Photo: Yaron Brener
'Empty pocket and empty stomach will be filled with feelings of humiliation and rage'
Photo: Yaron Brener

Poverty in Israel is a result of policy

Op-ed: It's no coincidence that Israel's leaders – Netanyahu, Bennett, Lapid and Lieberman – are all members of the top echelon.

What would you do if someone threatened, God forbid, to hurt your children? If someone dared to put their life in danger? If someone trampled on their dignity on a daily basis? What would you do to prevent it? Let me guess: More or less anything.



And so the state comptroller's report on food security in Israel, which was published Monday, is much more than just a collection of shameful figures, which people can review and then go back to their routine office work. No, this is a warning sign for all of us: There are many hungry people here, who are barely raising another generation of poor children. And tomorrow, the day after tomorrow at the latest, they will use all means to protect them.


The writing has been on the wall for a long time now. Congratulations are in order: Israel has become the country with the highest poverty rate among OECD members, and excels particularly in poverty among elderly and children, a characteristic of a deep market failure.


This is the result of an years-long policy, year in which the state shrugged off responsibility, cut budgets, reduced pensions and decreased health, education and welfare services. And at the same time, an illogical cost of living. The result of these two things is simply an empty pocket and an empty stomach, which will be filled with feelings of humiliation, rage and, God forbid, violence.


It's no coincidence that the state's leaders – Benjamin Netanyahu, Naftali Bennett, Yair Lapid and Avigdor Lieberman – are all members of the top echelon. These people have never come near starvation in their life. I doubt they can even picture it. They are far away, both practically and ideology, from the basic trust agreement between a man and his state, in the social-democratic society, as well as from guaranteeing the five basics of welfare presented by Ze'ev Jabotinsky (food, housing, clothing, education and health).


No, our elite still believes that "wealth will pour slowly from the top," a theory which has clearly failed miserably. Wealth does not pour down, it remains stuck in the top and is divided between few hands, which from the height of their towers and beyond their bank account balance, can continue ignoring us.


And it's no coincidence that on the day the hunger report was published, the executives of public companies are waging a battle for their "right," the right of sons of gods, to draw insane salaries. NIS 3.5 million ($1 million) a year, and that's after they gave us a discount – the equivalent of a 45-year median salary. When a person earns in one year what an average worker earns his entire life, this place is called Sodom.


And as they say, a chain's strength is measured by its weakest link. One million people, lacking food security, on the eve of Passover in 2014. It's time for us to understand that a more egalitarian society is an interest shared by all of us, and first of all by those of us with means. Because tomorrow, the day after tomorrow at the latest, a satiated child and a famished child will meet at a crossroad.


פרסום ראשון: 04.08.14, 21:08
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