Growing rift between poor and financially stable sectors of Israeli society, IFCJ survey finds

"Poverty in Israel is perceived as a problem of the poor and not as a significant threat to society,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder of the IFCJ, “these figures are a warning sign."

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November 26, 2014 17:10
2 minute read.
 Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. (photo credit: EDDIE ISRAEL)

Some 95 percent of people living in poverty are pessimistic about their chances to escape their situation a new survey conducted by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews found.

According to the poll, 61% of poor people said their financial condition worsened over the past year, and one of four responded that they knew someone who contemplated committing suicide due to their financial hardships.

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The Fellowship presented the findings at the Sderot Conference for Society at Sapir Academic College, which it conducted to provide a better understanding of the situation of the poor in Israel.

“The survey presents a shocking picture of the separation of Israel’s population into two separate groups and hostile to each other.

Unfortunately poverty in Israel is perceived as a problem of the poor and not as a significant threat to society,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the IFCJ. “These figures are a warning sign for leaders facing the signing of the state budget for the coming year. Israel must act quickly to rehabilitate the weaker classes.

The study was conducted by the Panorama Marketing institute among 500 respondents living in poverty from November 16-21. The findings reflect a +/- 4.5% margin of error.

The poll indicated that 82% of the underprivileged feel the state does not care about the country’s poor, some 61% of respondents said they had lost trust in government institutions.

Meanwhile, 40% said they do not feel as though they are part of Israeli society and a fourth of respondents said they do not plan on voting in the next elections for the Knesset.

Just 40% of those living in poverty said they were willing to send their children to serve in the IDF.

With regard to the treatment of the poor people by society, 31% of respondents reported a contemptuous attitude toward them when receiving medical treatment, while 21% indicated contempt and disregard from teachers in school and 34% said they felt socially alienated by those with better economic means.

The survey also revealed that a third of the poor respondents were willing to demonstrate, block roads and even light tires on fire to protest their financial situation. In addition, 15% of the poor said they feel justified in stealing to obtain basic necessities for their families, while 15% feel justified in threatening public officials to get them to act to improve the situation. Just 5% of the poor respondents said they feel justified in using a weapon to influence change and improve their financial situation.

Eckstein added that in the absence of sufficient action by the state, charitable organizations such as the IFCJ are forced to fill the gaps and help the poor, noting that, in 2015, his organization aims to provide an estimated NIS 250 million to aid hundreds of thousands of the elderly, families and children living in poverty.


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