Saturday, August 26

On the meaning of social statistics and discrimination

With your head in a freezer and your feet in an oven at the same time, you may feel quite well, on average, that is, were we to believe the numerical implications of social statistics.

I just read 15 million (fifteen million, no, not a numerical mistake) people in China are currently homeless as a result of typhoons. A catastrophe of a size we cannot even begin to imagine. I truly hope the Chinese have better logistics, welfare, contruction, health etc. etc. professionals than we have here in our northern district.

And on a much more local scale:

I also read in the weekend papers (our local "HaIr", to be exact), the Tel Aviv municipality has canceled 226 (two hundred twenty six) welfare and social work jobs over the last 5 years, a trend they intend to continue also during the coming year. It is impossible (for me with my limited means) to figure out how many of these jobs were canceled in Jaffa as the municipal statistics presented to the public, are constructed in such a way, it is impossible to analyze them by sub-district and the concept "south Tel Aviv" also includes the Shapira, Florentine, Kiryat Shalom and other neighborhoods, which are not part of Jaffa.
However, from my experience and talks to people here, i know a thing or two about what is happening in the Jaffa welfare scene.

Jaffa has e.g. two separate "advancement of youth" ("kidum noar) municipal systems, one for Arab speakers , the other one for Hebrew speakers. Both groups work with street youths, school drop-outs, kids in danger of becoming marginalised. They work only with kids until the age of 18. After that, the municipality provides nothing, zil, zero, efes (0 in Hebrew), sifer (0 in Arabic), who cares.... (sure there are a few NGO's doing a great job, but they are not part of the municipality). Apparently when these kids reach the age of eighteen, their problems are all of a sudden, as if by magic, solved. In this context, it is fair to state i do some work for one of the NGO's with girls and young women in the ages 18 - 25.
More over, the employees of the Jewish system do all have "steady jobs" as municipality employees, whereas the employees of the Arab system have temporary contracts for part time jobs, which can be deminished easily. And many have been made redundant, or have their jobs cut to part-time jobs over the last few years.
No doubt, there is distress and danger of marginalization for most of Jaffa's youth, both Jewish AND Palestinian (or Arab Israelis, as the media and the municipality like to call them).
Yet services for both groups are not the same.

Ideally, in a society which holds equal chances and social justice as important values, where the needs are biggest, is where you should spend the most. Thus, in south Tel Aviv in general and in Jaffa in specific, relatively more should be spent on welfare and (in) formal education than in, let's say Ramat Aviv Gimmel or Bavli or any of the other wealthy and rich neighborhoods in Tel Aviv's north.
Moreover, more should be spent in order to assist Jaffa's Palestinian population, as even the municipality admits, this is by far the weakest population in the Tel Aviv-Yafo municipality (source: the municipal "Jaffa Conference for Wlefare and Education, held in December 2005).

However, the opposite appears to be the case. The poor get poorer and the services provided to them get worse, thereby deepening the problem. Especialy for children, this is detriment. Their chances are minimalized and a 3rd and 4th generation to poverty is in the making.

The cancellation of 266 welfare jobs does very little to solve that.

The welfare system in Jaffa is little more than a sad joke, no longer believed in by anyone, the population nor many of its demoralized employees.
The decisions to cut welfare jobs and where to cut them are part of a policy, someone makes those decisions and another group of people authorize them.
Is it social justice that guides them, or perhaps something else, such as the wish for continued support from their buddies in the northern neighborhoods where many of the policy makers live.

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