Monday, December 4

The Crime of Poverty

A report published yesterday by "Latet", an organization dedicated to donating food to needy people, shows 27% of the poor in Israel expect their children will not be able to escape the cycle of poverty.

There are several ways to read these data: On the one hand, one might say that 73% expect their children will be able to escape the poverty cycle. It sounds better, that's for sure. A little bit more comforting, there is hope, so to say.

However, twenty seven percent is a hell of a number. Especially when realizing that 1 out of every 3 children in Israel lives below the poverty line. (source: the last "Bitouah Leumi" Report on Poverty, 2006 דו"ח העוני). Poverty usually implies having less to spend on education, food, medicine, clothing, housing and culture.
Poor children tend to live in areas where educational, social, cultural and medical services are mediocre or less available. When wealthier people live in less affluent areas (e.g. in the periferial areas), they go private, whenever the need arises.
Poor people cannot afford themselves that luxury. As a result, over time, poor children lag behind. The ongoing budget cuts in social spending are paid for by the children of the poor. The so-called "privatization" of many services has lead to less services or no services to poor people in weak areas. Services have become less available, often because payments make them so, or special conditions, the poor cannot meet.
Poor people know what they are talking about.

It's their children who pay the price, over time, slowly, surely, devastatingly.
There are many organizations providing some sort of services to the poor: Soup kitchens, used school books (often of an older edition, which makes it more difficult to follow lessons) , used clothes etc. I do not wish to criticize the wonderful people spending much of their time volunteering their services. Yet it is shameful that soup kitchens and food hand outs are necessary.

Food, housing, medicine, education and clothing should be a basic right, not a handout that you sometimes receive and sometimes you don't.
A society that allows itself to do less, commits a crime against its children. the crime of poverty.


Anonymous said...

"Food, housing, medicine, education and clothing should be a basic right"

Very much agree with the above...we must look after the poorest of the poor and the disabled.

I further believe that all should be done to get people who can work to be employed ,such as the Wisconsin Project ( Me-ha-Lev) ,so that they can have self-esteem.Asma Agbarieh, monitoring Wisconsin for WAC in the Arab Sector:Only 17% of the Arab women in Israel work outside the home, compared with 50% of Jewish women. The problem results not only from lack of jobs, but also from the fact that Arab society looks down on working wives. Now, with Wisconsin, Arab women will be compelled to appear in the placement centers for 30-40 hours a week.

Btw Haaretz had an excellent article by Charlotte HallŽ on the excellent work done by Table to Table "Meshulchan Leshulchan," started by Joseph Gitler

richards1052 said...

Thanks for those statistics which more people esp. outside Israel should know. Of course, the ongoing conflict w. the Palestinians prevents Israel fr. addressing these basic issues fully. And this too is a tragedy.

I thought you'd either get a chuckle or a case of acid reflux fr. this gentleman's comment in my blog today that Israel's economic climate is heaven on earth. Needless to say, the guy's a flaming rightist.

Do you think you could link to the specific web pg. carrying the Latet rpt. rather than the site's main pg. I can't find the rpt linked on the main pg.

yudit said...

One of the common misunderstandings about the poor is that they are unemployed.
In fact, 60% of Israel poor are employed. Only their wages are so low, they are living WAY below the poverty line.
Of the remaining 40% many are elderly or disabled.
Much research has been carried out on the Wisconsin project and most of it has pointed out its devastating effect on its participants.

Almost none found a real job. Those who did find jobs, found them in part time employments as cleaners, carers for the elderly or seasonal work. Those who work, mostly do so through temporary employment companies. As a result, none have been able to escape poverty. None. You get it? Zero.
Some of the participants are actually highly educated migrant from the ex Soviet Union.
Others are elderly Arab village women (sometimes with little writing and reading skills), who have worked very hard all their lives taking care of the family, working in the orchards or tending the family animals, as is common in traditional Arab village society.
Bussing those women 2 hours from their villages, putting them in a blue apron and having them clean our hospital's floor for less than a minimum wage instead of having them do the traditional thing (caring for the grand children so their better educated daughters can go to study or work) is hardly a good solution. More over, they are still poor.
The Wisconsin project has been found a failure by almost all who have investigated it in Israel, except those who operate it: they are making a lot of money.

This shouldn't surprise us at all, because the long term effects in Wisconsin, where the project originated, were the same.Its graduates are still dirt poor and of those who found a job, most were the first to be sacked, when the American economy went down again.

Minimum wages that are so low, people are forced to live in poverty are a crime.
Employment companies forcing people to work under inhumane conditions are mobsters and a society that lowers all spending on social issues is immoral.

o, and before i forget, most of the Jewish women who work work part time, for very low wages.

yudit said...


the full report will be made public only tomorrow and shall be made available on the "Latet" website over the next few days.
I'll post a link