not reflected in day-to-day life.
The unemployment rate is substantially higher among Israeli Arabs than among Israeli Jews, especially insofar as Arab women are concerned. This is because the incumbent and previous governments have failed to direct manufacturing firms toward the cities, towns and villages where Arabs live. Therefore, opportunities for Arab women to find jobs near their homes are woefully insufficient.
In general, industries whose output is earmarked for Israel's armed forces or are owned outright by the military defense establishment do not hire Arabs. Prior service in the armed forces is a prerequisite. And since Israeli Arabs are not conscripted (although they can and some do volunteer) they cannot qualify.
The production of weaponry and aircraft constitutes a major segment of Israel's industrial base and requires a substantial number of employees. All of the jobs in that category are filled by Jews. The state provides elementary and secondary education to Arab girls and boys, but the academic level evidently is lower than in the Jewish sector. This is reflected in the results of the annual matriculation tests which are an important factor in applications for admission to the country's colleges and universities.