An article from the Wednesday, December 29,
2004 issue of Haaretz
Poverty rate in Israel Higher than NII says
By Ruth Sinai, Haaretz Correspondent
Wed., December 29, 2004 Tevet 17, 5765
The poverty rate in Israel is at
least 30 percent higher
than the measurement by the National Insurance Institute,
according to Dr. Daniel Gotlieb, a senior adviser
to Bank of Israel Governor David Klein.
Gotlieb suggests adopting a different method for measuring poverty
so that it will be possible to adopt a more
effective policy for treating the problem.
Gotlieb, an economist from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in
Be'er Sheva, examined four different standards
for measuring poverty. He found that on the basis of the method
used in the United States, the rate of poor families
in Israel reaches 28 percent; according to the Canadian standard,
the rate drops to 24 percent; the method proposed
by the National Research Council in the U.S. lowers the rate
further to 23 percent; and the Israeli method calculates
the rate of poverty in Israel for 2002 at 18 percent.
Gotlieb's calculations are based on data for 2002. According to
the Poverty Report for 2003, the rate of poor families
in Israel rose to 19.3 percent; Gotlieb believes he would have
also had higher figures had he used the 2003 data.
The American standard for measuring poverty is based on the sum of
money an individual or a family requires
for basic needs, such as food, housing and clothing.
The measure used in Israel is based on the income of individuals
or of families, relative to others.
In Canada, the system is based on expenditures on essentials, such
as food, clothing, housing, transportation and education,
and on income, both from wages and assets.
Gotlieb believes the Canadian method is more appropriate for
Israel and recommends that, in addition to revenues,
public services that depend on where one lives also be included.
When Gotlieb used the Canadian system to measure poverty in
Israel, he also included a broad criterion of basic needs,
such the cost of a proper food basket according to nutritional
values set by the Health Ministry.
The Israeli system does not take this into account, focusing only
When using the Canadian and Israeli systems, Gotlieb found
significant disparities in poverty rates.
For example, using the Canadian system, 40 percent of the new
immigrants were poor, compared to 21 percent
with the Israeli method; similarly, 37 percent of single-parent
families were poor according to the Canadian method,
compared to 26 percent using the Israeli system.
The reason for the difference, Gotlieb said, is the housing
element: new immigrants and single-parent families spend
more on housing because they do not own homes.
Gotlieb also found a significant disparity when using the two
systems for families with two incomes:
9 percent according to the Canadian system and 2 percent according
to the NII.
"The choice in the poverty standard is the first step for a
rational policy," Gotlieb said.
The great advantage of the current system is in its simplicity and
the fact that it is acceptable in many countries
in the world. But Gotlieb said it is not accurate enough for a
country like Israel, where there are cultural, religious
and ideological differences between the different poor sectors.
He points to the paradox in Israel, where the number of poor
increases as the economic conditions improve,
because the poverty line rises and more people are left below it.
Under such conditions, it is difficult to convince politicians to
direct funding toward fighting poverty, he says.
An article in the December 4th issue of Maariv International
Annual poverty report paints bleak picture
1.426 million people in Israel (22.4%
live below poverty line, 119,000 more than previous year.
December 4th, 2004 /
21 Kislev 5765
During the year 2003, 1.426
million people in Israel, which represent 22.4% of the population,
lived below the poverty line, in comparison with 1.3
million the previous year, the annual
poverty report published by the National Insurance Institute (NII)
Over 360,000 families are defined
as poor. The number of poor children rose from 618,000 in 2002
to 652,000 the following year.
According to NII data, an average
salary intake of a poor family with only one supporter stands at
NIS 1,736 per month, while with two providers it reaches a low of
NIS 2,777 a month.
The difference between the average
salary in Israel and the poverty line rose from 29.7% in 2002
to 30.5% in 2003.
In addition, the number of elderly
people under the poverty line increased to 22.8% of
the elderly population.
In total, nearly 119,000 people
went under the poverty line during 2003.
NII Director Dr. Yigal Ben Shalom strongly criticized Israel’s
financial policy and
the man who stands behind it - Finance Minister Benjamin
“In my opinion, the finance
minister has an economic vision that completely lacks any social
I believe there is no economy without society. Netanyahu must
An article in the November 1st issue of Maariv International
One in five children go to bed without supper
New survey by Health Ministry shows
poverty much more pervasive than previously estimated
1st, 2004 / 17 Cheshvan 5765
A new survey on children’s health and
welfare taken by the health ministry highlights the degree which
have been victimized by the economic situation and the growing
6,487 seventh to twelfth grade youth throughout the country
participated in the survey, which included the following
question “ Do you ever go to bed hungry, without having eaten
Over 18% of the respondents answered in the affirmative, that at
least once a week there is no food in their homes,
and they have to go to bed without having eaten a proper meal.
Among the Jewish population the number of malnourished children
Among the Arab population one in three children are poverty
stricken to the point of malnutrition.
The survey showed that in addition to those families unable to
guarantee a reasonable food supply to their children,
many more are forced to give their children unbalanced diets,
based almost entirely on carbohydrates and starches,
with insufficient protein and vitamins. “The long term
ramifications of this kind of under-nutrition are significant”,
said Dr. Nitzan Kllosky, who was in charge of the project for the
Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, Chairman of the Child Welfare Council, a
children and youth rights watchdog organization
lambasted the state for what he called “years of benign and not so
benign neglect that have produced the current
situation”. He said that there is a direct correlation between the
surge in school violence and the results of the survey.
“A hungry kid is much more likely to be violent that one an
adequately fed one, due to both emotional (anger, frustration,
jealousy) and organic (reduced capacity to control temper and
impulsive behavior) factors.
MK Ran Cohen (Yahad), a long time proponent of social justice said
that the survey shows just how far Israel
has towards becoming a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah.
article in an August issue of Ha'aretz
550,000 forsake food, medicine due to
Haaretz Correspondent, Einav Ben-Yehuda and Haaretz Service
Mon., August 09,
2004 Av 22, 5764
Fourteen percent of Israelis aged 20 and over - an estimated
550,000 people - have forsaken food purchases
in the past year due to financial difficulties, while half a
million passed up on buying needed medications in 2003,
according to a study commissioned by the Central Bureau of
The annual study
also revealed that 46 percent do not manage to cover their monthly
The CBS study - based on a poll taken among a sample of 7,200
Israelis aged 20 and over from all regions of the country
- also found that 65 percent are in need of dental care yet 45
percent - over one million Israelis - did not seek treatment.
Thirty percent of respondents do not have complementary health
insurance because of the additional costs.
Fifty-four percent of Israelis have also given up on clothes and
The study further found that 14 percent of those polled say they
"felt poor" in the last year and a similar number
reported that in 2002 their phone or electric line was
disconnected. Fifty-nine percent forwent basic household
Thirty-eight percent of polled Israelis forwent heating and air
conditioning in their homes due to lack of money
and 37 percent do not believe their financial situation will
change for the better.
statistician Professor Shlomo Yitzhaki said the governments and
the Finance Ministry have refrained
from publishing critical data on social welfare since the 1970s,
Israel Radio reported.
A June 2004 article by
Arlene Peck, a Hollywood based talk-show host and culture critic
Hunger in Israel: Never Thought
I'd See the Day
view this article online at:
Monday 7 June 2004
Being out here in
Tinsel Town, we sometimes become a bit jaded about what is really
happening in the rest of the
world. The Hollywood crowd is so insulated that most of them don't
even know that there is a war going on
and wouldn't know where to find Israel on the map.
I speak on that topic
often on Christian Radio, Front Page Jerusalem. They
broadcast to well over a hundred
cities across the United States. Thank God; there are good
Christians out there who are supporting Israel because
I don't often find the necessary concern from the rest of the
population. They however, like I, are concerned
that the celebrities, Jewish or otherwise, are not supporting
People, Jewish people
here in the land of Hollywood, are over-programmed and are being
hit upon by every
group from Save the Whales to fighting AIDS in Africa Fund. Most
of the times, the thought of diverting any
of the charity dollars into Israel is never even considered. I am
appalled by the total lack of identity that is biologically
Jewish but with no conception as to what that means.
of the Hollywood crowd that can afford to finance or make a
difference in the Israeli charities
is totally assimilated. I find them so lacking in Jewish identity
that it never even occurs to them that their Jewish
brothers in Israel might need money for basic things like food.
Occasionally, you'll get a Jason Alexander who will
offer to fly there and take a poll to solve the Arab/Israel
crowd spends a fortune at spas to diet away unwanted pounds. These
indulgent celebrities aren't even aware that there are actually
children in Israel who are going hungry! Actually,
to tell the truth, I was amazed that the situation has gotten so
serious in Israel that there are now programs
like Hazon Yeshaya soup Kitchens, "Adopt-a-hungry- child" to make
a difference to replace hunger with hope.
It seems the savage
and senseless Intifada over the past few years has caused the
number of Israeli children who
live below the poverty line to be approximately 30% and climbing.
That translates to over 690,000 Jewish children
living in Israel who are going to bed hungry.
Ironic how, one of
the fears that we in America have is that school children are
becoming obese because of lack
of exercise and over indulgence in 'junk food.' Yet, amazingly
enough, children in Israel, as young as ten, have
been arrested in the act of stealing food to quell their hunger.
According to a recent
poverty statistic from Haaretz, nationwide, one out of five
Israelis, including a quarter
of Israeli children, live below the poverty line. And, their
poverty line is a lot lower than what is considered
poverty in Beverly Hills.
Recently, I had an
opportunity to meet with Abraham Israel, the director and founder
of Hazon Yeshaya nationwide
soup kitchens. I was amazed when this wonderful man told me that
he and his terrific organization are quietly providing
more than 120,000 hot meals each month to those that need them the
most in Israel. And the lines grow longer every day.
Over here, we yawn
when the homeless stand on corners. The issue of homelessness and
hunger would never
even arise when it came to the Jewish State. Yet it has. So there
are those like the good Rabbi who are there to
offer hot meals and encouragement to the homeless, elderly,
disabled, and poor children with Downs Syndrome
and/or special needs, distribute clothes and shoes to Israel's
needy to make them feel less so.
Oh, and let's not
forget the 1,000 Holocaust survivors who they feed a day. Folks,
there is a waiting list of
9,000 more Holocaust victims waiting to be fed when funding is
Of course, there are
a lot of things in Israel that I would have never thought.
Who would have
thought that an organization called Efrat (the Committee for the
Rescue of Israel's Babies)
would be needed? Last year it saved the lives of 1,336 babies in
Israel by providing financial support to their mothers
who were considering abortion due to financial concerns. This year
looks even more dismal.
are 50,000 abortions in Israel every year, most of which are done
for economic concerns.
As an American, who knows how long the waiting list is for babies
is here in this country, I found it difficult to
believe that more Jewish children are lost to abortion in Israel
(two million since 1948) than were lost in the
Holocaust. But that's why organizations like Efrat were started to
reach out to these women.
I receive e-mails and
have meet so many representatives from Jewish groups coming out of
for help that sometimes it is mind-boggling to think of all the
causes that we need to support.
I recently spent some
time with Pinchas Gruber from the Shomrum Foundation. He heads a
large group of
settlements and educated me on how the children of Israel have
forgotten to laugh. So, they send clowns
and a traveling circus just to give them a few tension free hours.
They live in fear of just going to the dentist who
is in another city. So a dental van comes to them so they won't
have to take the chance that one of these
savage snipers will kill them on the way to getting their teeth
The kids in the
Shomron Development Fund are going hungry but they still provide
food packages to about
200 families twice a month. And, they have a waiting list of
another 200. They have to distribute the food late
in the evening in their bulletproof truck so that their neighbors
don't know that they are receiving assistance.
This damn intifada has affected everybody.
poverty is, in part, also due to the constant attempts by Western
countries to place boycotts
on Israeli products. Though, luckily, so far these attempts have
had only a limited affect, but nevertheless, they are
a factor to be considered. In addition the 18% VAT tax that is put
on their own people for food brought into the
country cuts into their ability to buy the very food that's most
I suppose I'm getting
carried away. But, the point I want to bring out is that there are
groups that I, and most of
my fellow Americans, never even knew existed.
Who would a think
that the land of Milk and Honey was running out of food for their
Arlene Peck is an
internationally syndicated columnist and television talk show
She travels extensively worldwide, reporting to her audience about
political events, social happenings
(Cannes Film Festival, London event for the Variety Club, etc.)
and "must see" spots.
If there is a place to see and be seen, she'll write about it for
her international audience.
column is read weekly by millions and her television show (Wow!
It's Arlene Peck!)
can be seen throughout Southern California every Monday night.
2004 article in Haaretz -
the number of poor has risen five percent and the poor are
increasingly relatively poorer than before
1.3m Israelis now live below the
May 11th, 2004
Ruth Sinai, Haaretz Correspondent
After four stable years the number of poor families in Israel last
year grew by more than five percent to 18.5 percent
of all families in the country. This means another 15,000 families
joined the cycle of poverty to bring the total to 340,000.
The National Insurance Institute published the figures yesterday
as part of a wider survey of the effects of the five economic
programs approved by the Knesset in the years 2002 and 2003 -
exact figures for 2003 will be available in six months.
Earlier NII figures indicated 1.281 million poor people (21.2
percent of the population) in the country in 2003, and 1,212,000
(20 percent) in 2002. In 2001, 17.7 percent of the population was
poor, about the same as in the previous four years.
The sudden growth in the number of poor families can be attributed
to various factors, including the NIS 5.5 billion cut in
NII budgets in the past two years which brought their real value
down by an average of 7.2 percent.
According to the figures in the survey, old age payments lost 10
percent of their buying power in the past two years and the
guaranteed income allowance went down by some 20 percent. Single
family allowance dropped by 28 percent and child
allowances for families with two children dropped by 20 percent on
The stiffening of criteria for unemployment assistance led to a
sharp decrease so that the number of unemployed receiving
dole stood at 23 percent in 2003 compared to 39 percent in 2001.
Dr Yigael Ben-Shalom, head of the NII, noted that contrary to
social policy in the previous 30 years - when the allowances
were linked to the average wage so that recipients could enjoy the
same improvements as the rest of the population -
starting in 2006 they are due to be linked to price rises.
He says this will lead to even greater poverty since the rest of
the population will enjoy larger incomes, while those
getting allowances will remain in the same place.
Ben-Shalom also believes the current signs of improvement in the
economy will not be felt in coming years in the lowest
income groups. The survey reveals that most of the burden of the
economic recovery in the past two years was borne by
the low income groups.
While the standard of living of the general population dropped by
4.6 percent on average, that of the lowest decile dropped
12 percent and the second lowest decile by 7 percent. As a result,
poor families got even poorer - their average pay was
30 percent or more below the poverty line in 2003.
2004 article in Haaretz -
official statistics report 30% of Israel's children living below
the poverty line.
30% of Israeli children living below the poverty line
April 21st 2004
Ruth Sinai, Haaretz Correspondent
Almost 30 percent of
Israeli children live below the poverty line, the head of the
National Insurance Institute,
Dr. Yigal Ben Shalom, said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the
Inter-Disciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Ben Shalom said that
some 40,000 children
had slipped below the poverty line in 2003. There were now
approximately 660,000 poor children in the country.
Ben Shalom said that
he decided to publish the figures now, rather than in the annual
NII report on poverty
due out in November, in an attempt to influence the Finance
Ministry in its decisions on the 2005 budget.
He called on the
treasury to stop the gradual cut to child allowance payments,
which began in 2002 and
by 2009 is meant to stand at NIS 144 per month per child.
Ben Shalom said that
the state would go from spending NIS 7.4 billion annually on the
NIS 3.8 billion a year, and the effects of these cuts can already
be seen on the ground.
He warned that the slash to allowances would merely deepen child
December 2004 report from the
Israel National Council for the Child
reports the number of children afflicted by desperate poverty
increased by 10 percent from 2003 to 2004
-- an addition of some 60,000 children.
Melchior: 60,000 more poor
children in 2003
December 25, 2004
By Jonathan Lis
Rabbi Michael Melchior, Labor MK
and Chairman of the National Council for the Child, told
Israel Radio Thursday
that in 2003 the number of children living below the
poverty level increased by some 60,000,
constituting a rise of about 10 percent over 2002 figures,
According to Wednesday's figures,
nearly half of Israel's children (40 percent) live in
and delinquency and another 30 percent could slip into a
Only 30 percent could be said to have a "happy" childhood,
Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, director of the
National Council for the Child, said Wednesday.
The council's statistical
yearbook paints a grim picture of childhood and youth in
Israel, showing an increase
over recent years in the number of poor children, children
addicted to drugs and alcohol, and victims of violence and
"Children in Israel 2003,"
compiled by Drl Asher Ben Arye, Yafa Zionit and Galit Krijack,
sees a children's society
that has become polarized and ruptured.
In 2002 close to a third of
Israel's children (29.6 percent) were below the poverty line.
The number of children, including those in East Jerusalem, was
656,000. Despite fluctuations in the percentage
of poor children through the `90s, there was a clear rise in
the number living in poverty. More than half (54.4 percent)
of the non-Jewish children live below the poverty line. This
is 2.5 times higher than the percentage of Jewish children
below the poverty line (20.4 percent). The higher the social
and economic standard of a town or community,
the fewer children live there. In the poorest communities
children are 60 percent of the population, compared to
just 22 percent in wealthier ones. In Bnei Brak 50.6 percent
of the children are poor; in Jerusalem 38.3 percent are poor
(not including East Jerusalem), and in Ashdod 33.3 percent are
below the poverty line. By contrast, in Ramat Gan and
Rishon Lezion, children below the poverty line are little more
than 9 percent.
The number of children living on income supplement has
risen 220 percent since 1995.
More than 300,000 children live in families living on income
supplement from the NII (National Insurance Institute).
The report reveals a startling
rise in crime among minors and young victims of violence and
Between 1990 and 2002, the number of cases reaching the Youth
Court rose by 50.1 percent from 6,655 to 10,021.
Since 1995 the number of minors
suspected of offenses increased from 8.4 percent to 8.8
percent in 2002,
and 34,000 minors were suspected of criminal offenses, about
half of them involving violence.
New immigrant teenagers are 12.9
percent of the population, but 24.1 of minors suspected of
are new immigrants, whose numbers have tripled since 1993.
Most of the teenagers involved are aged 12-15.
Of the suspected cases opened on
minors, 41.3 percent are for non-Jewish youth, and more than
90 percent of these
were for security offenses. Police received reports of 2,887
cited for violence in educational institutions in the past
Jews made up 68 percent of
children born in Israel at the end of 2002. In 2003, 70
percent of the children in Israel
were Jewish, compared to 75 percent in 1995.
Israeli society is growing older,
the report says. At the end of 2002 the state's 2,219,200
children were 33.5 percent
of the population, compared to 39.2 percent in 1970. The
average number of children per family has dwindled
since 1980 from 2.7 to 2.3 children in 2002, and the number of
single-child families has doubled.
Some 141,737 of the children
living in Israel do not have full Israeli citizenship - 71
percent live in East Jerusalem,
29 percent are children of legal foreign workers in Israel,
children of immigrants of unclear status, and children from
mixed marriages of Israeli Arabs and Palestinians.
"Israeli society is deluding
itself if it thinks it can give up 40 percent of its children
who are the citizens of its future,"
Kadman said Wednesday, as he presented the yearbook to the
"There is no chance Israeli
society will be able to exist in 20 years, standing on the
spindly legs of 30 percent of its children.
This criminal negligence of a considerable portion of Israel's
children who are living in poverty, sickness and neglect
is going to cost the state dearly in every way," he said.
The ADVA annual report for 2003 finds that 72 percent of
Israelis are making less than half the national average
Report: 72 percent of Israelis earn less than the average
December 29, 2004
By Ruth Sinai, 12/29/03
According to the annual
report of the Adva Center for Equality and Social Justice
issues in Israeli society,
the economic situation of Israel's richest 10 percent
improved over the past decade, while the situation of
all the other sectors, including, for the first time, the
upper middle class, deteriorated.
The report, which is based on
figures released by the Central Bureau of Statistics,
showed that despite the recession
of the past two years, Israel's richest 10 percent enjoyed
improved earnings. The increase is attributed mainly to a
executives' salaries in the business sector. In 1994, top
managers earned an average of 30 times the minimum wage.
In 2002, their wages were 36 times greater.
The real cost of wage of a senior manager in one of the
490 companies traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange
can be as high as NIS 119,000 a month. The real cost of
the wages of a senior manager in a Tel Aviv 100 company
(the index monitoring the 100 largest companies traded on
the stock exchange) averages around NIS 243,000 a month.
According to the report, many managers also enjoy generous
remuneration packages, including stock options.
While the share of the
richest 10 percent of Israelis of total income increased
by 5.6 percent between 1990 and 2002,
the share of the second richest 10 percent remained
stable. The share of the remaining percentiles decreased
by 0.4 to 0.8 percent.
The average income of the richest 10 percent of households
is NIS 41,835, compared to an average income of
NIS 3,108 in the poorest 10 percent of household.
Most Israelis - 72 percent - earn less than the average
wage, roughly NIS 7,000 a month.
Nearly 30 percent of Israelis earn minimum wage or less, a
3 percent increase over figures from 1994.
The report also revealed that
the average monthly income per household in the top 10
percent is 14 times higher
than that of the bottom 10 percent.
The authors of the report are
not optimistic as to the prospects of reducing economic
gaps in Israeli society in the future.
"In the past two years, the
government has initiated six large budget cuts, which
resulted in significant blows
to welfare, education, healthcare and housing. In
addition, the government has reduced public sector jobs.
All combined, the blows are expected to exacerbate
poverty, lower the standard of living of wide sectors of
and hurt the chances of the younger generation to develop
and base itself," the authors determined.
An excerpt of a special
report prepared by a correspondent of Jewish Federation
Hunger hits Kiryat Malachi
By Dina Tanners
"My daughter told me not to come inside here to eat, but I
am hungry and I have no food in my home," said the
middle-aged woman standing outside of the soup kitchen,
formerly the police headquarters of Kiryat Malachi,
Rabbi Petachia Lipsker, one of the workers of the Meir
Panim soup kitchen in Kiryat Malachi, had seen the woman
for several days and went outside to talk to her. After
listening to her dilemma, he invited her in to help in the
kitchen, and when she left, she took a packet of food for
her "neighbor." She was therefore able to help others in
need have something to eat and not go against her
I recently visited Kiryat Malachi again to volunteer, and
Rabbi Petachia told me how this woman continues to come
daily to help in the kitchen and then take food to "her
neighbor." Seven others do the same - they help in the
kitchen and then say the food they take is not for
themselves, so they don't have to feel that societal
With the sad state of the economy, the need for soup
kitchens and food banks in
is increasing daily. Israel has entered a new state of
adversity. The economic crisis has increased the past two
years; unemployment is high - at 16 percent in Kiryat
Malachi – and hunger is a growing problem. In a survey
conducted from March to May 2003, 22 percent of Israelis
reported a problem with getting adequate and appropriate
food. Their diets are heavy in wheat products, potatoes,
and rice; therefore, they consume less of all of the
essential nutrients. Eight percent of Israeli households -
approximately 150,000 homes - reported severe food
insecurity. Not only do they forgo balanced meals but they
also skip or reduce the size of their meals, and in
extreme cases, avoid eating for an entire day.
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