street children egypt 311.
(photo credit: The Media Line)
Children at risk in the Arab sector are less likely to get assistance from
social welfare services than Jewish children in similar situations, according to
a study published on Wednesday by Sikkuy – The Association for the Advancement
of Civic Equality in Israel.
“The Ministry of Welfare and Social Services
operates an unequal policy in caring for Jewish and Arab children at risk,”
according to the study, which was presented at the organization’s annual
conference in Haifa.
“Inequality between Jews and Arabs in Israel causes
grave harm to Arab citizens and is a harsh blow to the principle of equality
that should serve as the foundation for government and democracy in Israel,” Ali
Haider and Ron Gerlitz, Sikkuy’s coexecutive directors, said at the
The study, titled “Obstacles to Opportunity – Profile of
obstacles and policy recommendations toward Arab-Jewish equality in Israel,”
“offers an in-depth investigation in various fields revealing a disturbing
picture of discrimination and unequal policies,” the two directors
Among the main areas examined by Sikkuy researchers for the report
were the Welfare Ministry’s policies regarding the care provided for children at
risk from birth through age three, including the availability of day care
centers for such children in Arab neighborhoods.
investigation and analysis of statistics revealed a disturbing picture of
unequal policies and discrimination between Jewish and Arab children at risk,”
the study’s authors wrote.
They found that the proportion of at-risk
Jewish children in such day care facilities was twice that of Arab youngsters,
with one in five Jewish children compared to one out of every 10 Arab children
The authors also noted a phenomenon of
under-identification by the authorities of at-risk Arab children, with 70
percent of Jewish children in poor homes recognized by welfare authorities and
only 33% of Arab children in poor homes.
In addition, said the report,
the Welfare Ministry’s flagship program for children at risk, known as the
Schmidt Plan – which was declared at its launch three years to be an
equal-policy program that cares for all citizens – discriminates in funding for
Jewish and Arab children.
The average budget per participating Arab child
is 70% of the amount earmarked for participating Jewish child, the researcher
found, and only 2% of day care centers are in Arab communities.
researchers also examined the accessibility of the Justice Ministry’s Legal Aid
offices to the Arab public and found that the geographic distribution of Legal
Aid offices was unequal and does not adequately provide for the needs of the
A spokeswoman for the Welfare Ministry wrote in a written
response to the report that its policies aim to reduce the gaps in the system
that exist between the Jewish and non-Jewish sectors.
“In this regard,
the Minister of Welfare and Social Services Isaac Herzog and the ministry’s
director- general Nachum Itzkovitz, since entering their positions in April
2007, have launched numerous initiatives to tackle this problem,” the
She added that Itzkovitz was present at Wednesday’s
conference and highlighted to those attending the efforts of his office to
reduce the gaps in treatment between Jews and Arabs, including increasing the
number of Arab children at risk in group homes and government-paid transport for
children with mental disabilities to day care centers.
Out of around 60
social welfare enrichment centers that opened between 2008 and 2010, 33 were
established in Arab neighborhoods, the spokeswoman said. In addition, nine of
the 25 community support centers that were opened were in the Arab sector.