The dispute that erupted during the Cabinet meeting on Oct. 22 between Minister of Development of the Negev and Galilee Silvan Shalom and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be remembered mainly for the way Shalom blasted Netanyahu. “Go send your son to be a welder!” he hurled at the prime minister, and his words immediately made the media headlines.
Pundits were quick to present this clash as yet another indication of the deteriorating relationship between Netanyahu and senior members of the Likud Party. While that is certainly true, it is hardly the main point. The conflict between the two men does have a political layer that goes back years, and this was undoubtedly another example of the tainted relationship between them. More importantly, however, it focused public attention on one of the most painful social issues facing Israel, an issue of the kind that has never really challenged or bothered Netanyahu in the past.