Israel and Poverty…?

Question by Hope: Israel and Poverty…?
Is Israel a rich country? if it is why is 80% of the country poor? Does Israel put all there money in there military? Is most of Israel poor or am I wrong? Where is all of Israeli’s money going?

Best answer:

Answer by Casey
80% of Israel is not poor. Israel does have poverty like most Western countries do, but it’s per capita GDP is on a par with Spain and Greece. They do invest heavily in their military but they also invest heavily in social programs including universal health care

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8 thoughts on “Israel and Poverty…?”

  1. Like the majority of the population, the majority of inhabitants are poor. Those with wealth keep it to themselves, and are not being very charitable at this time. It is war time, and rather than helping one another, we find people fighting one another on all levels. A strong group of tight knit people can defeat any opposition. They just have to come together and unite against the hatred and defeat the real enemy, those who are looking to divide and conquer.

  2. Israel spends a huge budget on “security” and its military forces to build a “separation wall” and to continue its conflict with Palestine. Behind the scenes, however, domestic poverty has increased dramatically. One third of children live below the poverty line, and the number of poor recorded is at the highest level since Israel came into being.
    After the reduction in social security expenditures under the former Likud government, middle class people have also fallen into poverty, and there are many homeless in towns. Although the overall economic situation seems to be getting better, critics say that only the rich people are getting richer. The new Kadima government has discussed some improvement policies; however, there is as yet no indication of an upturn.

    Under the strong sunshine, about 200 volunteers were picking strawberries on a farm in Raanana, in the middle of Israel. “We are collecting strawberries for poor families in an orthodox people‚Äôs town,” said Dalit Rochman, a coordinator of community relations for an NGO named “Table to Table.”

    “Table to Table” collects excess foodstuffs from restaurants and wedding centers, fruits and vegetables that farmers cannot gather, and products which companies cannot sell in the market because the expiration dates are imminent, then supplies them to more than 60 non-profit agencies throughout Israel, including food banks, homeless shelters, afternoon clubs for youth and seniors’ residences. According to the organization, the amount is more than 100 tons a month.

    “The number of poor people has increased dramatically. Last year, especially, was terrible. Before, many poor families were those whose parents were on unemployment or with a lot of children. But now, more and more families cannot buy enough food, even though both parents are working,” Ms. Rochman said.

    One man, aged 57, came to collect about 600 packs of strawberries picked by volunteers this day and said, “Many families cannot afford to buy strawberries. Children will be really glad and jump when they see strawberries.”

    The number of poor families exceeded 400,000 in 2005 for the first time since the nation’s founding, reaching 403,400, according to the 2004-2005 semi-annual poverty report published by the National Insurance Institution (NII) in January 2006. This translates into 1,580,000 individuals, of whom 47 percent are children. In other words, one in five families and one in three children lives below the poverty line, which in January 2006 stood at 1,804 NIS (US$ 403) for a single person and 4,618 NIS (US$ 1,032) for a family of four.

    According to statistics of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the average real annual economic growth surpassed 5 percent between 1985 and 2000. The depression in the high-tech industries whic drive the Israeli economy, the deterioration of the security situation, and the world economic slump hit the economy. In 2001, Israeli economic growth went negative for the first time.

    On the other hand, the new economic plan, begun in 2003, has cut the social welfare budget dramatically. “If social allowances are cut, people who live by the money from the government have to work for themselves,” the Finance Ministry insisted. In addition to unemployment benefits, birth and family allowances and welfare for those on low income and the disabled were cut. Furthermore, the budgets for medical care and education and home loans were reduced.

    As a result, the number of needy increased. While the number of poor families was 292,500 in 1998, it went up to 366,300 in 2003, 394,200 in 2004, and 403,400 in 2005, according to the NII. Children in poor families cannot get enough food. They skip meals, and some, in extreme cases, do not eat for whole days. The meal itself is mainly carbohydrates. The meat, dairy products, fruits and vegetables apparently run short. An NGO staffer who works with poor children in the Tel-Aviv area said, “There are many children who can eat hot meals only in our institution. Their families are poor, so they eat bread and a small amount of vegetables. Those children cannot focus on studying in schools because of hunger.”

    Latet, an Israeli humanitarian aid organization, has more data. Ninety percent of its 113 cooperating organizations reported that the demand for food increased by 25 percent in 2005 and by 28 percent during the Jewish Passover holiday in 2006, compared to previous years.

    Furthermore, 13 percent of the needy require permanent medical treatment, while 75 percent of them renounce health care because of their economic situation.
    Hili Ziv, a spokeswoman of the organization, said, “We are witnessing a phenomenon of newcomers to the needy population. Today, one out of six supported by the our member organizations was formerly middle class.”

    Among them, Israeli Arabs occupy a more severe situation. Mossawa, an advocacy center for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, said that one third of all poor families are Israeli-Arabs, constituting one half of the Arab population. It estimates that 60 percent of all Arab children in Israel live below the poverty line.

    “Not only food but also clothing and shoes are lacking. A lot of children have to give up going to school because of poverty,” Jafar Farah, the director of organization, said.

    In recent years, the Israeli economy has been improving, and real economic growth increased by five percent in 2005. The unemployment rate has fallen to nine percent, from more than ten percent in 2002. Some analysts say optimistically that an upturn in business and the labor market will contribute to improving the situation.

    However, Joseph Algazy, an Israeli journalist with detailed knowledge of Israeli poverty, said, “I am afraid that we will not be able to see any indication of improvement in this poverty for several years. The rich just get richer and the poor become poorer.”

    Poverty is being caused by globalization, by foreign workers reducing wage levels, and by low levels of education in certain areas that leave only unemployment or low-paying jobs, according to some researchers.

    But Mr. Algazy said, “There are various reasons behind this problem. The thing which is particularly important is that Israel spends too much on the military and the Palestine occupation policy. Another important reason is the government’s social and economic policy. Especially since 2003, the government has cut allowances for the poor and has reduced taxes on the rich. The result is obvious. While the number of poor recorded is the highest, big companies such as banks and drug firms drive earnings growth dramatically.”

    The economic gap issue is not a new problem in Israel, but it is getting bigger and bigger. “I have never seen so many NGOs supplying foods to the poor in Passover and New Year,” Mr. Algazy said.

    Ten to 15 years ago, people felt shame at their poverty. Now, they show their faces on TV. It was a sort of “secret” to go to soup kitchens, which provide meals cheaply or for free. But now, the elderly and children go there nearly every day, because they don’t have any other choice.

    “People don’t feel shame at being poor, because they think that the responsibility is not theirs. They are ready to work, but nobody gives them a job. Some say, ‘I am an elderly person, but I cannot live on a small allowance.’ If you go to the Mahane-Yehuda market in Jerusalem you can see a lot of people searching for food among the litter,” Mr. Algazy said.

    “The new Kadima government could present a social security policy, but it would not solve the issue. In order to change government policy, people need to resist by boycotts and strikes, etc., and, of course, we should not forget to leave the occupied territories and should conclude a peace. The cost of the occupation and colonial policy is very high and onerous,” he emphasized.

  3. i’m from palestine…and israel is a place were the leader and other important people in it spend the money on weapons from the U.S.A to kill the palestineans…i dont live there anymore and thats bcz they kicked me out of my own house!!! israel people are poor but the goverment is rich from the support of america…but even with the support and money they get…the spend it on weapons and killing people instead of feeding their own people.

    how sad!!

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