Say that again....


By Geoffrey Paul
October 4, 2010
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While the number of millionaires in Israel soared by 43% in just one year, from 2008 to 2009, a rate bested only by Hong Kong and India, Israeli charities, quoted in the Hebrew press, report that " at least 223,000 families suffer from what is referred to as ‘nutritional insecurity’ - a state in which a person has no regular access to essential nourishment”. In plain English, they are hungry. In truth, poverty in Israel, statistically, is worse than even Turkey and Mexico. Almost one in five Israelis live in poverty, according to OECD guidelines; for children, the rate is nearly one in three. It is reported that some 6 per cent of hungry Israeli children resort to crime to feed themselves and, despite the existence. of many charities intended to alleviate hunger in childhood, thousands of kids are turning up at school every morning having had no breakfast and with no prospect of a hot meal that day.

But the Israeli Government had no difficulty in finding at the very least $17 billion (some £10 billion) to create the infrastructure - just the infrastrucrure, nothing more - for Jewish settlement on the West Bank from where I have heard no reports of Jewish children going hungry. There is surely something wrong somewhere. I wish I could put my finger on it...

COMMENTS

telegramsam

Mon, 10/04/2010 - 21:45

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That $17 billion is for one year. Over 43 years, just think how many more billions the Israelis have squandered. That's how many schools, hospitals, decent roads and rail? That would have saved how many factories in development towns (still schnorrering development towns after 63 years, a disgrace in and of itself)? That would build a fantastic new airport away from the hub in the Negev -- wasn't developing the desert Ben-Gurion's dream? -- with fast road and rail links to the south, the centre and the north, drawing jobs where there is high unemployment. It would also free the centre from huge risks, because a recent report spelled out just how dangerous it was to fly in and out of Ben Gurion Airport, because of overcrowded skies.
There could have been proper industry and infrastructure in Galil, where non-Jews now outnumber Jews. Just think about that. Who knows, maybe Jews would have been encouraged to go there instead of Maaleh Whatever or Mitzpeh Ochelchinam.
But no, the swivel-eyed messianists and ultra-nationalists had to get their way. And all Israelis are reaping what they have sown.


Jonathan Hoffman

Tue, 10/05/2010 - 00:17

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The poverty data for Israel always make it look worse than it is -- because Israel uses a relative measure of poverty, not an absolute one (like most countries)!


happygoldfish

Tue, 10/05/2010 - 00:24

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geoffrey, since you've not given any sources (links) to substantiate anything you've said, i'll do exactly the same

at least 223,000 families suffer from what is referred to as ‘nutritional insecurity’ - a state in which a person has no regular access to essential nourishment”

‘nutritional insecurity’ (or ‘food insecurity’) does not mean insufficient nourishment, it only means that the nourishment comes from charities, or government handouts

since they are getting sufficient nourishment, it is difficult to see how extra money would make any difference!

Almost one in five Israelis live in poverty, according to OECD guidelines; for children, the rate is nearly one in three.

erm … poverty is defined relative to an average, so most countries have a substantial proportion living in poverty … the israeli figures are fairly normal for a developed country with many high-earners!

It is reported that some 6 per cent of hungry Israeli children …

so that could be just 3 children! who writes this stuff?

There is surely "something wrong" somewhere. I wish I could put my finger on it...

well, since you've provided no sources, i suspect that the "something wrong" that's worrying you is your facts!


telegramsam

Tue, 10/05/2010 - 07:39

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Jonathan, the proliferation of welfare charities such as ezer me'tsion shows that the poverty data shows that it is not worse than it is. It is dreadful that so many Israeli children do not have hot meals because their parents can't afford it. And as Geoffrey writes, none of these children lives in the pampered West Bank colonies, where the state-aided parents don't have to worry about finances.


Geoffrey Paul

Tue, 10/05/2010 - 09:44

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Happy Goldfish might like to start with the latest available report from the Israel National Insurance Institute (there is another one due this month) on poverty and the social gap. It can be found here: http://www.btl.gov.il/English%20Homepage/Publications/Poverty_Report%5CP...
Any of the many domestic aid agencies which strive to provide basic nutrition for needy Israeli children will be only too pleased to provide hard statistics and there are plenty of web sites where Happy Goldfish will be able to gaze from inside his bowl on the distressing truth.


Isca Stieglitz

Tue, 10/05/2010 - 10:00

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A friend of mine works in, what can only be decribed as, a 'soup kitchen' in Israel. It's not an official out let, but is in Hadera.

She has described, for many years, children, adults and older adults coming in with malnutrition. Bearing in mind of course that overweight people can also be malnourished by consuming an 'empty calorie' diet in an attempt to 'feel' full.

There are certainly examples of poverty and malnutrition in the UK; I just feel that again it's not de rigeur for Israel to be viewed in anyway as having these kinds of problems because it doesn't 'fit' with the current vilified image.


Isca Stieglitz

Tue, 10/05/2010 - 10:16

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I forgot to add re: folk living in west bank/judea/samaria.

I can't speak for all, naturally, but I did encounter poverty and neglect. This was mostly in circumstances where there were larger families and the neglect was plain to see in how people were living: cramped, over used hand-me-downs, poor hygiene, ill fitting shoes with holes, clothes which looked unwashed for awhile, generally run down appearance - pallour of skin, cold sores etc.

On the other hand I did see examples of very high, though often modest - possession wise, standards of living.


telegramsam

Tue, 10/05/2010 - 10:22

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Isca, these soup kitchens are a relatively new phenomenon in Israel. I say relative, because the last time Israel had them was in the 50s, during the Tzena (Austerity, for want of a better translation).
Coupled with the rise of the local aid agencies which Geoffrey Paul describes, thus has nothing to do with a "vilified image" and everything to do with the fact that successive Israeli governments of all political stripes preferred to surrender to the settlers and their leadership rather than cater for the real needs of the disadvantaged in its population.
Another problem this squandering of resources has caused is the catastrophic fall in Israeli education standards. Pupils are falling down the achievement leagues at a massive rate. And parents, fed up with overcrowded classrooms (40 is the norm), low standards of learning and lack of discipline, are mistakenly sending their kids to Shas-run Ignorance factories where they might get warm meals, but they won't learn anything useful, such as English, maths or science. These schools, and I use the term advisedly, get massive amounts of state aid -- which more often then not ends up in the pockets of political apparatchiks -- but are not regulated and do not have to teach the core curriculum.
If Israel really cared about the future generations and the welfare of its less well-off, money would be invested in education and industry, not in messianists' and ultra-nationalists' pipe dreams.


happygoldfish

Tue, 10/05/2010 - 10:34

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Geoffrey Paul: … " at least 223,000 families suffer from what is referred to as ‘nutritional insecurity’ - a state in which a person has no regular access to essential nourishment”.

Geoffrey Paul: Happy Goldfish might like to start with the latest available report from the Israel National Insurance Institute (there is another one due this month) on poverty and the social gap. It can be found here …

geoffrey, that link leads only to http://www.btl.gov.il/English%20Homepage/Publications/Poverty_Report/Doc...

to verify your quote, i have done word-searches for "insecurity" "access" and "nourishment", and they do not appear in the document

please do not send me on another wild-goose chase

btw, i forgot to point out …

Geoffrey Paul: But the Israeli Government had no difficulty in finding at the very least $17 billion (some £10 billion) to create the infrastructure - just the infrastrucrure, nothing more - for Jewish settlement on the West Bank …

(again, no source , but anyway …) as the famous eccles once said, everybody's … gotta be … somewhere!

israel has an expanding population, and that means a lot of new-build … if it wasn't on the west bank, it would presumably be the same number of new-build homes in israel …

any expanding country has to balance housing expenditure against social welfare expenditure

new-build requires infrastructure, wherever it is, so surely most of that $17 billion would have been spent anyway?


telegramsam

Tue, 10/05/2010 - 10:53

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Indeed, Goldfish, that $17 billion would have had to have been spent. It would have been better to spend it in Galil and the Negev, areas which will not be relinquished by Israel (one hopes). And, in fact, this massive waste of money -- for that is what it is -- would have bought far more bangs for the bucks, because the $17 billion includes money spent on te army guarding these colonies, building roads for them and putting down other infrastructure. You wouldn't need too much of that in the Galil, and as Israel has proved with the toll road, Route Six, it could probably have got foreign investment for infrastructure in the Negev. Something it can't get in the Occupied Territories (who wants to see their investment go down the Swanney?)


allanlewis

Tue, 10/05/2010 - 11:11

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HappyGoldfish: the israeli [sic] figures are fairly normal for a developed country with many high-earners!

Should Israel aspire to be "normal"? Surely a state originally established on socialist principles should aspire to have a much smaller poverty gap than other similarly-developed countries? Perhaps Israel is better than its neighbours in this respect, but claiming that all is well because some metric is "normal" is fatuous.


telegramsam

Tue, 10/05/2010 - 11:28

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Just a thought, but weren't we supposed to be making the desert green, rather than the West Bank red-roofed?


Geoffrey Paul

Tue, 10/05/2010 - 14:16

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If Happy Goldfish is unhappy with me, then perhaps he/she would care to read the Jerusalem Post report of a survey by Leket an Israeli non-governmental organisation, published on December 29 last, from which I quote just a few sentences:
“ This ‘alternative’ poverty report points to a growing crisis in Israel, partly as a result of the economic slowdown. According to the report, in 2009 there was a 40-percent rise in deaths due to lack of access to medical treatment. Also, 62% of needy families were unable to provide their children with a balanced nutritional diet, and 63% were unable to purchase medicine. Furthermore, there has been a troubling 20% rise in the amount of the needy who contemplated taking their own life. According to the report, the amount of people who are considered 'needy' grew by 15%, and 35% of those receiving assistance for the purchase of foodstuffs are gainfully employed - a jump of 50% from 2007. One of the more troubling statistics was that 6% of the needy steal food, and 20% of those surveyed said that their children had developed violent tendencies due to the economic crisis.”


stephenb

Tue, 10/05/2010 - 21:30

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is happy a man ? what are you people trying to do to me ? where does that leave my fantasies


Watchful Iris (not verified)

Tue, 10/05/2010 - 21:55

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There's always JH.....


happygoldfish

Tue, 10/05/2010 - 23:09

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Geoffrey Paul: … " at least 223,000 families suffer from what is referred to as ‘nutritional insecurity’ - a state in which a person has no regular access to essential nourishment”.

Geoffrey Paul: If Happy Goldfish is unhappy with me, then perhaps he/she would care to read the Jerusalem Post report of a survey by Leket an Israeli non-governmental organisation, published on December 29 last, from which I quote just a few sentences …

still no source given, of course, but i suppose you mean http://www.jpost.com/Home/Article.aspx?id=164594 ?

if so, that's still a wild-goose chase

btw, any chance of a reply to my remarks about the infrastructure (and, i hope, of a source for your figure so that we can see what it does purport to include)?

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