How Tel Aviv Became the Most Expensive City on Earth

According to a ranking recently issued by the Economist, Tel Aviv is the world’s most expensive city, ahead of New York, Paris, and Berlin. There are many reasons for this, writes Gad Lior, but the most important is also the simplest:

Tel Aviv was not planned to be the heart of a metropolis, numbering almost five million people, from Netanya to Gedera. Tel Aviv itself is actually a small city, with only 400,000 inhabitants, whose land reserves are running out. So it is no wonder that a three-room apartment in Tel Aviv is rented out for 8,000 shekels, [about $2,500], and in Berlin, a similar apartment will be rented out for 600 euros [about $680]—and rent cannot be hiked up beyond a limited rate stipulated by law, while no such law exists in Israel.

Most of all, the most expensive city in the world suffers from an inaccessibility problem. There are no trains from some of the nearby cities, no subway, not even a light rail. So almost everyone commutes from morning to night in private vehicles to . . . Tel Aviv. And fuel costs money, and traffic jams too.

And since this is the leading city in Israel, the owner of a clothing store admitted that “in Tel Aviv, they will pay me for a suit exactly three times more than in Afula.” . . . For a larger selection, with more prestigious products, in a store that pays much more in property taxes than in Afula—the price will be much greater.

The huge tax burden that falls on the business sector causes some of the costs and it’s not going to get any better in the foreseeable future. Add to this the strengthening of the shekel against the dollar as it has become the world’s hottest currency in recent months.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Israeli economy, Tel Aviv

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy