Majority of Israel’s poor: State doesn’t care about us

New survey finds 65% of the poor population said they had lost faith in state institutions.

December 14, 2016 14:23
2 minute read.
Homeless Israel

Homeless person on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The great majority of poor people in Israel, 87%, believes the state “does not care” about them, according to survey the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews released on Wednesday.

“Poverty is not just a matter of values, but a real threat to the resilience of Israeli society and its ability to sustain a society that is functioning and shows solidarity,” said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the IFCJ.

Sixty-five percent of respondents said they had lost faith in state institutions, such as the Knesset, the government and the courts.

The survey also found that 43% of the poor do not feel as though they are a part of Israeli society. As such, 29% said they do not vote in elections and only 37% said they would send their children to serve in the IDF.

Some 22% of the respondents said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is indifferent to their needs and improperly handling the treatment of the underprivileged.

The respondents said the responsibility of taking care of the poor lies first and foremost with the entire government and then, in declining order of responsibility, with the prime minister, the finance minister, the labor and social services minister and the National Insurance Institute.

Only 4% said the poor are responsible for their financial situation.

The survey asked the respondents to provide the names of MKs or ministers who are working to better the conditions of the poor. Some 55% said they believed there were no MKs working on their behalf, while 10.5% named Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, 10.1% named MK Shelly Yacimovich, 7.3% said Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman and 7.1% said Interior Minister Arye Deri.

Labor and Social Services Minister Haim Katz had the confidence of only 2.3% of the respondents, while Yesh Atid Party chairman Yair Lapid, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and opposition leader Isaac Herzog were not named by any of the respondents as caring about the situation of the poor.

One out of every four poor people said they were depressed, while 29% said they know someone who thought about committing suicide due to their socioeconomic situation.

Additionally, only 21% of the needy believe their children will be better off financially than they are, while 25% said they would prefer to leave Israel and move to another country if they were given the opportunity.

“The worrisome statistics and severity of poverty, alongside this survey, should be a wakeup call to the leaders of our country and its citizens,” said Eckstein. “It is time that the Israeli government declares an all-out war against poverty and handle the situation with the same determination and the same budgets which it allocates for dealing with external security threats.”

Eckstein said the state of poverty was the result of long-standing government policy.

“The Start-Up and Innovative Nation is capable, if it so desires, to minimize poverty and the gaps to a minimum and to stop wallowing at the bottom of the list of developed countries in everything related to social issues,” he said.

The survey was conducted by the Shvakim-Panorama Research Institute via telephone interviews of 494 respondents representing a cross section of society, excluding Arab Israelis, during December 11-16. The margin of error is ±4.5%.

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