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

How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus