Newly appointed Finance Minister Yair Lapid, head of Yesh Atid, took heavy criticism Tuesday over a Facebook post in which he gave an example of a couple in the top 20% of earners nationwide as “middle class.”
Lapid described a “typical” middle class Israeli – ‘Mrs. Riki Cohen’ from Hadera in central Israel – who together with her husband earns 20,000 shekels a month and can afford vacations abroad, but cannot afford to make down payments on apartments for her children.
Former Interior Minister Eli Yishai of Shas said in response, "The finance minister needs to recognize the country's borders which are not only in the line between Hadera and Gedera, and [the fact that] 20 thousand shekels per month is the wildest dream of a million poor people. Mr. Lapid must care for the welfare of all the citizens of Israel, not just his voters.”
MK Zahava Galon, head of the Meretz party, slammed Lapid’s post as “arrogant and out-of-touch.”
“The Finance Minister has no idea who the Israeli middle class are,” Galon said. “He should include a breakdown of salaries in Israel in one of the ‘numbers displays’ he likes to talk about.”
MK Moshe Gafni, head of the hareidi-religious Yahadut Hatorah (Gimmel) party termed Lapid “out of touch” as well. “He is out of touch with the holiness of the holiday he profaned by publishing his statement to the public in the middle of it,” Gafni said, referring to the fact that Lapid’s post went up during the final day of Passover, a holiday on which creative work – including writing - is prohibited by Jewish law (halakha).
Lapid is also “out of touch with the nation’s many unemployed and minimum-wage earners... Not everyone earns tens of thousands of shekels each month, and it would be worth Lapid’s time to learn a bit more about his position before releasing empty slogans,” Gafni added.
MK Yitzchak Herzog of the Labor party said, “There are a lot more ‘Mrs. Cohens’ out there earning just 5,000 shekels, and with their partner maybe 10,000, who give no less to the country, who send their children to the army, and who barely get by. Lapid plans to decrease their child benefit… Finance Minister, wake up – there is the real middle class.”