web analytics
September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Israel’s Greatest Threat


The world likes to believe that threats to Israel’s security by its neighbors are the country’s greatest concern. The narrative of two ancient peoples in one Holy Land fighting for their place in the world is a great story and leads to an uncanny number of headlines, the expenditure of a relatively large percentage of the UN’s energy and resources, and more divisive discussions and actions than are devoted to other – much bloodier – conflicts, such as those in the Congo and Sudan.

Actually, the greatest threat to Israel is poverty.

Believe it or not, despite the growth of the Israeli economy and the country’s unparalleled success in high tech (known to many as the “Start-Up Nation” phenomenon), about 25 percent of Israelis live in poverty.

In November 2010, the National Insurance Institute in Israel released its latest Report on Poverty. The report concluded that in 2009, 123,000 Israelis joined the “circle of poverty” and that 850,000 children and a growing number of working poor are now considered to be living below the poverty line.

It’s clear that poverty in Israel is spiraling out of control.

The gap between rich and poor in Israel is also growing rapidly as the middle class steadily disappears. In 2009, Israel’s middle class made up only 15 percent of the population, a decrease of nearly 20 percent since the 1980s. And the figure continues to shrink. This is dangerous if not deadly to the Israeli economy. A healthy economy is represented by a large middle class of workers with buying power.

While some of the recent statistics were impacted by the global recession, it is far from the whole story. Due to its own earlier troubles, Israel had put conservative banking and fiscal policies in place long before the global crisis, so the international downturn did not hit Israel as hard as it did most other countries. Even so, in 2007 numbers from the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics showed that even when the economy was at its peak, great numbers of Israelis were falling from the middle class and having difficulty putting food on their tables.

No, the global recession is not to blame here. This is an older, more serious problem.

So, then, what is causing this increasing stratification of the haves and have-nots in Israel? Is it the inability of young advancing couples to save enough to buy capital at 40 percent down? Is it the government’s policy of encouraging a culture of not working among haredim? Is it an overly generous social welfare system that leads to people finding it easier to stay home and live off welfare checks than actively seeking employment?

Then there’s the issue of intergenerationalpoverty. Social status affects future wealth. This means that even if a child is intelligent and has high aptitude, the likelihood of success and a favorable position in life is considerably diminished if he or she was born into a poor family.

Instead of setting aside funds to keep the splinter political parties of the coalition happy, why doesn’t the Israeli government set aside funds for poor kids who can’t afford but desperately want a higher education and an opportunity at a career?

Many poor kids drop out of school in order to feed themselves, as they see few future rewards of even bothering to finish high school. A subsistence-items market will not support a strong economy. Where can scholarship money come from? Or money for longer school days? (School ends at around 1 p.m. in public schools in Israel.) Or money for rehabilitation programs for teenagers who have no place to call home?

What is keeping the long-term unemployed at home instead of out in the workplace? Maybe the government should look into implementing more welfare-to-work programs and providing vocational training.

Why are we bringing thousands of foreign workers into the country when we have hundreds of thousands of citizens out of work? Agricultural work and caring for the elderly may not be glamorous, but choosing to stay home instead of working in these fields shows there is a serious problem with the social welfare system, with the work ethic of many Israelis, and with the relevance and effectiveness of the educational system for the poor.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Israel’s Greatest Threat”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
ISIS seized control of Quneitra, at least temporarily, towards the end of August 2014.
Israel Watching Northern Border with Syria, Lebanon
Latest Indepth Stories
IDF lone soldier and  David Menachem Gordon (z"l).

Why has his death been treated by some as an invitation for an emotional “autopsy”?

Starck-091914

SWOT analysis: Assessing resources, internal Strengths&Weaknesses; external Opportunities&Threats.

Kohn-091914

Strategy? For the longest time Obama couldn’t be bothered to have one against a sworn enemy.

Miller-091914

Seventeen visual skills are needed for success in school, sports, and everyday life.

We started The Jewish Press. Arnie was an integral part of the paper.

Fear alone is substantial; without fusing it to beauty, fear doesn’t reach its highest potential.

Fortunate are we to have Rosh Hashanah for repentance, a shofar to awaken heavenly mercy.

Arab leaders who want the US to stop Islamic State are afraid of being dubbed traitors and US agents

National Lawyers Guild:Sworn enemy of Israel & the legal arm of Palestinian terrorism since the ’70s

A little less than 10 percent of eligible Democratic voters came out on primary day, which translates into Mr. Cuomo having received the support of 6.2 percent of registered Democrats.

The reality, though, is that the Israeli “war crimes” scenario will likely be played out among highly partisan UN agencies, NGOs, and perhaps even the International Criminal Court.

Peace or the lack of it between Israel and the Palestinians matters not one whit when it comes to the long-term agenda of ISIS and other Islamists, nor does it affect any of the long-running inter-Arab conflicts and wars.

Rather than serving as a deterrent against terrorist attacks, Israel’s military strength and capabilities are instead looked at as an unfair advantage in the asymmetrical war in which it finds itself.

Sisi:”The religious nature of the Middle East creates challenges for the governing authorities.”

More Articles from Jackie Frankel

The world likes to believe that threats to Israel’s security by its neighbors are the country’s greatest concern. The narrative of two ancient peoples in one Holy Land fighting for their place in the world is a great story and leads to an uncanny number of headlines, the expenditure of a relatively large percentage of the UN’s energy and resources, and more divisive discussions and actions than are devoted to other – much bloodier – conflicts, such as those in the Congo and Sudan.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/israels-greatest-threat/2011/01/19/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: