President Rivlin: Years of hopes fading, dreams falling apart

President Rivlin opens first Israel-OECD conference and says that government must build emergency plan to save small businesses.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

President Reuven Rivlin at Rabin memorial 2019
President Reuven Rivlin at Rabin memorial 2019
Yehonatan Weltzer/TPS

President Reuven Rivlin this morning, Sunday, opened the first Israel-OECD conference presented by Maariv and the Jerusalem Post. Because of the requirements as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the president’s pre-recorded remarks were screened to the participants of the conference, which marks 10 years of Israel joining the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

At the beginning of his remarks, the president praised the strength of the Israeli economy over the last decade, noting that when Israel joined the OECD, it required structural changes in the country and meeting targets that brought improvements in a range of fields.

“Over the last months, something has happened in the world. The coronavirus pandemic, it seems, is a black swan that will, unfortunately, remain with is for quite some time,” said the president, noting the need to learn to live with the disease, to change habits and to cooperate at the international level. “We are all dealing with deep cuts to the workforce, to government income, to whole branches of the economy that have been put on hold, and to the lives of thousands who have no jobs and no income,” said the president.

“Here in Israel, from the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, we heard the cries of the small business owners. I know that behind every small business is a big dream. I see small businesses collapsing, years of hopes fading, dreams that came true and are falling apart. We must not let those dreams disappear. They are the foundation and the building blocks of the economy and we must not leave them behind. Now, when it is clear that corona is here to stay, the government must build an emergency plan to save small businesses and learn from other countries how to do it. A successful country must be able to face the challenges it encounters and to adapt to reality,” said the president. “The State of Israel is a welfare state. That is the model that has protected us over the years, and we must not abandon those who are hurting. Periods of crisis are a test for human society and in this crisis, social solidarity is more vital than ever.”

The president stressed that in recent years, Israel has faced crises other than the coronavirus pandemic and that in the last decade, Israel’s economy has been managed extremely well at the macro level with outstanding levels of growth and very low levels of unemployment. “But these measures and macroeconomic considerations have resulted in some casualties at the microeconomic level. OECD reports have held up a mirror that shows that behind the positive macro situation, the gaps have grown. While high-tech and the financial sectors in Israel have flourished, the Israel of minimum wage has struggled. Alongside the booming economy of Herzliya and Tel Aviv, the economy of Bnei Brak, Hatzor and Rahat have not kept pace. They are all our children, they are all our citizens.”

“There is an inherent tension between the vital aspiration to be the start-up nation and the desire to excel, and the need to also stop and look at the situation of those left behind. I believe that we can do both, and that it is in our nature to do so. I believe that cooperation and transparency, open economy and encouraging entrepreneurism are hopes that we all share to succeed and to reach the goal – a more successful and better world.”