Israelis are still willing to donate to the needy during the upcoming holiday period, despite having given aid to people in the North during the recent war, according to the results of a survey released this week by humanitarian aid organization Latet.
After questioning more than 500 Israelis over the age of 18, the survey found that slightly more than half the country - 51 percent - sent monetary donations, food packages or opened their homes during last month's war, but that will not deter an even larger number of people - 64% - from giving again in time for the Jewish New Year.
Those questioned were also asked whether they believed that there would be many people who could not afford to prepare a decent holiday meal without the help of aid agencies; 91% said they believed that to be true.
"These results are not surprising," said Latet chairman Eran Weintraub. "They highlight again the complete disconnection between the government of this country and its people, their needs and their distress."
A survey conducted earlier this month by Latet found that in the run up to the holiday season, 90% of the charities working with Latet to distribute food parcels had noted a sharp increase (27%) in the number of people requesting aid compared to last year. Twenty four percent of the charities blamed the war with Hizbullah for the rise in requests. That survey also found that an alarming 32% of those requesting aid could not afford to buy basics such as meat or fish for Rosh Hashana without the help of aid agencies.
"The real economic result of this war will be the thousands more joining the ranks of the poor and will only serve to separate Israel into two nations - a rich nation and a poor one," said Weintraub.
He continued: "'Cutbacks' and 'freezes' are words constantly used by the finance minister in the framework of the 'budget following the war,' making it clear that we are still at war fighting against poverty."
Latet's most recent survey also found that the problems of poverty in this country were considered more urgent than those of security. When asked what was more important, poverty or security, 40% of those questioned responded with poverty and 32% with security.
According to the annual poverty report released last month by the National Insurance Institute, 26.2% of Israelis - more than 1.6 million people - lived below the poverty line in 2005, a 1.7% jump from 24.5% in 2004.
"We are sad and ashamed of the government," finished Weintraub, "but we will continue to do what we can in order to ensure that people will have food to eat and know they are not alone."
Those interested in donating to Latet, an organization that oversees the distribution of food packages to more than 100 individual aid organizations around the country, can do so at Supersol branches, or visit www.latet.org.il.